A guerrilla doctor in Botan

Silav Newal went to the mountains as a teenager and learned to provide first aid to the injured. Now she is a guerrilla doctor in Botan.

For decades, the PKK guerilla has been engaged in a continuous struggle against the Turkish state. This fight is constantly evolving and has different dimensions.

Silav Newal is a member of the women's guerrilla force YJA-Star and has trained in the mountains in the health sector. Now she is a doctor in the mountains of Botan and treats her sick or injured companions.

Silav Newal was born in the Kurdish Resistance stronghold Amed. How she came to the guerrilla, she tells in the following words: "I was born in 1994 in Amed. In 2010 I joined the guerrilla. When I was little, my family lived in the village. At that time, guerrillas came to our home. They have aroused my interest in the guerrilla. Especially Heval Numan, who was then Area Commander of Amed, impressed me a lot."

The guerrilla as the only way out for women

For women, there is no opportunity within the system to live a free and meaningful life, the guerrilla activist explains: "Women are not accepted within the system, so the guerrilla is the only way out for women. The people of Amed are known for their patriotism. There may not be much awareness of the historical background, but the state’s denial and annihilation policy of the present triggers great anger. When you see reality, you find that life within the system is unbearable and meaningless. Although I was still a child when I saw Heval Numan for the first time, what he said about the principles of the Leader (referring to Öcalan) and the values of the party impressed me a lot."

The guerrilla is not just about weapons

Silav went to the mountains as a teenager: "The first thing that struck me about the guerrillas was their way of life and their cooperative relationships. Above all, I was impressed by the women who fought for freedom with the weapon in their hands in the mountains. I understood that people's relationships within the system were not sincere. The guerrilla stands for a whole new identity, for a new system and for freedom. From the outside, it looks like the guerrilla is just fighting, but it's much more. It's about awareness and knowing all the details of life. Knowledge is a necessity, conditions require it. The guerrilla must be prepared for everything and always evolve."

"We live in war"

How she came to develop in the health sector, Silav explains in the following words: "First, I had no interest in this work. I thought that I could learn everything in this movement, but not to be a medical doctor, which seemed too difficult for me. During the offensive in Beytüşşebap in 2015, I witnessed that friends getting injured and there was no one who could provide first aid. Because nobody could treat them, they lost their life. That really influenced me. At the time I realized that it is not enough for the guerrilla to know only how to use weapons. We live in war, there are always injuries, so medicine is greatly important and useful."

"I saw there was nothing to fear"

Silav began to acquire theoretical knowledge about the medical treatment of the injured. Then there were more injured and she had to prove herself in practice. "It makes me happy to see that the health of the injured improves when I have treated them. We are not only giving them physical treatment, we also give spiritual and psychological support and this is the greatest source of morale. We feel the pain of those affected and it is as if we were hurt ourselves. Then I saw that there was nothing to fear. With this responsibility, I am fighting to take revenge for past years.”