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Real practice of Diyarbakir mothers’ sit-in against PKK’s discourse on women

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AZAZ, SYRIA: People of Tal Rifat who had to migrate to the Azaz district of Syria on the Turkish border stage a protest against PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, US and EU, and the YPG, which Turkiye regards as a terror group and Assad Regime, Azaz, Syria on November 25, 2022. (Bekir Kasım - Anadolu Agency)
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Dec 02, 2022 - 02:24 AM

ISTANBUL (AA) – The terrorist organization PKK has been assigning a central role to women in its discourse of propaganda since the early days of its terrorist activities. However, this role has become more evident and conceptually crystallized around a specific slogan, especially in the 2010s and beyond.

While the PKK slogans its discourse on women with the phrase “women, life, freedom,” the chosen concepts’ connection with the organization’s actual practice stays in the background, as in many slogans. The French philosopher Voltaire once said that Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman, nor an empire. The terrorist organization PKK’s motto “women, life, freedom” is repeated in the organization’s discourse, despite an organizational practice that contradicts these three concepts.

As a matter of fact, the PKK is an organization that forcibly recruited not only adult women but also girls, as mentioned in many international reports. In a striking report, Human Rights Watch reported that many children, including a 12-year-old girl, were turned into militants by the organization in Syria. According to the report, 10 out of 59 children recruited by the PYD, an offshoot of the PKK terror group are under 15.

Combining the terms of women, life, and freedom in a slogan for a terrorist organization that pushes women to death and captivity and forcibly separates children from their mothers constitutes an exaggerated example of propaganda that contradicts reality.

In the case of the PYD, the image of a “free woman fighting for life,” supported by campaigns, has become the commodity of a promotional effort in Western capitals that aims to legitimize the PKK/PYD. Even Hillary Clinton, who served as the US Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013 and was also a presidential candidate in the Presidential elections in 2016, announced that they would direct a television series about so-called female fighters of the PYD through her family’s production company.

The value that the terrorist organization PKK puts on women

So, how do the PKK and PYD promises to offer life and freedom for women get a response in the organization’s practice? The footage of the woman, who left the bomb on Istanbul’s Istiklal Street two weeks ago and was caught by the security forces after the attack, provides clear enough evidence that women were selected and instrumentalized in the terrorist acts of the organization. However, beyond that, the first fact highlighted when talking about the PKK and women is the suicide attacks in which women are used as suicide bombers. PKK militant Zeynep Kinaci, code-named Zilan, committed a suicide attack while disguised as pregnant, killing eight soldiers and injuring 29 soldiers on June 30, 1996.

Additionally, the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Co-Chair, Sabahat Tuncel, also attended the Kinaci’s commemorations and said: “Fellow Zilan is an important name in the freedom movement. Fellow Zilan not only detonated a bomb in his own body against the system but also made an important breakthrough in the women’s struggle against the male-dominated system,” she summarized the PKK and HDP’s view of women and suicide bombers. The trilogy of Women, life, and freedom became the absurd and contrasting slogan of a practice for PKK that killed people by detonating a bomb.

Diyarbakir mothers, the true defenders of women, life and freedom

While the terrorist organization PKK reduces Kurdish women to militants who carry out suicide attacks, that is, to militants who “get liberated as they die and kill,” a real practice that brings women and life together has been continuing in Diyarbakir for more than three years. Diyarbakir mothers’ sit-in, which has been going on since Sep. 3, 2019, has set an example of action in which the concepts of woman, life, and freedom are redefined by mothers who strive to save their children from captivity and death.

The number of families, which increased to 326 with the participation of Mevlut Aric’s family, who was kidnapped when he was 12, shows that this action, led by mothers, is still expanding in Diyarbakir. As a matter of fact, the sit-in was not limited to Diyarbakir but spread to many cities from Hakkari to Van, from Sirnak to Mus.

Public opinion at the international level is avoiding hearing the voices of Diyarbakir mothers

While the fight against terrorism was increased outside the borders and carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces with more effective military means and capabilities, such a civil initiative (sit-in) that could root out the human resources of the terrorist organization created an opportunity to fight terrorism as important as the military struggle. With the call “Don’t let our children die anymore!”, women’s support for life, and demanding the liberation of children from PKK captivity, Diyarbakır mothers announce their emphasis on freedom in a much stronger and more convincing tone than the PKK. However, public opinion at the international level avoids hearing and making this voice heard. While PKK/PYD militants are being heroized, the Diyarbakir mothers are ignored not only by foreign media outlets, but also by some Turkish media outlets. Moreover, the HDP and some political parties may use the Diyarbakir mothers’ sit-in protests as a daily political issue or specifically avoid making mothers’ voices heard. Some politicians, who join the condolences of PKK militants, accuse Türkiye of using chemical weapons, and who do not hesitate to criticize the SİHAs, the effective instrument of the fight against terrorism, can make efforts to keep the issue away from the national agenda when it comes to saving children from the hands of the PKK.

A long-term civil initiative that can coordinate in more than one city, such as the Diyarbakir mothers’ sit-in protest, in which hundreds of families actively participate, has never been seen before. While the PKK terrorist organization and HDP, and sometimes other political parties that have veiled relations with the HDP, talk about the so-called value given by the HDP to women, Diyarbakir mothers should see the value they deserve in large sections of the society with common sense.


* Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.

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