YJA STAR pays tribute to guerrilla Bêrîtan

YJA STAR Central Headquarters Command called all "young people and women to fight in the line shown by Bêrîtan, to resist in the line shown by Bêrîtan across Kurdistan and to bring the freedom serhildan to victory."

YJA STAR Central Headquarters Command issued a statement to pay tribute to Kurdish guerrilla, Gülnaz Karataş, Bêrîtan, who, on 25 October 1992, surrounded by a group of KDP peshmergas on a hilltop in Xakurke, South Kurdistan, fought to her last bullet and then threw herself off a cliff instead of surrender. 

The YJA STAR statement said: "The month of October, symbolized by the resistance of guerrilla Bêrîtan, goes down in Kurdish history as the beginning of our women's army. In 1992, while international, submissive and collaborative forces attacked our movement to destroy it, the brave Kurdish guerrilla Bêrîtan declared to the whole world that the Kurdish people and women would never surrender and that this resistance would lead to victory.

With this stance and freedom-lover attitude, Bêrîtan has become a symbol that passes on the tradition that Kurdish women inherited from Besês and Zarif. She chose a life of dignity against the calls of the collaborative nationalist KDP forces who tried to make her surrender. She jumped off the cliffs without hesitation, calling for resistance, not surrender. Considering this call as the honourable identity of Kurdish women, Leader Abdullah Öcalan declared the birth of the "women's army" in memory of Bêrîtan in order to organize the Kurdish women's call for freedom."

The statement added: “Bêrîtan has embodied the female militant model of the Army of Women in her personality, transformed the measures and principles of the Free Women's Revolution into a permanent life perspective, and brought the free life line and philosophy to a clear and concrete perspective in the person of female militants.”

The statement ends with the following remarks: "While saluting Leader Öcalan, the architect, philosopher, ideologist leader of our women's struggle for freedom we invite all young people and women to fight along the line drawn by Bêrîtan, to resist in the line drawn by Bêrîtan across Kurdistan and to bring the freedom serhildan to victory."

25 October 1992

On 25 October 1992, a Kurdish female guerrilla, Gülnaz Karataş, Bêrîtan, was encircled by a group of KDP peshmergas on a hilltop in Xakurke, Southern Kurdistan.

The peshmergas were collaborating with the Turkish army as a part of a large-scale operation against the PKK. With the support of Turkish army, peshmergas attacked a PKK position in Xakurke. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Kurdish guerrillas continued to resist.

Gülnaz Karataş was one of the few female fighters at that time. She joined the PKK in May 1991 and had limited experience of guerrilla warfare. Her group was defending a hilltop position. She ordered her team to withdraw to a safer location. She fought until her last bullet.

When the peshmergas realized that Bêrîtan had no more ammunition left they started to move closer. The commander of the peshmergas called on her to surrender. She did not respond.

The peshmerga commander got closer and closer, talking to her constantly to convince her to surrender. When he saw Bêrîtan, she was standing on the edge of a rock. Instead of surrounding to the peshmerga she made a quick move and threw herself off a cliff. She chose to die in dignity rather than surrendering.

After her refusal to surrender, Bêrîtan became a legend in Xakurke. Her story was told by the peshmergas who tried to capture her. Most of them laid down their arms and stopped fighting against the PKK after what Beritan did.

Because of her exceptional courage and her passionate character, Beritan became a historical figure for the Kurds. Song were written and innumerable newborns were named after her. Her life was portrayed in the movie “Bêrîtan” by Kurdish director Halil Dag in 2006.

Her grave was discovered in 2005. Her body was transferred to guerrilla controlled area and reburied with a huge ceremony.

Who is guerrilla Bêrîtan

Gülnaz Karataş, Bêrîtan, was born in Solhan a distict of Bingöl province in 1971. Her family is originally from Dersim. She attended school in Elazığ and wasn’t aware of her Kurdish identity until she was 18 years old.

She was arrested for her activism in 1990 but released soon after. She joined the PKK on May 9, 1991 in Cudi mountains, Şırnak. Because of her bravery she was sent to the area of Şemzînan (Şemdinli) in 1992 as commander of a small force.

When the Turkish operation against Southern Kurdistan started BeritanBêrîtan was in Xakurke. She fought a fierce battle against the Turkish army and collaborators. On 25 October 1992 she threw herself off a cliff instead of surrendering.

As a one-year-old guerrilla fighter, Bêrîtan established military and ideological standards, especially for the women's movement, and set a great symbol for the PKK’s resistance.

With her action, she showed every woman that an alternative choice is possible against oppression, patriarchy, betrayal and surrender.