Mark Campbell interviews Frederike Geerdink about her new book This Fire Never Dies, a personal account of her one year spent with Kurdish gerilla fighters in Kurdistan.
Frederike Geerdink who was eventually deported from Turkey for her honest reporting of the Kurdish issue had travelled to Qandil with a reporting team to interview a top Kurdish commander, Cemil Bayik.
Standing, waiting for Cemil Bayik to arrive for the interview, she looked out through the trees, over the mountains and in that one split second came up with the idea to live in mountains for one year and report about the lives of the Kurdish fighters. One month later her request was granted and she travelled to Qandil Mountains to begin her project.
The result was This Fire Never Dies, an extraordinary account of her one year spent living with Kurdish fighters, not only of the PKK in Qandil Mountains but of the Kurdish fighters in NE Syria, Sengal and Kirkuk too whom she cleverly collectively calls, ‘Öcalan’s Fighters’.
The book describes beautifully the natural settings amongst the rivers, caves and valleys of the mountains, the daily disciplined lives of the PKK members as they go about their daily lives and gives a voice to the Kurdish fighters to speak for themselves of their lives before joining, the daily repression they were subjected to, the brutality, racism, torture, violence by the Turkish state and ISIS and how by becoming a Kurdish freedom fighter it gave them personal and collective freedom.
Real freedom, to realise who they really were, their history, origins, language, culture. And more importantly educated them in the revolutionary education that includes the history of women’s oppression and the roots of the oppression of the Kurds. Indeed, Geerdink describes this freedom, this life in the PKK as a way of life, not an organisation and also therapy to come to terms with what they had suffered, and to be able to develop and grow.
Geerdinks writes, ’It slowly dawned on me. This, exactly this, is how Rojda comes to terms with her past. By no longer suppressing her own identity but claiming it, learning its history, and expressing it by learning the Kurdish language. By not resigning herself to watching groups like ISIS, Al Nusra and the Syrian and Turkish armies trampling her people underfoot, but by defending herself, her family, her village and her people. Not just by taking up arms, but by educating herself. Investing in the future is her way of fighting against the denial and destruction. I don’t think anything could make her stronger than this. In the PKK, you don’t need therapy. Being in the PKK is the therapy’
Through the voices of ‘Öcalan’s Fighters’ we learn of the Kurdish people’s legtitimate struggle against decades of racism and oppression and discover a utopian vision that our world needs more than ever. One free of racism, sexism and discrimination. One that protects the environment and offers a new way of living. A new life. A world reborn. Thank you Frederike, for showing us this vision.