KJK pays tribute to commander Beritan

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KJK Coordination to pay tribute to Gülnaz Karataş (Beritan) on the 28th anniversary of her martyrdom.

In a written statement the KJK Coordination to pay tribute to Gülnaz Karataş (Beritan) said: “Beritan took part in the resistance in Xakurkê against the collaborator Kurds. On 25 October 1992, after fighting until her last bullet, Beritan did not surrender to the KDP peshmergas and instead she threw herself off a cliff to avoid ending in their hands.”

The statement said: “Our struggle for freedom has constantly grown with thousands of women martyrs, at great costs and with great epic resistance.

Just looking at the martyrs given in October by our women’s liberation movement will see how self-sacrificing our movement is, and how our movement actually created a national, Middle Eastern and World women’s unity in the person of our martyrs.”

On 25 October 1992, a Kurdish female guerrilla, Gülnaz Karataş (nom de guerre: Beritan), was surrounded by a group of KDP peshmergas on a hilltop in Xakurke, in South Kurdistan.

A Turkish operation against the PKK on South Kurdistan soil had just begun and Beritan was in Xakurke. She fought bravely against the Turkish army and its KDP collaborators.

The peshmergas had attacked a PKK position in Xakurke. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Kurdish guerrillas fought and resisted.

Gülnaz Karataş was one of the few female fighters at that time. She joined the PKK in May 1991 and had limited experience of guerrilla warfare. Her group was defending a hilltop position. She ordered her team to withdraw to a safer location. She fought until her last bullet.

When the peshmergas realized that Beritan had no more ammunition left they started to move closer. The commander of the peshmergas called on her to surrender. She did not respond.

The peshmerga commander got closer and closer, talking constantly to her, trying to convince her to surrender. When he saw Beritan, she was standing on the edge of a rock. Instead of surrounding to the peshmerga she made a quick move and threw herself off a cliff. She chose to die in dignity rather than surrender to the enemy.

Beritan and her action soon became a legend in Xakurke and beyond. Her story was told by the peshmergas who tried to capture her. Most of them laid down their arms and stopped fighting against the PKK after what Beritan did.

Because of her exceptional courage and her passionate character, Beritan soon became an icon for Kurds. Songs were written and innumerable newborns were named after her. Her life was portrayed in the movie “Beritan” by Kurdish director (and guerrilla) Halil Dag in 2006.

Her grave was discovered in 2005. Her remains were moved to guerrilla-controlled area and reburied in a huge ceremony.

Who was Beritan

Gülnaz Karataş, Beritan, was born in Solhan a distict of Bingöl province in 1971. Her family is originally from Dersim. She attended school in Elazığ and wasn’t aware of her Kurdish identity until she was 18 years old.

She was arrested for her activism in 1990 but released soon after. She joined the PKK on 9 May 1991 in Cudi mountains, Şırnak. Because of her bravery she was sent to the area of Şemzînan (Şemdinli) in 1992 as commander of a small force.

When the Turkish operation against Southern Kurdistan started Beritan was in Xakurke.

As a guerrilla fighter, who had been in the mountain for just one year, Beritan established military and ideological standards, especially for the women’s movement, and became a great symbol of the PKK’s resistance.

With her action she showed every woman that an alternative choice is always possible against oppression, patriarchy, betrayal and surrender.