International Fighters in YPJ

Meet our cute and brave international fighters here…

~*~ Dilan ~*~

My name is Dilan Cudi. I am from Canada and came to Rojava two years ago. Back home I had been seeing a video about the attack on Kobane in 2014. I could see the struggle of the people there and that the women were fighting, too. It influenced me, because I was convinced, that this war was not just a threat to the people in Kobane, but for the people all around the world. This and also the heroism done by the people there made me come here and join the YPJ fighting. I was really impressed about the case, when in the battle one female fighter stopped the tanks by blowing herself up. Her name was Arin Mirkan and when she did this, with ending her own life she could save the whole city and a lot of people’s life. That was actually inspiring me.
Before I came, I actually didn’t think about the dangers of war at all. I found it more dangerous to live a normal, unfulfilled life, getting a job, having a family and always be living in the patriarchal system. I felt the strong influence of patriarchy on every person’s life and wanted to fight against that. To find a way to fight for something like this, something bigger than myself was and is more important than any fear that I could feel. There is so much in our western societies that we fear to do. Instead of all this fear we could also just get out of our houses and build something up.
By coming here I actually wanted to show to other people, that this is possible. I wanted to be brave, so I could be an example for other women. We are able to fight for one’s right and this is what I want to do. Of course there are so many ways of doing this, it is not necessary to pick up a gun for everyone. Whatever structure it is, be it in the civil society, doing diplomatic activities or fighting on the frontline with our friends, that’s all part of the same fight. But it is also necessary to fight with the gun to keep away the enemy that wants to kill us.
When I came here I was surprised about the common lifestyle in YPJ. In my life before I didn’t know something like this, so it was completely foreign to me. I was not good at getting close to people and really build a relation. But here the good relation to each other and the friendship is everything. After a while I got used to the communal lifestyle. Ever since I could connect with people on a deeper level. This really brought up my courage, because we are strong together. Now I am not scared to get to know people anymore and that they get to know me.
What was also making me think a lot is, that people never ever think of themselves, but always about their friends. Even in the smallest things they will take care, that another person will be satisfied first. So for example, someone will not drink the tea until everyone has tea. This was also a totally new principle for me, but I find it very great and fascinating. But an obstacle, especially for a Canadian, is really the weather. It is very hot here in summer, so sometimes I was wondering if I could manage it. But also this depends on a strong will and after a time I just told myself, ok, I can do it and move, even though it’s 50 degrees. And then it worked!

~*~ Şilan ~*~

My name is Şilan, I am 23 years old and came from Europe to support the Rojava Revolution giving my own potential. If I look back, the first and and most important learning effect here was, that it is a wrong approach to just come here to “help”. We can be grateful to be invited to participate, we are not someone from the outside giving a little support and then leaving again, no, once we are here we become a part of the whole thing. To learn, to understand and to develop oneself. I learned about the whole revolution some years ago, when it was new and threatened by Islamist forces, who wanted to destroy it and overtake the land. I felt, that I should do something, but I actually didn’t really know what. But I thought, okay, if I and many other people go there, maybe this could already be helping the region in an international diplomatic sense. I didn’t care if something could happen to me because of the war and all the weapons, but still from far away was not thinking at all of becoming a fighter myself. At first I worked in civil life here. In that time I met so many young people who had been injured, and not only once, I met mothers and fathers whose children had been martyred in the battles of Kobane, Sedadi or later Minbic. And I could slowly understand, what it really means to defend the area and the democratic idea behind it. For every metre land that is freed the people as a whole are paying a price. And concerning this, it is very impressive, that the YPJ and YPG didn’t stop just saving their own land but even took responsibility to liberate other cities. We have to understand, that this is not necessary for the people of Rojava. It is pure idealism and belief in real democracy. All this impressed me very much and I think, that it is hard to value this struggle for people in Europe who think, that they are actually already living in democracy. So I took the decision to join the YPJ to also contribute to the military part of the revolution. I felt it was the right thing to do, but of course in the beginning I was afraid. Mostly that I could make a stupid mistake and this would cost the life of someone. Or that I would just be too weak physically, which would be more than annoying in certain moments. When I came new, I was surprised how much YPJ and YPG are taking the education of their soldiers seriously. At first you learn about ethic values, society, freedom philosophy, true friendship, history of the region and of course how to behave as a revolutionary fighter – be always nice to the people, be an ethical example to your friends, don’t even think of taking something away from empty houses. Later you may learn to shoot. But even this… It is always underlined, that the gun has a special meaning and that it is embedded in many different ways of self defense. Using the gun as a YPJ-fighter means not to forget, that you are just defending a transformation and that war is actually something humankind needs to overcome. So after a time this way of giving meaning to things took away my fear of making mistakes or being too weak. Another reason for overcoming this was, that there were always experienced people around me who could help me with doubts and knew what to do in dangerous situations. But that doesn’t mean, that there were no problems of course. At the beginning, and that doesn’t only count for the military, but for every place in Rojava, for Westerners it is a process to get used to the communal life. All our lifes (most of us) had their own room or even flat, suddenly you are always surrounded by people, you sleep in the same place and do everything together. Actually it is really nice, because it develops also a communal responsibility for each other. For example if someone is sad, someone else will immediately notice and help. But for me it was necessary to sometimes really force myself not to be annoyed by so many voices and emotions around me. Another thing was of course the language. Kurdish is not difficult at all, but for historical reasons there are so many different dialects and specialities which you can’t find in any book. For me it was difficult to learn from people themselves, and especially if five people told me five different words for the same thing. I think it is important to be patient and not blame oneself not to have learned such an easy language in a month. And to find people who can help in getting used to speaking. After I learned the language well, it was also easier for me to get in touch with people and enjoy the unique atmosphere in which everyone, no matter what age or education or something, is accepted equally. So to conclude I am very happy I took these 2 decisions, one to come to Rojava and then to join YPJ, because it allowed me to really do something against the evil in the world and at the same time to learn so many things. There is a famous political slogan called “all different – all same”, which includes many important propositions about how people should live together. Every person is a different individual, with different habits, abilities, interests and problems. So it is necessary to give people the possibility to live their individuality according to their needs. To accept everyone around in their own history and appearance. But to create an atmosphere which allows this, there is the other part – to allow everyone the same options for her life. For a really long time I have been thinking about this slogan – how it would be necessary to live and to really put it into practice. And I have to say, in YPJ we come really close to this utopia of living together: The outside frame is the same for everyone – same clothes, same food, same ethical code and of course the same goal of freeing the region from oppression. But this frame seems to enable the people to accept and love each other’s personalities and interests to a scale I would have never dreamed of before. If differences are always exhausting in our societies, which is why we build closed peer groups and just talk to people of ‘our kind’, here it is like people are complementing each other with their differences. That is really nice to see and to experience. And no matter, what personal difficulties someone has, like be it the language at the beginning in my case, always someone will notice it and help you.

~*~Roza ~*~

Roza is a 22 year old Swedish woman. She has been fighting in the frontlines with her friends from the YPJ for over two years now, she has participated in countless operations to liberate dozens of territories. With her humble attitude and her smiling face, Roza’s YPJ friends call her the “Swedish flower of the fronts”.

She is almost fresh out of high school. She used to work in the dry cleaners her family owned, and led an ordinary life. She followed world and Middle East news from her television. In time, she started to feel as a natural part of the Rojava Revolution and the Kurds’ fight against ISIS barbarism. She started to focus more on the issue, and she did research. She had always had a soft spot for solidarity and charity. All in all, she reached a decision. “I actually understood that one of the most important places a woman can do good for all the women in the world and contribute to the revolution was the YPJ, even before I personally joined the YPJ. Shortly before I joined, I was convinced,” says Roza. She left her family and her job at age 20 and arrived in Rojava.

She made it just in time for the final days of the Kobanê resistance. She participated in the Shaddadi and Manbij operations from the start. Especially in the Manbij operation, she was fighting until the end. She took part in efforts in almost all areas of Rojava, both in the fronts and in the liberated zones.

She reminisces about routine life in Europe and talks about how meaningful the YPJ is for her: “The young women who join the YPJ learn of their freedom, break away from the dominant system and become individuals. They gain the women’s perspective and ideology. This continues in a beautiful cycle. The women’s struggle in the Middle East is exalted and women are emancipated. And, the women don’t stop there and they fight in the front lines against a barbaric element like ISIS. Being here in the Raqqa front was indispensable for me. I want to share the war, victory and the joy of freedom.”

Roza had no issues with her family. She says she convinced them. She says her family now knows more about the women’s struggle in Kurdistan and talk about it to their friends, and continues: “Of course they are very much afraid I will get wounded here or worse, but they are also very proud of me.”

Roza’s future plans also involve Rojava. She wants to stay in Rojava, settle in and serve the people, especially children. She wants to work in child development and with young people and support their education. One of her biggest dreams is to work in hospitals.

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