To wait for help is madness.
This is an interview by anarchist internationalists in Rojava with Heval Amara, an international comrade who joined the Kurdish freedom movement in the last few years. She was influenced by the resistance in the cities of Bakur against the new attacks of the Turkish fascist state in 2015-16. She views the current attacks on the Mediya defense as an attacks on the ideology of the Kurdish freedom movement.
How would you define yourself politically and what is your background in organizing in Europe?
I would describe myself as an anarchist revolutionary woman who is fighting for freedom. I became an Apoci, because I was always missing the real solidarity between organized friends who would never give up their hope and would stay together to intensify the fight when there are problems instead of splitting up into different small groups.
Why did you decide to come to Rojava in the first place? Which structure did you join and why?
For me the revolution in Rojava gives us a lot of hope and perspectives for the future in a depressed and frustrated time, in that we are struggling under the patriarchal system of national states and loneliness in Europe. The ideology of Abdullah Öcalan, the revolutionaries in Rojava and the guerrilla from the mountains show us how a struggle can be successful and is a real alternative for a long term fight for freedom, not just in Kurdistan or in the Middle East, but all over the world. I came for the women‘s struggle, but I realized that I wanted to change my whole life. When you see what revolution means in it’s deep heart and with all the pain, it becomes clear that you have to give all your effort, all your love, all your experiences, all your thoughts, all your feelings for the revolution. If you want to make a real change, it means that you also have to work on your mentality to become a militant personality, because this will make a change. That is why I joined the PKK and went to the guerrillas in the mountains for education.
Can you tell us a little bit about the collective life in the mountains? Did you have some revelations related to that? What were the challenges of the collective life? What was the strongest experience for you?
The time in the mountains was a big experience in every way. I never learned so much before in my life: starting with your own personality and patterns, your behaviors, your way of having contact with your friends. The strategies you learn in the capitalist system, to solve your personal problems and to survive, in a way don’t solve the roots of the problems, which are in fact the same for all women around the world, for all oppressed people, for nature and our environment. In the mountains you get a really close contact with all of it. Your brain, your body, you‘re feelings and your emotions are connected with your living environment. You can breathe again! You can open your eyes to all directions. You can make big steps forward if you see it as a real chance for changing, because you get help from all sides. But you should let it happen, and not block the process, which is sometimes also hard to achieve. The best friendship is when friends are criticizing you to see where the problems are coming from. I cannot weigh or count my experiences. That is why I cannot compare it in a positivist way. Because everything that makes your thinking change, and lets you feel that you are part of a huge progress, gives you so much hope, strength and motivation to continue what all the revolutionaries and especially the women did before. You come to this historic moment, where you are able to live kind of a free life, closely connected to nature and the friends around you. One really special moment for me was when one guerrilla-friend was dreaming about my pain and my violent experiences from the past, so that it was a shared process of feeling connected to each other. This happened without sharing it in a verbal way but in an emotionally connected way of feminine power against the oppression of our bodies, brains and feelings. There are two quotes from early Sufist philosophy, that I want to share in this context: “Raise your words not your voice, because it is the rain that grows flowers, not thunders.“ “Your task is not to seek love, but merrily to seek and find all the barriers within your self, that you have built up against it.“
Under which circumstances comrades can go to the mountains? Do you become a cadre when you go to the mountains?
As far as I know when you want to join the guerrilla in the mountains you have to become cadre. But I heard that there are also ways to go to the mountains and see there–first take a Kurdish language course and after that you can also take the “Servani-nu” course from YJA-Star for new fighters. You can decide later on if you want to become cadre or not. But it is always important to feel connected to the movement and to give a lot of respect to the friends. You have the possibility to see this education what they have aspired to until now. It’s not just a ‘gaining’ of information, knowledge and experience individually, but also about giving something back, so that it is always in a balance.
The central question in this revolution is the women‘s liberation: it’s a women’s revolution. Women taking up arms is only a one point. Can you elaborate a bit based on your experience: which aspects of the women’s struggle you find especially important?
Women’s revolution means for me that we are not alone anymore in our struggle against patriarchal behavior, sexism, control, violence, or competition, but that we are sharing everything in a solidarity way and taking care of each other. It’s about being aware of our surroundings instead of exploitation, making profit out of everything, thinking we own everything. Instead we are belonging to our environment and so on… So you can see the women‘s revolution as an organized self-governing structure actually in every single moment of your daily life. It is this change which makes the revolution, not the physical attack or action against repression. For sure to keep already liberated places free, you need to protect them, because patriarchy will not give up it’s power without a fight.
What about masculinity? Does the ideology address how men can change their approach to masculinity and become anti-patriarchal fighters?
It is one of the main questions: how to overcome the aggressive, anti-feminist and oppressive relationship between humans and our surroundings in this Revolution. The revolution has to find answers for this. So we have to overcome patriarchy definitively, because this is the main root of the poison that creates the biggest problems today. That‘s why we are saying we have to kill the dominant male in ourselves. If you don‘t start with a self-reflection you cannot make a change. Because of this 98% of the revolutionary fight is the fight against the enemy inside of us, and just 2% against the outside enemy. If we are not willing to change ourselves, we will never be able to free ourselves nor anyone or anything else. We would just reproduce the same system in a different color.
This means to make deep connections and it also means to withstand contradictions, even when it sometimes leads to conflicts, because not all our values will fit to each other. We should learn to solve these conflicts in a respectful and constructive way instead of splitting up with each other, because this is what keeps the system and the psychological attacks on us going.
How do you see the queer and feminist movements in the West? What could they learn from the women‘s struggle in Rojava?
I see them maybe a bit negatively. Before I came here I saw myself as a feminist woman who is struggling for the freedom of all genders, children, animals and oppressed living beings, but I never found a solution for how to overcome the problems of dominant male behavior in another way than just struggling for, let‘s say, ‘my own rights.’ That‘s why I was looking for something more than just what the queer (feminist) movement in Europe is doing. Because for me they are revolutionaries – of course – but with a closed view. And that’s why until now we haven’t found a solution for overcoming patriarchy, sexism, homophobia or ageism in our society. Because we are too close to our personal problems, instead of opening our eyes. If you make the definition of what you are narrower and narrower, it is in a way excluding everyone who doesn‘t understand that you don‘t want to fit in one of the categories our society proposes. You have to split up with most of the fighting groups or movements surrounding you, but in the same time you lose a lot of perspectives and heterogenity around you; because you are not accepting them, because they are not as radical as you are. That is why, when we look at the history of feminist women’s struggles around the world, there wasn’t an answer for all the oppressed living beings until now. What we need is a radical change of view. We don’t accept any more attacks on any living being, and we need a huge strength of organizing (together we are strong, but alone they can attack you on your weakest points). This means to make deep connections and it also means to withstand contradictions, even when it sometimes leads to conflicts, because not all our values will fit to each other. We should learn to solve these conflicts in a respectful and constructive way instead of splitting up with each other, because this is what keeps the system and the psychological attacks on us going. What we definitely can learn from the revolutionary struggle in Rojava and from the Kurdish guerilla-women, is the way of organizing, to overcome personal problems with methods of critique and self-critique and Jineoloji as a worldwide change to free us from the male mentality, which dominates all our cells by dominating our history, our knowledge and science, our way of thinking, our way of feeling, our way of going into relationships, our way of showing love…
In this revolution, like in any other, there are some contradictions that it has to find solutions for. What do you feel are the biggest contradictions?
I want to ask back, why do we think we have to overcome all the contradictions? Why can we not accept that there are different ways of coming together? Our world and the revolution is based on dialectical relations. Isn‘t it the dialectics that keeps the cycle alive and guards for permanent motion? What we are looking for is solutions, not unity. Maybe this is the biggest contradiction I saw until now: the dogmatic ways of searching for solutions and not freeing our own minds to let our own thoughts fly. The Kurdish movement is, amongst other things, based on having a strong ideological education for the people who participate in the armed defense and in building the revolution, because only with a weapon in your hand can you bring the ideological revolution to success and defend it.
The Rojava revolution, and the Democratic Confederalism are an example a society where everyone can live freely together. And this example is not only a solution for the Kurdish question or to solve the Third World War in the Middle East, but it is a perspective for all revolutionary struggles in the world to overcome the system of national states.
Let us talk about the structure of cadres in the Kurdish revolutionary movement. As we understood, you are also a cadre? Could you first provide us with a definition of cadre? How was your own process of becoming one? How do you see your position or responsibilities as an international cadre?
Yes, I am. As I said before, if you can only fight physically you cannot protect your philosophy of change. That‘s why I like the phrase of the Sufi philosophy mentioned earlier “Don‘t raise your voice but raise your words.” It means education, education, education! Şehid Mazlum Dogan said: “A guerilla has in one hand a weapon and in the other a book.” You cannot make a revolution just with a weapon. You also need to protect your free thoughts. And especially in the 21st century of technical progress with a big psycological warfare on brains, it is important that you also know how to protect your thoughts and feelings from attacks. You have to protect your values of a new way of how to live together instead of against each other. For sure for that you need some friends who are kind of role models to start somewhere. Until now this is the role of a cadre: It means to be a vanguard which leads society to start to organize itself in a collective and equal way. If you have a society that is feudal for thousands of years, together with a role for women who are oppressed for 5,000 years by the male mentality, you cannot make a change without any role model. How to make direct democratic decisions, how do you create an equal and non-hierarchical way of organizing your surroundings, how do you overcome the dominant point of view… all these things are examples which have to be changed to free society. You can call a cadre also a militant personality which fights against the dominant mentality at all levels, and dedicates their entire lives to the revolution. We have to understand the efforts of a cadre as a step to the free society we want to reach. A cadre is not a vanguard who makes the revolution, but a militant personality which leads the people in a mental and psychological way, to get the strength to fight for their own rights and to become a person who plays a role in the whole change. This is so that at some point you will not need the cadres any more, because society can coordinate and organize itself. The Kurdish freedom movement and the Rojava revolution, and especially the Democratic Confederalism are an example of Democratic Modernity: a society where everyone can live freely together. This example is not only a solution for the Kurdish question or to solve the Third World War in the Middle East, but it is a perspective for all revolutionary struggles in the world to overcome the system of national states and the so-called democratic parliament systems. It is an alternative for a free society all over the world. That‘s why I see the importance of strengthening international solidarity and struggle. For this I see international cadres playing their roles in the whole puzzle: through connecting the different utopias and organizing ourselves in a global way, to let them come true and not hold them anymore as a far unreachable dream in our hearts.
What role do you think internationalists should play in the Rojava revolution? Do you think stronger and more immediate links between Rojava and political movements in Europe and other places should be created? How could this look?
I just would like to answer this question with a message from Nûman Amed, an old guerrilla friend: “I don‘t give help, but I do real friendship!” In Kurdish you say “alîkarî” for help. The roots of this word come from “alî-karî” = “the side of work”. So this relationship is based on the result of work, in a materialist-capitalist way. But what we give each other in real friendships is power and respect while we are entering a deep connection: “rêhevalti," the Kurdish word for comrades means “the way of friendship.” So what I want to show with this example is that you shouldn’t see internationalism as a kind of help but as a connection that we are building up for organizing together until the end.
What things should we as international revolutionaries bring back from Rojava?
Hope! Liven up our utopias again and keep on going the way our revolutionary Şehids started before us, to bring their effort and love for a free life to a success.
Do you have a suggestion for how comrades can organize when they are back in their places of origin?
Start to organize your families, friends and neighborhoods. Let them talk and listening to each other again…
What do you think about the changing geopolitical situation of the area and the development of Rojava revolution in the light of the interests of the big powers? How can a revolutionary struggle win against those interests?
We don‘t need borders to free our minds. When we have fear, and this is what the masculine and fascist mentality has, we will go on in destruction, killing, genocide, violence, rape and war. But if we see Rojava as a solution we can create a new way of building up a free society while doing revolution and in the same way we are protecting our values and utopias for freedom. To wait for help is madness and you will not destroy your chains with the help of your tormentor. So let‘s do it with our friends around us and let it grow until you will reach all the hearts and hands of the oppressed living beings.
What keeps you going every day?
Never give up the hope of our Şehids and see the real friendship between free people!