For more than three weeks, I have been in Deir ez-Zor following, documenting and publishing information about the evacuation of civilians from Al-Baghouz, the last pocket of the fascist Daesh caliphate. These people have become a significant topic around the world. But who is coming out, how, and what does it mean?
There are different points, leading me to give another point of view. Most of the people who were coming out were Daesh families, as well as lots of suspected members of Daesh. The difference is that most of the women weren't fighting. Daesh has been using them as human shields. But there are also many who stayed voluntarily. They are coming out and telling almost all the same story: none of their husbands were fighting. All of them were just giving medical help. Believing this story means that ISIS is a medical company— but not a terrorist organisation.
These women who came out didn't feel liberated because they had been freed from Daesh, but because they got clean drinking water, food and medical help. They only felt sad for their own lives. This is not my comment or opinion— they are saying this on their own.
Who was, and is still, managing this incredible act of getting them out and providing all their necessities?
They are the members of the YPJ, YPG and SDF. I was with YPJ, when they went there early in the morning and went back when it started to get dark. I spend time in their Tabûr, talked with them, ate with them, sharing our life close to the front line. These female fighters had different life stories. Not a small number of them lived under Daesh themselves. Some even were sold by them, or forced to marry and give birth to children at an unbelievable young age. These women had been able to escape, and decided to join the women's self-defense units of the YPJ. No matter how their life was before joining YPJ, each one of them decided to protect themselves, their gender, and their land. These women are heroines. They have strong humanitarian values and the deepest belief in a better world. They know clearly that they are the ones who have to build it up. And they are ready to do so, ready to give their lives to protect this ideal. Even having their own horrible stories of life under Daesh terrorism, they are the ones who are giving everything to help these people.
Despite this, the vast majority of the civilians here still have the Daesh mindset.
All of this is exactly because the YPJ have a clear idea about what is right and what is not. Because a human is a human, the SDF, YPG, and YPJ have evacuated these Daesh civilians and given the fighters an opportunity to surrender. The civilians, in turn, call them kafirs, ask them why they attacked them, and speak to them in bad and disrespectful ways— but don't hesitate for a second to take all the aid they provide.
Despite this, I didn't see even once a YPJ fighter reacting in the same or just similar way. They stayed polite, continuing day after day with their hard work. They calmed down the arriving women and even made them smile, helping them carry their babies and baggage. And they did it without any doubt, because they know they are doing good.
I saw Daesh women being rude to each other, not helping each other even in this serious situation. I saw that there was enough water for everybody, maybe even more, but they amassed much more water and bread than they needed, watching others who did not do this. I saw emaciated children and babies, some probably near death. I heard people saying that in Al-Baghouz there were still resources for the important people, but nothing for the poor. I saw women raising their forefinger in an obvious sign of support for Daesh, an answer to their defeat.
I also saw that their stories are being told around the world. The stories they are telling make people pity them. There might be a few who realized what Daesh was too late and couldn't get out anymore, but these are not the majority. The majority of these women do not regret anything. They are sad for themselves, sad for their own lives, and still trying to get out in the best condition they can.
It makes me sad to see that these women now get to tell fantasy stories that nobody can prove on the world stage. They are treated as poor, unfortunate women who just 'made a mistake.'
At the same time, there is no space to talk about the thousands of Ezidi women and children who are still missing after the feminicide and genocide against the Ezidi people that Daesh committed in 2014. At the same time, journalists say that an interview with YPJ fighters would not be a "story"— which means that it would not interesting enough to be sold and to make money. It would not be interesting enough for these people, who want to get news about the bad but not the good. I‘m not asking why, though I think I know the reasons quite well. But still it makes me sad. They are the result of 5,000 years of patriarchy, what continues to destroy the beautiful and true life by methods like this: making good invisible and reversing the roles of those who suffered and those who caused suffering. We won‘t and can‘t accept a world like this. All these circumstances strengthen and insure our decision to fight for change.
In the end, it is these women, who suffered under Daesh, who now help Daesh families and treat them decently. We are left with a situation where the people who are still missing are not a topic of discussion, but the perpetrators of atrocities are. And we are left with a situation where evacuating Daesh families means nothing less than evacuating Daesh families. There is an unbelievable number of children nurtured in the fascist ISIS ideology. Most of their mothers will not stop instilling these believes in their children. Many of their fathers have been killed or jailed. This big mass of hate still exists. After the incredible fight of YPJ, YPG and SDF over the past several years, which cost a painful number of lives, the ongoing struggle for real democracy, women's liberation, and an ecological economy and life has to face this heavy task. Meanwhile, the Turkish state became a fascist dictatorship, threatening to doing the same to our people as ISIS did before, and starting the same process in occupied Efrîn: torture, oppression, Turkification, displacement, and massacres.
People are kept calm by constantly reading and talking about these bad and unfortunate people. If the building of real democracy, the struggle for women's liberation, and the search for an ecological solution were discussed and heard, people might wake up. They might stand up to defend this small flower of hope. They might start to spread it, might be enflamed by this spark. They might realize the doom of humanity, capitalist modernity, and rescue mother earth by developing a natural community of democratic modernity.
This is what YPJ is fighting for. This is what YPJ is defending as women's self-defense units. Here is something really valuable, something beautiful, a good sensation.
So let's talk about something that is important to discuss around the world. These are questions like: How will we overcome the ISIS mentality? With examples like Germany's process after the Holocaust, we can see what we should and shouldn‘t do. Or: How to life in peace and democracy around the world? Here, with the example of Rojava during the last few years, we can see what we could do. Or: How to rescue this planet from the ongoing ecological crisis?
Instead of being disgusted by receiving the single stories of Daesh civilians, let‘s be creative and solve the problems of humanity and nature together. Let's open our eyes and hearts and reconnect them, to really see what‘s going on all over the world. Let‘s stop and prevent the bad, and grow and protect the good.
February, 23rd 2019
YPJ International Fighters Information Office