Xaya Nehmet (Kurdish name Rengin Renas); Representative of the Womens’ Protection Units (YPJ).
On my behalf, and that of the Women’s Protection Units, YPJ, I would like to commend this conference; which we consider a major step confirming the will, strength, and role of women in the achievement of social change and renaissance. I would also like to extend to you the greetings of each and every one of my comrades in the trenches, battling to defend every inch of Rojava, Syria; fighting on behalf, and in the name of, all women in the world.
War has been, and still is, the biggest threat to the world: to women, and humanity as a whole. The wars of the past centuries were created and engineered by a purely authoritarian and totalitarian mentality; for the benefit of narrow factional interests masquerading as a legitimate representation of society as a whole; whereas in fact it failed to reflect the social reality of the community. Consequently, the effect of this faction on society has been adverse, rather than beneficial. Wars, by their very nature, and being the products of a patriarchal authoritarian mentality brought only destruction and the denial of social achievements of the society in general, and those of women in particular. The goals and consequences of these wars were not limited to this point. The groups (categories) which were the most adversely affected were women and children. Thousands of women were made captives, considered as spoils of war. Yes, we are talking about captives and human spoils of war in an era in which the words of ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ are repeated incessantly in every mouth! To cite but a few examples: the events which took place on the third of August 2014 in Shengal; what happened to the Assyrian women in the villages of the city of Tel Tamir; the indiscriminate massacres in the village of Hamam Al Turkman where women, even young girls, were slaughtered. The hundreds of young girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria…the examples are innumerable, examples which illustrate the true character and nature of a mentality that is imposed on humanity through its infliction on women.
Therefore, one may say that war is the distilled concentration of violence, and the proof of that is what women are subjected to. It also proves that the wars led by the patriarchal authoritarian mentality are actually wars of appropriation and authoritarianism. A group which turns the murder of its own members, with the exception of forced self-defense, into a life style will establish all kinds of systems and institutions in order to develop its war machine and protect its interests regardless of the interests of society as a whole. War would become the foundational source informing the political, social, economic, and intellectual structure (institutions) thus excluding all other groups, factions and other sectors of society for several reasons. Chief among these reasons is that these groups by their very social nature differ from the societal model which the patriarchal mentality is trying to impose.
Secondly, as they represent an alternative, they elicit the fear of the totalitarian mentality. Actually, the wars run by the patriarchal authoritarianism are essentially opposed to the reality of women’s existence, even attempting to roll back and diminish this existence. As this war culture and harsh authority take hold, misogynist authority takes root and the belief that life and development are impossible without the war model. Women therefore had to be the effective force confronting this mentality. If we ask why women in particular have to fight? The answer would be because the woman is the community itself; through whom the culture of equality, justice and democracy has become entrenched. Her resistance is the resistance of society, its cry to maintain and protect its authentic being and character. It was in Mesopotamia, the land of the Mother-Goddess, that woman struggled to preserve the essence of Humanity and her values as a woman. On the edges of cities and in the countryside humanity cried and resisted on the slopes of the mountains thus woman was always the last shout of the resistance of the people against the dominance of the ancient and modern states. In the revolution of Rojava, women strove to live all the moments of the revolution. The Rojava revolution, which has at its center the women organization, was a revolution of moments, in which every moment was filled with several revolutions. Hence, the development of our achievements was based on many elements; chief among these was the existence before the revolution of the Union Star; which recently changed its organization to become the Star Congress. This rich foundation enabled women to strongly organize militarily, as in all fields diplomatic, political, social and administrative. It also enabled women to secure their rights since the beginning of, and throughout, the revolution; gaining women’s rights was not postponed or delayed till after the revolution.
As Women’s Protection Units, the establishment of our defense system was accelerated due to this level of awareness among women in our society. Our greatest inspiration and encouragement in living this experience was the successful experience of Kurdish women, throughout several decades, in the mountains of Kurdistan. We relied on the principles of the rose theory for the formation of our units: as much as a rose is beautiful, it nevertheless has thorns to defend itself. That is why we had to be aware of what we are defending, and what we aspire to achieve. Elsewhere in the world, in wars of liberation, women were confided to the rear lines of the front, as nurses, cooks and in other similar tasks. However, we have moved beyond that by the foundation of an all-women defense organization from the ranks to command.
In addition, our fighters have reached the highest levels as professionals in both combat and leadership. One of the most striking examples of the professionalism of our units is the battle in Kobani where combat operations were led by one of our comrades who is a member of the military council of our units. We can therefore arrive to the conclusion that our fighters are leaders and commanders, at the same time capable professionals in all arts of combat due to their awareness that the ability of every woman to defend herself is crucial. Therefore, as the representatives of our whole society, women firmly stood in defense of society against all attacks by the likes of Jabhat Al Nusra, Ahrar Al Sham and others; and most recently, Daesh. Our war with Daesh is not a conventional one because above all it is an ideological war between a philosophy of shared existence within standards where social justice is achieved; a society where women are the axis. Opposing it is a philosophy that recognizes nothing but a sinister unilateral perception, and has even surpassed and gone beyond the (definition/appellation/level) of brutality because it is far-removed from all human values.
Since one of our principles is the defense of every woman subjected to injustice and slavery, regardless of nationality or religion; and due to the practical implementation of this principle particularly in our war against Daesh, we have come to represent the hopes of many women who were unable to speak out, and were not even considered as human, and this increased the numbers of young women of all backgrounds who join our forces.
Now there are Arab women who have joined our ranks, even Europeans as well as Kurdish women; and also among our martyrs there are Europeans, as well as Kurds and Arabs. This demonstrates that no matter to which degree ruling state regimes succeeded in fragmenting communities, forcing them to live in crises, where murder and destruction reign instead of democracy; no matter how much they succeeded in subverting the relationship between man and Nature leading to economic and environmental crises, or enforcing a one-sided monopoly on society designed to disconnect women from their role as the crux of society; we, as women’s protection units, have become a proponent and protector of all women in Rojava, and the hope for many women in the world, as we consolidate a new model of freedom based on the paradigm of a democratic, environmentally responsible society and the emancipation of women.
We have taken a lot of steps on the path of liberation and defense of women, and women have achieved a lot within the autonomous system of Rojava, but we realize that we are still at the beginning of the road and face a task larger than ever before to maintain these achievements. Our experience in itself, and by globally communicating it to the world, we are consolidating a system for defending these achievements by making it the property of all women in the world. Through this conference I reiterate that we hope that the dialogue and consultation among women globally will increase to a very high extent; that the solution to the many world crises and dilemmas will come about through women, through their perception and strength, and through the unification of the women all over the world within a unified organizational level that can be a frame of reference for all women globally. Achieving this will be our struggle in the coming periods (future).
Finally, at the end of my speech, I would to again extend the thousands of greetings from fellow comrades in the battlefield to all members of the conference. They dedicate to you every triumph they gained towards the emancipation of women and ridding the world from the clutches of Daesh.
Workshop 3 Wars of aggression english