From the Diary of Guerrilla Fighter Selma Doğan, Part 2

Published June 19, 2020

From the Diary of Guerrilla Fighter Selma Doğan, Part 2

The guerrilla fighter Zinarin wrote her diary in the form of letters to her friend and comrade, Melsa. Below is the second part of excerpts we are publishing from her diary.

February 11, 1997

Here is the battalion of Çiyaye Sipi (a region in Kurdistan) and here is the women’s unit… After a 26-hour march in snow, cold and wind, we have reached our place. I have been in the Party for more than four years now and almost a year and a half with the guerrillas. But it is obvious that I haven’t really lived until now. I see that I am only now taking a step towards the guerrilla and that I only now understand its beauties, which are closely linked to difficulties. The luxury guerrilla activity is over. It is valuable to live the true guerrilla life.

Yesterday, on the way here, we went to villages. We saw people with friendly faces and frightened looks, who were obviously poor and had bent backs. They were clearly full of fear. They felt compelled to praise us and to denounce the KDP: that was the first thing they did when they saw us. As if they had learned it by heart.

The reality of our people is very strange. How many reasons do we find for not being ourselves, and how much are we forced to do so? These people love us and under normal circumstances we would be their only leader at their request. But due to inner and outer pressure, everything about them became very artificial. We have doubts whether we should believe their love or not. They gave us some dates and bread and we ate it on our way. That was one of the best moments with the guerrillas. One of the moments when I understand what I live for, where and how.

We walked a bit. In front of us was a forest of thick oaks from which we heard lively songs. It was the first time I heard such songs in the mountains. I thought a place of such beauty existed only in paintings. The closer we came, the louder the voices became. About twenty children of different ages held hands and danced Halay. It is a holiday. When they saw us, they became even more lively and all together they sang: “Le sivaro, hey lele, hey lolo.”

Afterwards they welcomed us warmly and congratulated us on the holiday. One of them offered cigarettes and I actually wanted to accept. It was a moment when I would have loved to smoke a cigarette, but I didn’t take it. A child between the ages of four and five with huge eyes watched me with great interest. I asked him his name, but another one with bright eyes said: “His name is Hejar.” He was called Serdar. I gave Hejar a small photo of the chairman as a present. He was pleased and ashamed. The children had attached a big swing to one of the oak trees and invited me to swing. I was caught between the child inside me and the adult I was to be. After a few seconds of indecision, I calmed the child inside me who wanted to swing, gave priority to adulthood and said goodbye to the children. For another hour you could still hear her rocking and singing. I regretted it a thousand times, not rocking…

Then we joined the battalion. Our life, the way we live, the area we live in and some of the events here are not very nice, comrade, at least, often they are not. The methods in this struggle, which we call class struggle, change life in such a way that you don’t recognize it. Duplicity, gossip and scheming personalities are formed and become the method, instead of the cultivation of partisan culture, or at least that is what is tried. Already on the first day of my arrival, even when I was first sent, some things preoccupied me; I want to be open to you. When the chairman made me responsible for YAJK [Yekitiya Azadiya Jinen Kurdistan (Kurdish: Free Women’s Union of Kurdistan)] in this region, he said that I should also be active in the other areas and not be restricted. Although this was known, I was expelled from the general board of directors and only placed at the head of a group in Ciyaye Sipi, which is actually a department, but is organised like a company. They even refused to admit me to the regional assemblies for reasons of pretense. The women’s company actually consists of women who had not been deployed in war units before, a total of 30 female friends. That is not a problem for me, it is actually a better starting point. But I believe that I can pass on my three years of training and the large party assemblies I have attended to a wider circle, and that this is also the expectation of the party and the chairman. How do I explain this to myself? We must try to understand it politically. This is what the class struggle looks like. There are reasons why this is so. I must gain more clarity about this and perhaps I will write to you with the reason later.

Two days after my arrival here, I found it necessary to intervene in some aspects of general life; that was just one thing. But during my absence, it upset the commander in charge of the battalion very much. Decisions which she had tacitly agreed to during the meeting, she then, when passing them on to her male friends, presented as if she had been against them and that I had let the commander of a battalion run wild. I was astonished, but I also addressed her about it. I told her indirectly that her behaviour was duplicitous; she understood. In the morning, her behavior had changed.

We have an interesting friend here, his name is Bedir: “What specific questions should women have that they keep secret from men and try to resolve between themselves?” This curious friend is watching me in a strange way. He probably wants to know what will become of me. He is also very careful towards the YAJK and has serious fears. Even before I started the work, he warned me urgently, almost threateningly: “Be careful.” I will probably have some trouble with this commander friend.

… This is a bad feeling, I know, and I also know that it must be overcome, otherwise it will end badly. But I feel strange in this place. My heart wants to be a bird and fly to Zagros. To Xanxurke and sometimes over the mightiest mountains to Dersim and Munzur. My heart cries like an orphan, my love.

A greeting from you

Let spring come on the wings of the birds

At the summit of the bloody

And the heroic struggle

Let the red blood spilled

Germinate a rose

Which is then called “hope.”

Under the dark night

the sun should flee to earth

milk hope from the udders

to give it to the roots

February 17, 1997

If I were to tell you now the confusion of my feelings, my dear friend, you would not be able to recognize anger, nor hopelessness, nor sadness, nor hate, nor longing, nor anything else. For all feelings are melted in hatred into a single feeling. Perseverance, revenge and resoluteness. Yes! I do not have the strength to tell you my feelings, but I can tell you my own observations. How the man and the enslaved woman who is his disguise are becoming increasingly ugly. How disgusting they become. They disgust me. If you only knew how these disgusting, coarse and empty men disgust me. My hatred for the collaborating women who are the only reason these men exist is even stronger.

Today, they were like they had won a victory. When our friend Metin received the news that the work reports would be separated by company, he called us and said that the reports should be handed in individually. Of course, I did not see his approach detached from the general male attitude, from patriarchal approaches. But it must be said that our dear friends have made very good use of this opportunity. Then on the radio they told their friend Metin that I create differences between men and women in the group and thus, prevent unity. In the eyes of the women, I would deny everything, I myself would deny the work in front of me and, in the opinion of other commander friends, I would immediately intervene without listening to others and use the wrong methods in doing so. After that, of course, he recited all the known classic sayings. It would make no difference between man and woman. There would not be too many peculiarities, only the location of the place would be specific, but life would be the same. Therefore, the reports on the work should not be given separately, but together, and so on. Our male friends were in a winning mood afterwards. Our collaborating friend watched the reactions very carefully; she, too, assumed that she had won the first round, and everyone thought that I would react strongly emotionally. But I suppressed my anger and acted very controlled. I do not want to be considered a weak woman, because I am not a weak woman. I do have problems with the choice and application of methods, but I accepted this fight. I will not capitulate; my esteemed chairman gives me strength. I don’t care what they tell me, I know that my chairman will be with me in my fight for freedom as long as I invest work for it. I am convinced that in the end the woman who frees herself will win. This event has fueled my passion even further. I will do it, even if I make myself a bite [not sure what this means? – ed.], my efforts will be aimed at being a free breath for all women, without complaining and without crying. No one, neither a disgusting man nor an enslaved and collaborating woman, will succeed in stopping me.

February 20th, 1997

This phase is causing me difficulties, and it will cause me even more difficulties. But I won’t let it bring me down. The disgusting, unsatisfied complexes of the man, the backwardness and enslavement of the woman on the one hand and my daydreams on the other, my insufficient concentration and the superficiality in the development of feelings and thoughts will cause me a lot of difficulties. I will not succumb to man, woman, or myself. While I am very depressed and restless inside, I feel that my long-term problems are moving towards the light, towards the way out, and that there will be an explosion. Either I will accept my own backwardness or that of others, which would mean failure in the face of history, in the face of the chairman and all my comrades, in the face of all shared values and beauties. Or I will emerge from this situation very strong. I notice that I am approaching party-building with sharp thoughts. I feel the need for revolution and a new life, and I am convinced that this is the way to become a party. I’m ashamed of the laziness of my thoughts and feelings. For the first time, the idea of winning and building-up the party is consolidated.

I condemn my fleeting feelings on the horizon of the uprising. Because I see that my fluctuations of feelings are very selfish, that they eat up my feelings, my mind, my thoughts, my creativity, and my time like a monster. (…) Yes, I rebelled against my fleeting feelings and dreams. I realize that in order to defeat the outside world, I must first defeat myself. The anger about myself, the anger against everything that contradicts us, brings me to myself. (…) I feel the light after the painful phase. Melsa, a person cannot live without light. The darkness makes me want to search for the light like a madwoman until death. I will either die or embrace the only light, the revolution, Melsa.

From: https://komun-academy.com/2020/06/19/from-the-diary-of-selma-dogan-another-new-beginning-of-my-life-ii/