A leading force of the Rojava Revolution in Syria, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) have inspired many people and groups worldwide since they were formed on 4 April 2013. HawarNews interviewed two sisters (who are actually twins) who are in the YPG who explained how they joined and what the YPJ means to them.
The twins came from Afrin and lost their family, home and land in the Afrin war. The oppressors, they informed HawarNews, had occupied their lands and attacked, destroyed, slaughtered people and plundered the villages and cities in the region. Through the YPJ, they were able to raise the flag of resistance and fight back, they noted. In this manner, they joined the ranks of the revolution, became organized and became a part of the Kurdish women’s resurrection.
The YPJ army, they noted to HawarNews, appeared at a time when they were aware that women were being brutally and mercilessly insulted, raped, ignored and marginalized. They joined the YPJ and took up arms and took up positions to defend their neighbourhoods, houses, villages, cities in the region and lands. Many women, in fighting to defend these goals and women’s dignity, have died in the war. The YPJ has also been in the forefront of the struggle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its brutal practices and mentality.
The Rojava revolution
From the very beginning of the Rojava revolution, women have been at the forefront of the revolution, adding morale, motivation, excitement and making a difference, the Cudi sisters noted. In this context, and in fighting under the YPJ alongside her twin sister, Sara Cudi expressed her feelings: “We are both sisters and twins, as well as armed fighters and comrades. Sometimes, I try to write and express these feelings and longings in my diaries. A different feeling is experienced: I experience intense emotions. I want to write and express them. But it is difficult to express these feelings. It’s a weird situation. It’s a feeling I can’t express. I see my sister as my comrade, someone who is fighting next to me. We are walking together on the path of revolution and this makes me happy: it gives me strength. It lifts my soul. I am filled with faith and hope in being a part of this unique revolution.
“There are many aspects that make the Rojava Revolution unique, different and colourful. It attracts attention from afar. We have seen many people in this revolution: brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, mothers and daughters fighting together in the ranks of the revolution. It is a people’s revolution. It is our unity with our people that magnifies our revolution. This makes us grow. If there is a revolution of people, there is victory. That’s why this revolution shines”.
The first victory of the revolution
For Sara Cudi, women’s proactive participation in the revolution is the first victory of the Rojava revolution: “There have been many revolutions. Women do not lead many revolutions. Not every revolution enables women to come to the fore and express themselves. For the first time, we are witnessing a revolution led by women. This gives both our people and us great morale and excitement. Women’s participation is an important part of the revolution. It would be very different if women’s stances, struggles, identity and energies were not present in this struggle”.
This is a women’s revolution
The sisters, in interview, stated that the leadership (Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan) has entrusted the revolution to women. Sara Cudi added: “As a woman, we take our place in this revolution and we have a heavy burden on our shoulders. We are aware of this. The responsibility of many people is on our shoulders. Our revolution is not a normal revolution. It is a great revolution. It gives excitement and morale. If we want to understand this revolution, we must first evaluate the women struggling in it. Because this is a women’s revolution.
“Perhaps no one believed that this revolution would make such progress. Because there has been no similar situation in history. For the first time, such a struggle is taking place, thanks to our leadership. Many did not believe that women could successfully carry out these tasks. But the power of women has been evident in this revolution. It is, again, women who will ensure success and lead the revolution. It is, again women who will lead us to victory. Woman provide the inspiration, motivation, and faith to power this revolution”.
In this revolution, Sara clarifies that: “We do not accept inequality. We also have the right to live freely. To enrich our society , we must first take our freedom. We need to reveal the truth of history, and the reality of women. Every woman should realize her strengths. We must reveal the truth of women who were buried in history, plundered, destroyed, ignored. We should not accept that women should live under these types of constant pressures. We must eliminate the pressures exerted over women. To live freely, women must be strong and brave”. Male domination in society is being eliminated through the participation of women in the revolution, she noted.
Personal and collective suffering
The sisters noted the personal and collective suffering that is taking place, even as the revolution seeks to address concerns of inequality and oppression: “There are thousands of unsolved murders in our country. We know our mother Berfo and her struggle. And we know of the attacks of the Turkish state in Afrin: we know our enemy. And that’s why we don’t think she’s alive, even if it’s painful to realise that. Our mother was a resilient woman. She did not leave the village until the last minute. We have not heard any news of her since it was occupied. Can a person forget her mother, her home, her village? Can a person erase their homeland from their memory? Even if there are crumbs, people will exist with these memories and live with them”.
The sisters noted that many people have to hide their pain and their sorrow with smiles as there is no time to mourn. They have to engage in the struggle against evil. They have to help establish a fair and free life for their country, their land and their people.