RT filmed a unique documentary “Her War: Women Vs. ISIS” about young Kurdish women in Syria, who are defending their country against the Islamic State (IS formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) militants. For three weeks the RT Documentary team lived in a training camp run by the YPJ, on the border with Iraq, three kilometers from the frontline.
Gulan, 18, from the predominantly Kurdish town of Serekaniye, which borders territories controlled by IS, said that she took up arms to protect her family.
The Kurds are an ethnic group, culturally and linguistically related to Iran, which does not have its own state. The Kurdistan region spans adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
“I’ll go fight the enemy to keep my father safe at home and make him proud,” she said as she was leaving to train to become a fighter.
IS militants on the rampage in Syria and Iraq, have kidnapped hundreds of women and young girls. They have committed numerous atrocities, which include abuse.
The Kurds have been fighting various IS, since July 2013.
“When IS militants hear female voices they get very scared.”
YPJ women want to create a “new society”.
These women joining self-defense forces in Syrian Kurdistan is a revolution within a revolution.
YPJ commander Tolheldan said that the Kurdish fighters are trying to build a “life based on equality” and are not “just thinking about Kurds, but all mankind.”
“This region is quite poor, but the Kurds are poorest of all,” she said. “Poor children know what hardship is. That’s their motivation to fight for a free future.”
These women form Communist led insurgent brigades inside Syria anf fighting Isis,
Women’s Protection Units or Women’s Defense Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Jin) (YPJ) is a military organisation that was set up in 2012 as the female brigade of the People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, YPG) militia. The YPJ and YPG are the armed wing of a Kurdish coalition that has taken de facto control over much of Syria’s predominantly Kurdish north, Rojava.
The organisation grew out of the Kurdish resistance movement, and as of late 2014 it had over 7,000 (or 10,000, according to TeleSUR) volunteer fighters between the ages of 18 and 40. They receive no funding from the international community and rely on the local communities for supplies and food.
The YPJ joined its brother organisation, the YPG, in fighting against any groups that showed intentions of bringing the Syrian Civil War to Kurdish-inhabited areas. It has come under increased attacks from ISIS militants and was involved in the Siege of Kobanî.
Various Kurdish media agency indicate that “YPJ troops have become vital in the battle against I.S.” in Kobanî. YPJ achievements in Rojava have attracted considerable international attention as a rare example of strong female achievement in a region in which women are heavily repressed.
The Democratic Union Party is a Rojava political party established in 2003 by Kurdish activists in northern Syria. Pressured to accept affiliation through the need for munitions, with and by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, it is a founder member of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change,
The party is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Syrian government forces have withdrawn from three Kurdish-inhabited areas and handed military control to Kurdish militias in 2012.
In mid-2012 the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan signed an agreement with the Kurdish National Council, forming a joint Kurdish Supreme Council (Kurdish Supreme Committee) and agreeing to cooperate on security for Kurdish areas, forming People’s Protection Units (YPG).This followed an operational decision made by the Assad regime in mid-July 2012 to withdraw the majority of its forces from Syria’s Kurdish areas.
In mid-2012 the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan signed an agreement with the Kurdish National Council, forming a joint Kurdish Supreme Council (Kurdish Supreme Committee) and agreeing to cooperate on security for Kurdish areas, forming People’s Protection Units (YPG).This followed an “operational decision made by the Assad regime in mid-July 2012 to withdraw the majority of its forces from Syria’s Kurdish areas.
Kurdistan Workers’ Party was Founded in 1978
The Women’s Units are (YJA-STAR).
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK) is a left-wing Kurdish nationalist militant organization based in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. It is considered the most powerful Kurdish nationalist organization.
Since 1984 the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for cultural and political rights and self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey, who comprise between 10% and 25% of the population and have been subjected to repression for decades.
The group was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan.
The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent, Marxist–Leninist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan.
The name PKK is usually used interchangeably for the name of its armed wing, the People’s Defence Force (HPG), which was formerly called the Kurdistan National Liberty Army (ARGK).
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation internationally by several states and organizations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union. However countries such as India, China, Russia, Switzerland and Egypt have not designated the PKK as a terrorist organization. Also,the UN has not listed the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
A meeting on 25 November 1978, in a tea house near Diyarbakır is considered the founding meeting. On 27 November 1978, the group adopted the name Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Espousing a radical left, Marxist ideology, the group took part in violent conflicts with right-wing entities as a part of the political chaos in Turkey at the time.
The 1980 Turkish coup d’état pushed the organization to another stage, with members (such as Sakine Cansız, one of the co-foundersbeing executed, doing jail time, being subject to capital punishment, or fleeing to Syria.
On 2 April 2004, the Council of the European Union added the PKK to its list of terrorist organisations. Later that year, the US Treasury moved to freeze assets of branches of the organisation.
The organisation initially presented itself as part of the worldwide communist revolution.
The first training camp was established in 1982 in Bekaa Valley (which was then under Syrian control), with the support of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Syria.This main camp moved to north Iraq in 1998.
The organisation created many small camps. During this period the organization set up a fully functioning enclave with training camps, storage facilities, and reconnaissance and communications centers.
In 2007, the organiSation was believed to have camps strung out through the mountains that straddle the border between Turkey and Iraq, including in Sinaht, Haftanin, Kanimasi and Zap.
The organiSation developed two types of camps. The border camps were used as forward bases from which militants infiltrate into Turkey. The units deployed there are highly mobile and the camps have only minimal infrastructure.The other camps, in the Qandil Mountains, have more developed infrastructure—including a field hospital, electricity generators and a large proportion of the PKK’s lethal and non-lethal supplies.
There are also training camps in other countries: the organisation’s training camp near Eindhoven in the Netherlands, was well-hidden in the woods, but was dismantled. The following raids resulted in arrests and seizure of materials in The Hague, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Capelle aan den IJssel.There was another training camp in Belgium, evidence that the organization uses training camps in Europe for political and ideological training.
Several parliamentarians and other elected representatives have been jailed for speaking in Kurdish, carrying Kurdish colors or otherwise “promoting separatism”, most famous among them being Leyla Zana.
On 14 October 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted the senior leadership of the PKK.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic security agency, in its 2011 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution, stating that despite the US designation, there was “no evidence that the organisational structures of the PKK are directly involved in drug trafficking”.
After 1984, PKK began to use Maoist theory of people’s war. There are three phases in this theory. The militant base during the initial years was coming from different sources, so the first two phases were diffused to each other.
In the first phase (1978–1984), the PKK tried to gain the support of the Kurdish population. It attacked the machinery of government and distributed propaganda in the region. PKK tactics were based on ambush, sabotage, riots, protests, and demonstrations against the Turkish government.
In the whole Turkey, this period was characterized by violent clashes which culminated in the 1980 military coup.
During this time, the organiSation argued that its violent actions were explained by the need to defend Kurds in the context of what it considered as the massive cultural suppression of Kurdish identity (including the 1983 Turkish Language Act Ban) and cultural rights carried out by other governments of the region.
Armed rebellion 1984–1999
In the second phase (1984–1999), which followed the return of civilian rule in 1983, escalating attacks were made on the government’s military and vital institutions all over the country.
All in all, this low-intensity conflict has lasted more than 30 years.
The third phase (1999–2012), after the capture of Öcalan, according to Maoist theory of people’s war claims that conventional fighting should be established to seize cities, overthrow the government and take control of the country.
In April 2002 at its 8th Party Congress, the PKK changed its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) and proclaimed a commitment to nonviolent activities in support of Kurdish rights.
Second insurgency 2004-2012
Kongra-Gel called off the cease-fire at the start of June 2004, saying Turkish security forces had refused to respect the truce. Turkish security forces were increasingly involved in clashes with Kurdish separatist fighters. Ankara claimed that about 2,000 Kurdish fighters had crossed into Turkey from hideouts in mountainous northern Iraq in early June 2004.
In 2005, the original name of the organization PKK was restored.
On 21 October 2011 Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced Iran would co-operate with Turkey in some military operations against the PKK.
2012 was the most violent year in the armed conflict between the Turkish State and PKK since 1999. At least 541 individuals lost their lives as a result of the clashes including 316 militants. In contrast, 152 individuals lost their lives in 2009 when the Turkish government initiated negotiations with the PKK leadership.The failure of this negotiations contributed to violence that were particularly intensified in 2012. The PKK encouraged by the rising power of the Syrian Kurds increased its attacks in the same year.
During the Syrian civil war, the Kurds in Syria have established control over their own region with the help of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party as well as with support from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil, under President Massoud Barzani.
2013-15 Peace process
In late 2012, the Turkish government began secret talks with Öcalan for a ceasefire.
On 29 July 2013, the PKK issued an ultimatum in saying that the peace deal would fail if reforms were not begun to be implemented within a month.In October, Cemil Bayik warned that unless Turkey resumed the peace process, the PKK would resume operations against it. He also accused Turkey of waging a proxy war against Kurds during the Syrian civil war by supporting other rebels who were fighting them.
2014 action against Islamic State and renewed tensions in Turkey,
The PKK engaged the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in Syria in mid-July 2014 as part of the Syrian Civil War. In August the PKK engaged IS in Northern Iraq and pressured the Government of Turkey to take a stand against IS.PKK forces helped “tens of thousands of Yazidis escape an encircled Mount Sinjar.”
In September 2014, during the Siege of Kobane, the PKK engaged with Islamic State forces in Syria, which resulted in conflicts with Turks on the border and an end to a cease-fire that had been in place over a year.PKK snipers were active fighting ISIL on the front line in Sinjar in 2015.
A number of Turkish Kurds rallied in large-scale street protests, demanding that the government in Ankara take more forceful action to combat IS and to enable Kurdish militants already engaged against IS to more freely move and resupply. These protests included a PKK call for its supporters to turn out.
Clashes between police and protesters killed at least 31 people. The Turkish government continued to restrict PKK-associated fighters’ movement across its borders, arresting 260 People’s Protection Units fighters who were moving back into Turkey. On 14 October, Turkish Air Force fighter-bombers attacked PKK positions in the vicinity of Daglica, Hakkari Province.
In July 2015, Turkey became involved in the war against ISIL. While they were doing so, they decided to bomb PKK targets in Iraq.
The bombings came a few days after PKK was suspected to have assassinated two Turkish police officers in Ceylanpınar, Şanlıurfa, accused by the PKK of having links with ISIS after the 2015 Suruç bombing.The PKK has blamed Turkey for breaking the truce by bombing the PKK in 2014. The leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan has condemned the Turkish air strikes in its autonomous region in the north of Iraq.
The areas in which the group operates are generally mountainous rural areas and dense urban areas. The mountainous terrain offers an advantage to members of the PKK by allowing them to hide in a network of caves and making military air operations, especially helicopter use, hazardous for the Turkish Armed Forces.
The PKK’s ideology claims to support equality of gender. At its establishment, it included a small number of female fighters. Over time, however, this number has increased significantly and by the early 1990s, 30 percent of its 17,000 armed fighting forces were women.In much of rural Turkey, male-dominated tribal structures, and conservative Muslim norms are commonplace. The organiSation increased its number of members through the recruitment of women from different social structures and environments, such as women from families that migrated to several European countries after 1960 as guest workers.It was reported by a Turkish university that 88% of the subjects claimed that equality was a key objective.In 2007, approximately 1,100 of 4,500–5,000 total members were women.
From early 1979 to 1999 Syria had provided valuable safe havens to PKK in the region of Beqaa Valley.
The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization since 2001. In 2008 the United Kingdom detained members of the PKK and seized the assets of the PKK’s representative in Britain, Selman Bozkur, alias “Dr. Hüseyin”. His assets remain frozen.
The military alliance NATO has declared the PKK to be a terrorist group;Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and fields the group’s second-largest armed contingent. Closely tied to NATO,the European Union—which Turkey aspires to join—officially lists the PKK as having “been involved in terrorist acts” and proscribes it as part of its Common Foreign and Security Policy. First designated in 2002, the PKK was ordered to be removed from the EU terror list on 3 April 2008 by the European Court of First Instance on the grounds that the EU failed to give a proper justification for listing it in the first place.However, EU officials dismissed the ruling, stating that the PKK would remain on the list regardless of the legal decision. Most European Union member states have not individually listed the PKK as a terrorist group.
The United Nations only blacklists al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated groups and individuals, pursuant to UNSCR 1267. As such, the PKK has never been designated as a terrorist organisation by the UN, though three out of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council treat it as such on an individual basis. The PKK is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US State Department and as a Proscribed Group by the UK Home Office.
Additionally, France prosecutes Kurdish-French activists and bans organizations connected to the PKK on terrorism-related charges, having listed the group as a terrorist organization since 1993. However, French courts often refuse to extradite captured individuals accused of PKK connections to Turkey due to technicalities in French law, frustrating Turkish authorities. On the other hand, Russia has long ignored Turkish pressure to ban the PKK, and the group is also not included in the official terror blacklist of China (PRC).
Notably, the government of Switzerland has explicitly rejected Turkish demands to blacklist the PKK.