KURDISTAN: Position of Women in PJAK's Democratic Confederalism

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Western Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Conflict Prevention
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

(Photo Bulent Kilic / AFP/Getty Images)

Would a traditional struggle overwhelmed by sexism and affiliated discriminative tendencies be capable of liberating Kurdistan?

Without participation of free woman, would the free Kurdistan be possible? Has not the time arrived for free participation of women in the process of democratisation to make for the substantial change toward the construction of democratic nation? Has not the time arrived to cross off the culture of oppression, and save Kurdistan - the land of the Goddesses - from occupation, suppression and the plunders of the states and patriarchal regimes? Has not the time arrived for us to know and understand that the current oppression of women is such a horrendous political order affecting the lives of all of us?

These are questions urging answers, for the Kurdistan's society is constantly entangled with such issues. The entirety of the Kurdish issue should be considered, it should not be fractioned or partitioned. Once we are considering the Kurdish issue we should include all of its dimensions. One dimension of this issue is the question of women. The emancipation of women is not an issue that could be segregated from political, civil, social and even economic domains. Women should be considered as the foundation of the social life. “Economic works, collective activities, sense of collective attachment and social identity” are the concepts with historical and irremovable connection with women.

To the extent that the question of women is cultural and conceptual it is also enmeshed with politics. The question of how women live, in itself, sets the ground for the most substantial form of politics. The politics of the state has always been based on the hub of the domination of man over the ‘life and women'. Let's take a look at Kurdistan; the state's oppression of Kurdistan resembles the daily oppression of women at the hands of men. To the extent they cause the Kurdish women collapse, and subjecting them to humiliation, oppression and discrimination, to the same extent Kurdistan would be conquered and occupied. In opposition to such colonialism, unfortunately, the Kurdish traditional politics didn't promote the level of freedom in Kurdistan.

One of the main reasons for that is the fact that Kurdish traditional politics was stifled by the impasse of women's issue. Freedom would be acquired once it is achieved from all respects. Even if the geographical boundaries of your territories are freed but women are still captive of the patriarchal mentalities, you can't claim that you have achieved freedom. Take a look at the Kurdish society; it has the highest level of suicide in Iran and such suicides are normally typical suicide of women. The Kurdish nation is under national oppression and the Kurdish women under double oppression for both being a Kurd and a woman. What type of solution has the Kurdish traditional politics offered to such an epidemic? Without a doubt I can claim nothing, because the Kurdish traditional politics is based on the hierarchy of power.

The application of power in the sexist society has led women to suicide. Power is the concept which has led the Kurdish women to deadlock, where instead of opting for restoration of self-esteem and freedom campaign, it leads them to self-denying and suicide. But where dose this power emanate from? It should be argued that the power is transferred from the state to the families, where it is implemented against women. Each man in his family plays the role of Ahmadinijad, Khamaneyi or Erdogan for his wife. Such wife is that Kurdistan! Have you now noticed that the relation based on power and duress is so extensive? Politics is not an issue strictly confined to the president, the state apparatus or the members of the parliament.

Owing to the way of our lives, we are all related to politics. The statist politics, which is produced through the mental inculcation over the families, have taken the minds of humans captive. Such politics has often imposed great subjugation of women, since the only mean capable of pushing men and society in the service of the state and mentality of domination, is the issue of gender. A man who feels successful in gender domination resembles a king or a jurisprudent that is relying on the edifice of power. In opposition to the oppression the state and the superpowers have imposed on the Kurdish society, the Kurdish traditional politics made preparations and to some extent it also involved women, but at the end, it didn't free women.

Even after the departure from the domain of resistance where the political men retired, the women activists eventually settled in house as midwives. But what was the result? With the application of an unprecedented force the state pursued policies of eradication of Kurdish culture. In resistance to the Iranian Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the state's local supporters and collaborators as well as militias (Besij), our society was bereft defenceless. The state started to apply its sheer violence in the broadest way against our people. The will-powers collapsed, more than any one the will-power of women. Such a defeat was not only in the social or political field, but also in the cultural domain to the same extent.

The extent of the annihilation of the Kurdish language and culture is closely related with the captivity of women. With the exclusion of women from the domain of struggle, the Kurdish classical politics practically opened the way for Iranian nationalism and centralism. Instead of generating the ideal of freedom and emancipation from patriarchal society for Kurdish women, Kurdish traditional politics generated an ideal of having indulgence life with husband and several children. This is what the Islamic Republic of Iran has been propagating for. The classic politics told the Kurdish women to withdraw from freedom of Kurdistan and become a good midwife instead, that would suffice.

From a captive and depowered woman, only captive and depowered children could be born. The Islamic Republic has been developing such a formulation for the last few decades of its oppression and despotism. Let's take a look at the new generation of our surroundings; they are struggling with the worst kind of social problems, because, in the personality of the Kurdish women they have pushed the Kurdish identity and culture to the edge of destruction. The figures of the criminals, offenders, the ignorant of intellectual-pretending, and the honour killings and etc, have increased because the foundation of society which is the woman, has been forced into disintegration of personality. A disintegrated woman resembles a mirror in which the image of a disintegrated society is reflected and nothing else.

The state is the central culpable and responsible for this catastrophe. Notwithstanding, the Kurdish traditional politicians - as the main protectors of society - should also be asked, what have you done in resistance to such a state? Have you managed to create a breathing space for the Kurdish women, children and youths? Unavoidably, I have to answer this question myself again, No! The Kurdish traditional politics emphasised on the sustainability of traditional patriarchal family, it persisted the gender discriminations and feared democratisation of families. Democratisation of family serves as the first step toward democratisation of the whole society. Democratisation of Kurdish society means empowerment of society and the loss of conservative interests of the Kurdish traditional politicians.

The Kurdish traditional man, if he become a partisan and eventually grasp a tiny nationalist administration for himself, he would be stranger to the freedom of women. Freedom of woman is seen as a danger for him, because he is an unquestionable dominant of the political sphere. He is hostile to partner, everything must be under his influence. He embellishes Kurdish women only in the exhibition of the literature and arts, exaggerates and boasts of her beauty, but he doesn't allow her to engage in politics, in equal and free participation in the political activities. By his lies and deceptive political deeds he make her a non-political being; but according to Aristotle ‘human is a political animal'. It's not held that only men are political. But from the perspective of Kurdish traditional politicians, only men can engage in politics.

Even if women do engage in the politics, they are the followers, submissive and occupy the junior ranks. The main goal of the Kurdish traditional politics is to create a “type of obedient woman - midwife and submissive to Kurd” as a substitute for a “type of obedient woman - midwife and submissive to Iran”, who is indifferent to discrimination and violence. Let's see, only the names have been changed, but nothing is changed. In resistance to such a calamitous situation we should seek for a different system. By applying the methods that has already been tried and their consequences are quite clear, we can't usher into new era. Our view and paradigm should change. An ideology, which regards women as inferior or ultimately as the object of beauty and entertainment, is corrupt bizarre and a terminated one.

If we don't want to witness suicide, self-immolation, murder and torture of our sisters, wives and mothers we should withdraw from such a rotten paradigm. We need a modern but democratic paradigm. We should not push women out of the traditional situation and set them on the traps of the modern world that the West is encouraging. We should return to our own principles, to our own precepts and to our authentic culture. In our origin culture, women are valuable and to the extent of the Goddesses are respectable. We are in need of such a culture. To achieve such a democratic and authentic culture we should straightaway begin to change our paradigm. We should realise the not only women are not less than men, but due to their natural characteristics, they are the main sources of progress and developments of societies.

This is a universal principle. The femininity is a universal principle. Anything capable of ‘generation, division and proliferation' has a characteristic of femininity and femaleness. In fact the existence of the universe and its outlet from non-existence has some kinds of delivery and birth giving. It's evident that delivery and birth giving requires characteristics of femininity. Hence our world has femininity characteristic, thus femaleness is not only deficiency, but in fact sacred and blessed. Femaleness is a remarkable element for the creation of the possibility of life. This paradigm is a healthy and vigorous paradigm, based upon which the possibility of freedom can be erected. There is no any sign of injustice, force and violence. Our society needs such concept and paradigm to solve its problems. But having the paradigm only would not suffice. In contrast to the traditional and anti-democratic system, we should establish a modern and democratic system. This system is titled as ‘Democratic Confederalism'.

Democratic Confederalism is not a sexist system. In this system, to the extent the cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity is respected and are encouraged to take part in politics, the gender equality is respected. In the Democratic Confederalism, men are not the all-doers. In such a system women create their foremost advanced institutions, and to meet their full range of needs they actively participate. In contrast to other existing system, in the Democratic Confederalism, women are not treated as tools, but active participators. In the other systems, women are often treated as ‘tools for gender production, housework, some heavy tasks and eventually an obedient object of submission'.

In Democratic Confederalism women are not bereft on their own, but as the foundations for socialisation they occupy high raking status, because Democratic Confederalism takes ‘socialisation, freedom and equality values' as the bases for its evolution. Democratic Confederalism is incompatible with power; it is incompatible with what has victimised women. Therefore, in contrast to other existing systems which have confided women and deprived them of free thinking and free practices, Democratic Confederalism is the locus for presentation of the will of women. This is a place for women where there are politics, organisation, democracy, will-power, respect and of course there is duty and activities to fulfil commitments.

In certain schools and political parties, talks of gender equality have surfaced, but such a discourse has never turned into a living political and social scheme and remained as a slogan only. Nonetheless Democratic Confederalism would develop a paradigm based on ecologic-democratic society and gender equality into a dynamic political system. In the Kurdish traditional politics, there were women who took up arms alongside men, but it was men who made the ultimate decisions. But in our politics women are not only the co-campaigners or the companions of men. In Democratic Confederalism women are engaged in politics, philosophy, and science. They are engaged in the process of decision-making. Their opinions are regarded as significant and decisive, because if their opinion is not considered important and if their will is rejected, we won't be able to create a free social life. The main goal of Democratic Confederalism is to create a political structure in the Kurdish society capable of providing a healthy social life with free participation of all.

Democratic Confederalism would muster all the pro-freedom dynamics of society and develop them into a system. In contrast to some hitherto systems in which people are framed to live in the future, this is not a utopia or unachievable idea. Hence it's not giving promises, but it realises them. Since women have more than any other identities of the society been oppressed, they would become more compatible with Democratic Confederalism and get further engaged in it.

Politics without women would be callous politics. We have all seen its consequences. Politics of the states and the power-seeking parties are all deceptive and anti-women politics. But our social politics is the politics of the society itself; a kind of ‘art of achieving a free life and its management'. For example, Kurdish politics means the art of management of Kurdish nation in order to create a system based on free life. Owing to the fact that life is not an issue related to men only, hence it's necessary that women should also participate in the social politics.

Politics without women is not politics but plunder and monopolisation. It's like as if you have destroyed a part of life. Politics of the states have always violated the rights of women. For example pay attention to the words of dictators such as Admadinejad and Erdogan; they always talk about the politics of population and the number of children should the families have. They tie the army, officials, the staffs and their workers with their population politics. The underpinning of this politics is to deprive women of political and social participation and turn them into a sexual tool. Democratic Confederalism is a system which terminates such gruesome and anti-ethical politics.

In Democratic Confederalism, a language of slavery won't become another language, a slavery religion won't become another religion, a culture of slavery won't become another culture, a slave nation won't become another nation, and to the same extent, a slave gender won't become another gender. It means that women in this ‘another' system are not second sex, inferior, and a sexual being. Exactly contrariwise, in Democratic Confederalism women are active and alive beings, they are valuable as the main participators and without them there could be no talk of democracy and freedom. Without doubt all those people who oppose democracy, they oppose freedom of women too. It means that there is a direct relationship between democracy and freedom of women.

Dictators have always based their politics on anti-women principles. Khamenei, Ahmadinejak, Erdogan and Fathullah Gulen are the example of this. They have crossed off women from the domain of life and then erected their tyranny. This is not unpremeditated that in Iran there have been all these security schemes based on tackling the veil-less women, capture of women and journalists, capture and torture of female activists. This is not unpremeditated that all these policies of humiliation, torture and offensiveness against the Kurdish mothers in North Kurdistan have been practised.

In the East of Kurdistan also Besij and the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), with the spread prostitution and dissolution of the social position of women in the society, have empowered themselves. In the state's system, the social and political affairs are allocated and divided according to gender. In the process of such allocation and division, they are practically marginalised. But in Democratic Confederalism, participation of women in all affairs is taken as the basis. In politics, education, economy, welfare, self-defence, ecology, art and culture, science and industry, within all these domains women take place without facing sexual discrimination.

Violence is the characteristic of the states and those who seek power. Violence is a means used for plunder and expropriation. In Democratic Confederalism which opposes plunder and expropriation, the matters are based on equality and collectivism. Hence there would not be any room for violence. Women who are the main victims of violence, only within the system of Democratic Confederalism are able to defend themselves and preserve their will. Democratic Confederalism is in fact a robust barrier against the social oppression the state apparatus has implemented and developed. Democratic Confederalism is not a system that could be erected out of women participation, because the essence of this system is based on the recognition of all identities.

Woman is an identity, a diversity, a natural difference and a being whose denial and rejection denotes the rejection and denial of life. Hence in Democratic Confederalism which is social and political system aimed at revitalization of humanity against the leviathan of modern state, women has a key and noticeable participation.

Women freedom movements, owing to their lack of system, were often destabilised and collapsed. But Democratic Confederalism is a strong fortification for freedom of women. To the extent the state is an anti-woman structure, Democratic Confederalism offers a suitable structure for liberation of women. In Democratic Confederalism, the local management which stems from the heart of society are taken as the basis. It's evident that women as the forerunner of the social management, hence they should have an active role in all spheres. From a local commune who deals with the local issues, to the city's assembly responsible for the city's affairs women should participate. Solutions to the problems could not be found unilaterally - by only taking men's views into account.

Due to their natural characteristics, women are often better in approaches that are more peaceful, more intelligent and more equality oriented. Owing to this, they are positioned in all the local and regional institutions and their managements - in the context of Democratic Confederalism. Women play suitable role deserving their character and would come out of their passiveness.

To achieve utopia and beautiful longing for freedom, we should struggle against all traps of the capitalist modernity including, nationalism, sexism, positivism and religiousness. And instead, we should respect all nations; we should engage different genders in free participation and detest slavery, we should avoid a science that denounces ethic and embrace a science that would serve for our freedom and we should also instead of religious fundamentalism, respect all religions and all different faiths. These are all possible in Democratic Confederalism.

Therefore to achieve the most beautiful, the most free, the most correct and the best life, we should work to promote Democratic Confederalism that PJAK (Kurdistan Free Life Party) is advocating in East of Kurdistan and work for its construction.

To reach a world where there is no any sign of violence against women and the slavery fetters of inappropriate relations are broken, is possible once a sustainable campaign is employed.... You should also take part, because nothing is more beautiful than a free life.