An Arab woman in the Kurdish mountains
30 June 2012The PKK is a meeting of cultures, says Arab guerrilla Yekbun
Arab Yekbun grew up among Kurds and Syrians in Dirbesiye/Syria and is a guerrilla in the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, fighting against repressive countries in the Middle East for a "democratic confederation" in the region.
"I am of Arab origin," says Yekbun who was born in the village of Tileylou of Dirbesiye in Kurdistan Syria and spoke Kurdish as her mother language. Her village had some 50 houses, inhabited by Arabs and Kurds.
Before arriving in Kurdistan, her tribe lived in an area near a desert. "The Syrian state placed Arabs in the regions inhabited by the Kurds, so much so that the Kurds were deprived of their land. The state looked like an Arab village or area in general but my parents preferred to stay with the Kurds, despite the pressures they faced "she says.
The Syrian regime implemented its policy in 1962, the "Arab Belt" which expelled the whole Kurdish population in the region of Jazeera (Cizre in Kurdish) along the Turkish border and replaced them with Arabs. More than 300,000 Syrian Kurds were deprived of their identity cards and forced to live as foreigners in their homeland.
Not yielding to pressure of the regime and the seizure of their land, Yekbun parents refused to abandon the Kurds. In 1990s, her parents started aiding the PKK which brought along a political dimension to their lives. "I was greatly influenced by the PKK but my parents didn’t want me to join the ranks of the party because I was a woman," she says.
Despite the insistence of his parents, Yekbun began to participate in activities of the PKK as a militia. In 2001, she joined the PKK ranks and became a fighter of the organization. "When I saw the mountains of Kurdistan, I told myself that no force could ever defeat the guerrillas," she adds.
Over 40% of PKK fighters are women. They are represented as equal in all branches of the organization which is headed by a co-presidency. Moreover, Kurdish women have their own armed organization, the Union of Free Women (YJA-STAR), which has between 1,500 and 2,000 fighters.
Yekbun says: "It was only when I joined the PKK ranks that I understood the role of the struggle and learned about the history of my people and that of women. My commitment and confidence in the PKK as an Arab woman were strengthened when I joined its ranks as an Arab woman. "
For Yekbun, the PKK is a meeting of cultures, as she says that this armed organization bears many fighters from different countries in its ranks. "I met with several guerrillas who were not of Kurdish origin. Every nation knows its history but the PKK knows its’ better" she adds.
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