Calls for solidarity, as Turkish drones assassinate members of the Kurdish women’s movement

Yusra Darwish, assassinated by a Turkish drone strike
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The Turkish military assassinated Yusra Darwish, the co-chair of Qamişlo canton council in Northeast Syria, on 20th June. Missiles fired from a Turkish drone killed Yusra, who was also a prominent member of the Kurdish women’s movement.

A revolution has been underway in Rojava, Northeast Syria since 2012, based on the ideas of women’s freedom, grassroots democracy, and an ecological society. The Turkish state is opposed to this revolution, and has been trying to destroy it since it began.

The drone strike also killed Leyman Shiweish, Yusra’s deputy co-chair, and the driver of the car, Farat Touma. Thousands of people attended their funeral in Qamişlo.

Rojava’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) said that Leyman was one of the first women to join the Kurdistan revolution, and that she spent 38 years fighting as a guerilla in the Kurdish mountains. They concluded:

The enemy should know that the struggle started by comrade Rihan [Leyman] will continue at any cost.

‘Our answer will be the women’s revolution’

This is by no means the first time the Turkish state has used assassination attacks against the Kurdish women’s movement. Zehra Berkel, Hebûn Mele Xelîl, and Emina Weysi were members of the Kongra Star women’s federation. The Turkish military murdered them in another drone attack in 2020. Last year Nagîhan Akarsel, co-editor of Jineoloji magazine, was assassinated in an attack on her house in Suleimaniye in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Jineoloji is the decolonial social science of women created by the Kurdish Freedom Movement. The Jineoloji publication carries out dissemination of knowledge of, by, and for women within Jineoloji’s radical framework. Kongra Star wrote at the time:

the Turkish state has persistently tried to weaken the struggle. But the persistence, will and strength of the freedom-loving women will not be weakened or broken. Our answer will be the victory of the women’s revolution all over the world.

The Turkish state’s attacks on the revolutionary women of the Kurdish Freedom Movement are systematic and long-established. To read Kongra Star’s dossier on the assassinations of their comrades click here.

UK group condemns the killings

Kurdistan Solidarity Network (KSN) is a UK group which supports the revolutionary politics of the Kurdish Freedom Movement and the Rojava revolution. KSN Jin, the autonomous women’s structure of the KSN, made the following statement:

Kurdistan Solidarity Network – Jin condemn these and all other attacks the Turkish state is carrying out in its attempt to destroy, piece by piece, the work of building a democratic, ecological and peaceful future for North and East Syria. We stand with our sisters in Kurdistan and beyond and raise our voices in solidarity, defiance and shared pain. 

Yusra Darwish joined the Rojava Revolution in 2012 and worked for many years as a teacher, school principal and active member in the field of education. She was elected co-chair of the Amudê Education Committee  before becoming co-chair of the Qamishlo-Canton Council in November 2022.

KSN Jin went on to speak about Leyman Shiweish:

Leyman Shiwish

Leyman Shiweish, who is also known as Reiyhan Amude, has been working for peace, democracy and women’s liberation for years and has played an important role in the women’s revolution in Rojava since it began.

The statement continued:

Both women worked tirelessly for social change and the organization of social, community and political activities in the canton since the beginning of the revolution.

The killings of Yusra, Leyman and Farat are part of a Turkish military campaign of drone strikes and shelling. Turkish drones have killed at least 21 people over the past weeks.

The European Kurdish Democratic Societies Congress (KCDK-E) have called for international solidarity against Turkish aggression. They said that the Turkish state wants to occupy and ethnically cleanse more of Northeast Syria:

It is necessary to see that the invading Turkish army has a very serious and clear goal of occupying and dekurdifying the region. It also replaces the Kurdish population by people from other places in the region.

KCDK-E called for people around the world to stand up against the Turkish attacks. People in Suleimaniye, Brussels, and Bern have already held demonstrations against the attacks. You can follow Kurdistan Solidarity Network to find out about solidarity events in the UK.

Featured image via Kongra Star

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