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Çand û Dîrok

Returning to Yourself and Being a Gerîla

Help! How do I return to myself?

We always talk about the importance of being yourself, but what does it truly mean to be yourself? Surely, without an understanding of what it means to be yourself, it is not possible to be yourself. Of course, this question is asked with the assumption that we know what “being yourself” means, and there is some truth to that; everyone has some sort of idea of what being yourself means. However, there is an issue with our conceptual understanding of what it means to be yourself. This understanding remains very individualistic and superficial. When person A thinks about being themselves, they think about being true to their core identity rather than faking a different one (in the hopes of appealing to others).This understanding of being yourself does not completely miss the mark, as a part of being yourself is not caring about how attractive you appear to other people. However, where it does not completely fulfil the criterion is where it defines being yourself as reaching your core identity. This appears to be a plausible idea at first glance, but this superficial definition overlooks an important factor: communal historical identity. Being yourself means knowing yourself, and knowing yourself means being aware of your importance, being aware of the power that you have to change the world… So why is there a false, or more appropriately, inadequate understanding of what it means to be yourself? Who creates these definitions for us and why don’t they want us to be aware that through an understanding of our historical identity we can become a force for an alternative existence?

What it means to be yourself

We can rephrase “who we are” into an understanding of our history and how this shapes our identity. When we think of our identity, there are a handful of things that come to mind; our name, gender, and age. What is important to point out is the fact that we are conditioned to think this way. This is not a natural response to the question of identity. There is a truth to the fact that from time to time there is an interest in one ethnic reality as part of our identity. But this is also slightly problematic as this interest only, or mostly, arises in communities that experience a threat to their ethnic reality and, therefore, as a mechanism to keep their ethnic reality alive, feel the need to embrace this reality and assert its importance. The problematic aspect of this is the fact that, as opposed to creating a healthy appreciation of one’s ethnicity, it creates an obsessive attraction to one’s identity. Then this turns into the appropriation of an identity, it turns into seeing one ethnicity as an aesthetic, an identification of “exoticism.” Despite the fact that this word has racist connotations, this kind of understanding is very developed… Can we see this within the Kurdish community? Surely, as one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world, we would have a deeper and more appreciative understanding of our ethnicity. Well, unfortunately, that is not the case. There are a lot of ways that we, as young Kurdish women, are the ones that devalue the importance of our own ethnicity and the roots of our identity. If we look at the social media pages of young Kurdish women, it is highly likely that they have indicated that they are Kurdish in their bio, have a highlight reel dedicated to the city in Kurdistan that they are from, and constantly post aesthetic photos with Kurdish or Middle Eastern symbols. This is not inherently a bad thing. Of course, it is not a crime to post about your culture, but what we must not forget is that this is not what it means to be Kurdish. The danger lies in the fact that this develops an understanding that the way to appreciate one culture is to post about it or to tattoo a symbol on your body. An incorrect understanding of appreciating your culture means you are unable to understand who you are and express yourself in a sincere manner.

The thin line between appreciation and appropriation

But what does it mean to express yourself in a sincere manner? What does it mean to return to your roots and understand who you are? How do you correctly appreciate your culture, and why is this especially important for someone of Kurdish descent? Being yourself, or understanding yourself, entails knowing your roots and being an instrument to help others understand those roots; it entails spreading your identity. In the roots of all Kurdish people lies a fire of resistance and a rich history of uprising. From the first Dersim uprising to the rebellion of Simko Shikak in Iranian Kurdistan. Now, if we are aware of this culture, how do we find it in ourselves to appreciate our roots through a post on Instagram or with a tattoo on our skin? We question, as Kurdish young women, how much we feel connected to our roots, how much we see ourselves as an important part of the Kurdish resistance in the 21st century. The whole world is aware that Kurdish women are the pioneers of the revolution. It is time for us to realise this and feel the responsibility as the ones leading the struggle for an alternative existence. This is our reality; this is our identity; this is who we are. Through adopting the courage of Şehîd Beritan, sharing the same level of devotion as Şehîd Zilan, and being as militant as Şehîd Sara, we will understand our role and what it means to truly be ourselves.

Believing in yourself and fulfilling your desire to be free

So what is stopping us from walking the path of Şehîd Beritan, Şehîd Zilan, and Şehîd Sara? What is our difference? Did they have more opportunities than us? It is actually the opposite. The problem lies in the fact that we have a lot more than they did, and so we are driven further away from our own revolutionary reality. The system makes it so that we are tricked into thinking that we can complete our revolutionary duty on digital media. This is not to say that digital media is not important or that digital media has no impact at all. But the revolution will not happen on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok. Digital media is only used effectively when it is understood as an additional tool that we use to spread information about the revolution, yet nowadays, as youth, we use it as the primary and fundamental platform.

Every young woman’s desire is to be free; to walk freely in her homeland; to feel the wind in her hair as she walks side by side with her comrades; What is stopping us from fulfilling this desire? Why do we constantly occupy ourselves with meaningless thoughts, diverting our attention and preventing ourselves from fulfilling our desires? As young women, we are constantly told, and even if we are not told, we are conditioned to think that we have limited capabilities, that we are weak and do not have enough power to act autonomously. This whole system functions by undermining the power of women. It is a patriarchal system, as we all know, and therefore, there is no place within this system to recognise the power of women. How can I possibly have any confidence if I am constantly being told or it is constantly implied to me that I am not worth much? What we need to realise is that we need to stop relying on the system to give us confidence. Rêber APO believes in our power as young women. We inherited this revolution from the ideology of Rêber APO. Rêber APO has confidence in us; now it is time for us to have confidence in ourselves and join the struggle against betrayal and occupation!

Sara Tolhildan

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