Self-Defense

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One of the most important conditions to create democratic modernity against capitalist modernity is to create a democratic nation as an alternative to the nation-state. Likewise, one of the most important aspects of the democratic nation is self-defense. It is possible to say that in nature, every form of existence holds a mechanism for self-defense. Every living being has its own defense system specific to its species. There is no living being without self-defense.

Living beings can protect and perpetuate their existence by relying on their self-defense system. Whether in individual or collective capacity, human beings, too, require a self-defese system to secure their survival.

Self-defense should not be reduced to military stances or armed forces, but should rather be understood as society’s organization and organzation-based struggle in all spheres of life to protect itself.

For societies such as Kurdish society, who face genocidal annihilation in an economic, political, cultural, physical and social sense, to resort to forms of organization to protect their existence, the struggle for self-defense is a right. Genocide, as a consciously planned and comprehensive assault of organized forces that aim for the annhilation of a society is a crime against humanity.

Especially for women, as the section of society that faces the greatest forms of oppression, the need for self-defense carries vital importance.

A general perception – or rather a conscious, insidious manipulation of male-dominated power – has dominated much of the common historical account; namely, that women do not have a history of resistance and armed defense. Through the creation of an image of desperate women, who tolerate the catastrophes that they experience, as victims of fate, who cry blood, resisting women were characterized as marginal personalities. These portayals served the desire to suppress potential resistance and permanently subjugate women.

By creation their own self-defense mechanisms, women can undermine all sorts of deprivation of right, humiliation, harrassment, rape and annihilation policies that are perpetuated in the name of the patriarchal system. For this, it is necessay for women to learn about their own history and create organizations and institutions to open spaces for themselves in all spheres of life, including, when necessary, their own self-defense forces.

Legitimate self-defense formations such as YJA-Star, YPJ, YJŞ, YPS-JIN, HPJ that have been developed over the course of 30 years of active resistance by Kurdish women, based on the legacy of world women’s struggles, are concrete examples of women’s self-defense.

It is not a surprise that the capitalist system, and the nation-states that sustain it, have a long history of a policy of demonizing Kurdish women militants. Kurdish women fight against a state that does not shy away from expressing it does not believe in gender equliaty; a state with the second largest NATO army, which has a stongly masculine character and structure, and a president that encourges women to give birth to at least three children. They also fight against the Iranian regime, which tries to render women powerless and willness in the name of Islam, while using death penalty against struggling women. At the same time, they struggle against the oppressive and totalitarian Syrian Ba’ath regime and its patriarchal mentality, which aims to subjugate women by rendering them without identity and politics. Kurdish women also resisted against ISIS, the special forces of the male dominated mentality in the Middle East, which views it as “halal” to rape women, and which imposes slavery and all sorts of barbarism on women for the chance of meeting 72 virgins in heaven and used the annihilation of women as fundamental part of its propaganda campaign. That is why self-defense as a means of consciousness, willpower and action is a vital need to protect women’s existence and secure their freedom.

In addition to these issues, with self-defense consciousness, women fight against patriarchy in their own communities; these include the struggle against child marriage, forced marriage, murders committed in the name of “honor”, domestic violence and rape culture.

In this sense, the Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement’s understanding and organization of self-defense is based on two dimensions; one dimension is the political goal-oriented and self-defense resistance to protect one’s societal existence and secure one’s freedom against colonialism and capitalist hegemony.

The second dimension is connected to the social revolution in the ense that it aims to protect women’s sociality, existence and freedom against statist civilization and the male-dominated system by way of enabling their self-defense.

Women’s self-defense consciousness and organization contains multiple aspects that unites interwoven or parallel-running political as well as social revolutions.

Its fundamental character is the gender struggle. Self-defense, as the security politics of the gender struggle, takes content and shape as necessitated by the gender struggle. The form of the gender struggle in turn is the autonomous and separate women’s confederal system. The protection of women’s confederal system in turn enables the system to be women’s self-defense itself. Kadın konfederal sistemi esasında kadın öz savunma sisteminin kendisi olmaktadır.

In sum, women’s legitimate self-defense system and notion of struggle derives from the spirit of the democratic nation against nation-statism, nationalism, religionism and sexism. It is based on the principle of developing and organizing the self-defense of women from every nation, ethnic identity, faith and culture.

As Kurdish women, we change the world, beautify our era and organize free life through our philosophy based on the sociology of freedom, through our confederal system, and through our self-defence structures. To this end, let us render our freedom inviolable by creating our self-defending existence all the time, everywhere!

Below are the organized structures created for Kurdish women’s self-defense. The self-defense forces are not classical militarist forms of organization. Rather, they serve the protection and defense of communities of women against the patriarchal system.

YJA STAR (general organization)STAR (Ishtar) Free Women’s Units / Yekîneyên Jinên Azad ên Star
YPJ (western Kurdistan)Women’s Protection Units / Yekîneyên Parastina Jin
YJŞ (Ezidi women’s forces)Şengal Women’s Units / Yekîneyên Jinên Şengalê
YPS-Jin (northern Kurdistan)Civil Defense Units-Women / Yekîneyên Parastina Sîvîl – Jin
HPJ (eastern Kurdistan)Women’s Defense Forces / Hêzên Parastina Jin