YJA Star guerrillas: Commander Bêrîtan is an example

31 years ago, guerrilla commander Bêrîtan Hêvî (Gülnaz Karataş) fell as a martyr in South Kurdistan. Young YJA Star fighters see Bêrîtan as a pioneer of women's liberation.

31 years ago, on 25 October 1992, guerrilla commander Bêrîtan Hêvî (Gülnaz Karataş) fell as a martyr in South Kurdistan.

The 'Southern War', in which Bêrîtan died, broke out after the proclamation of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in northern Iraq on 4 October 1992. When regional and global actors, above all the Turkish state, gave the green light to a federal system, the southern Kurdish parties PUK and KDP demanded a joint war against the PKK in return. As a result, the forces of South Kurdistan went to war alongside the Turkish army against the PKK guerrillas. The aim was to push the guerrillas primarily from the Heftanin, Zap and Xakurke regions.

Surrounded by KDP peshmerga fighters in Xakurke, Bêrîtan refused calls to surrender. She fought to the last bullet, destroyed her weapon and jumped to her death from a rock to avoid being captured. Her action has since been seen as an example of Kurdish women's determination against betrayal and surrender.

Shortly after Bêrîtan's death, the first steps towards establishing a women's army were taken. Today, the Free Women Troops (YJA Star) play a leading role in the guerrilla struggle in Kurdistan. ANF talked to three YJA Star guerrillas about what they have in common with Bêrîtan and her resistance.

Arjîn Roj: Comrade Bêrîtan refused to surrender

Guerrilla Arjîn Roj said that the 1992 war broke out due to attacks by the KDP and PUK and was based on treason. "This war lasted for forty days. There were leading female guerrillas. Comrade Bêrîtan had a special position at that time. She fought like a commander because she knew and understood the ideology of Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. Comrade Bêrîtan never met him, but she read a lot and internalized his ideology. She knew what the will of free women meant. Her personality did not allow for surrender. When she was asked to surrender, she jumped off a rock. She did not accept betrayal and surrender."

"The YJA Star was founded on the battle line of friends like Bêrîtan, Sema, Zîlan and Gulan. The women's associations were created with the intention that the courage and abilities of women should never remain in the shadow of men. Delal, Bêrîtan, Azê, Çavrê and Gulan became symbols of the resistance of free women. Women who join us from different places around the world also find their freedom on this line. They come to us based on the philosophy of Rêber Apo. The YJA Star has existed for thirty years. Our fight today is based on this legacy."

Barîn Nûjîn: Bêrîtan symbolizes the YJA Star

Barîn Nûjîn said: "Comrade Bêrîtan was our leading figure. Thanks to her, the women's associations were founded. She was a leader and commander in life, friendship and war, always focused on women's liberation. When she fell, the associations of free women were founded. For us, she is a symbolic figure that gives us strength in life. Your life gives us strength. Delal Amed, Ronahî, Zîlan and many others, whose names I can't even list, were also our leading figures. Thanks to them, a strong stance has emerged. We draw our strength and our conviction from the philosophy of Rêber Apo. As women's organizations, with this philosophy we have a strong stance both in life and in war. Comrade Bêrîtan had this attitude. We take her as an example."

Dunya Havîn: So that the line of treason does not win

Guerrilla Dunya Havîn said: "The 1992 war was waged on betrayal and against the will of women and the achievements of the Kurdish people. Comrade Bêrîtan dealt with the philosophy of Rêber Apo. She took a stand so that the line of treason did not win. When she was asked to surrender and given promises, she refused. She did not accept Kurds betraying Kurds. She didn't surrender. Because she didn't want her weapon to fall into the hands of the traitors, she kissed and destroyed it before jumping. With this willpower and conviction, we will also enforce the physical freedom of Rêber Apo."