The pain of the Kobane massacre is still fresh

The pain from the massacre ISIS gangs committed in Kobane and the Berxbotan village 4 years ago is still fresh, like it was yesterday. Jiyan Berkel, one of the witnesses to the massacre, said there are no words to describe the massacre.

ISIS gangs carried out a violent massacre on June 25, 2015 that resulted in the death of 242 civilians. It has been four years since the massacre, but the pain is fresh like it was yesterday. The Democratic Society Education Committee (KPC-D) Administration Jiyan Berkel is one of the witnesses of the massacre.

Jiyan used to teach Kurdish in Aleppo before, and she arrived in the Cizire region 4 years ago to attend a KPC-D congress. Following the congress, Jiyan went to Kobane to travel to Aleppo with her friends from there. She stayed with her sister for a while. One morning she woke up to the sound of gunfire, and like everyone else in the city, thought the noises came from YPG fighters celebrating the then-occupied Sirin being liberated from ISIS.

She went out to join the celebrations, but she was unaware that ISIS members clad in YPG uniforms had dispersed in the city. She saw that the ISIS gangs placed snipers at strategic points throughout the city: “ISIS gangs were able to even enter homes as they were disguised as the YPG. They had tied a different colored piece of fabric on their arms to be able to recognize each other. Nobody was aware of what was going on. The gangs would knock on doors, and when they were let inside they would kill the residents. When the people noticed, they stopped answering the doors, but the gangs then started to enter from the rooftops.”

The city residents headed to where they thought was safe, the camp where people of Kobane stayed and the Til Siir village. Jiyan tried to reach the camp too. One of her relatives was killed by gangs on the way. She reached the camp and asked around for her friends, but couldn’t get any information. She went to the military hospital, where she saw the lifeless body of her teacher friend Zozan Bilal.

Jiyan realized it had been a violent ISIS massacre in the hospital, and like the rest of the city’s residents, acted responsibly: “All the residents were fearlessly resisting, and fulfilling their duties. They were taking the wounded to the hospitals.”

Jiyan then returned to Aleppo, and promised to avenge her friends. When Turkish state allied gang groups started to attack the Shexmeqsud neighborhood in Aleppo in February 2016, she immediately took up arms and joined the resistance alongside the fighters. The resistance in the neighborhood prevailed after 4 months. Jiyan thought her promise to avenge her friends was kept with the victory against the gangs.

Jiyan concluded her account with: “When I think back to that time, I don’t have the words to describe the extent of the violence and that atmosphere.”