Workshop on ‘Women and Defense’ in Shengal marks the anniversary of liberation from ISIS

The Free Yazidi Women’s Movement (TAJÊ) was holding a workshop titled ‘Women and Defense’ in Shengal on the anniversary of the city's liberation from ISIS.

The Yazidi settlement area Shengal (Sinjar) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is the last contiguous settlement area of the Yazidi community. Thousands of Yazidis were murdered and thousands of women and children were taken prisoner in the 3 August 2014 onslaught on Shengal by ISIS militants. While ISIS gangs began murdering Yazidis in Shengal, the Peshmerga left, leaving the Yazidis behind, unprotected. The guerrillas of HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) and fighters of the YPG (People’s Defense Units) and YPJ (Women’s Defense Units) came to the Yazidi people’s aid in the face of ISIS aggression. Thanks to a months-long selfless struggle, the city was liberated on 13 November 2015. After the liberation of the city, the HPG and YPG/YPJ subsequently withdrew in 2017. People who returned to their land after Shengal’s independence reformed, established defensive units and built their institutions.

The Free Yazidi Women’s Movement (TAJÊ) was holding a workshop titled ‘Women and Defense’ in Shengal on the anniversary of Shengal’s liberation from ISIS. The workshop kicked off at Shengal People’s Assembly this morning with the participation of 150 women.

Making the opening speech of the workshop, TAJÊ Spokesperson Riham Hico said the following: “We congratulate Leader Apo (Abdullah Öcalan), the martyrs, the YBŞ/YJŞ (Shengal Resistance Units/Shengal Women’s Units) on the anniversary of Shengal’s liberation. We were exposed to a massive massacre in Shengal due to the betrayal of the KDP and Iraqi forces. Why was Shengal not defended? Because the defense forces did not belong to Shengal itself. It was the guerrillas and fighters who contributed to the liberation of Shengal and the prevention of a genocide. There is the blood of martyrs under every single rock in Shengal. The KDP claims to have yielded martyrs in Shengal. Yet, we know who liberated Shengal. The collaborators of ISIS conspired with ISIS and sought to drive the Yazidis out of Shengal. We liberated Shengal with our own blood and we will defend it with our blood. We will make our decision about our destiny. We, women, will become soldiers when necessary and defend Shengal. We will not allow anyone to make decisions about us. All the forces here today belong to us. Those who fled from Shengal on 3 August are not our legitimate defense forces. (…) It is thanks to Leader Öcalan’s ideas that we, Arab and Yazidi women, have gathered here today. We will not give up our struggle to build an autonomous and free Shengal.”

The opening speech was followed by a screening about Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s perspective on women and defense.

The workshop continued with three seminars in the afternoon, where YJŞ Commander Hêza Şengalî, TAJÊ Diplomacy Committee Member Ferîde Şengalî and Fatîma Mustafa from the Arab community of Shengal addressed the participants.

YJŞ Commander: We will enhance our organization and defend ourselves

YJŞ Commander Hêza Şengalî took the stage at the first seminar and spoke about the self-defense of women. Remarking that a defenseless society would be condemned to remain ignorant of everything, Şengalî stated: “Our society was freed from darkness upon the call of Leader Öcalan. Martyr Gülçin from East Kurdistan, a mother of two, sacrificed herself for us. Comrades. Arîn, Bêrîvan, Rosyar and Nûjiyan guided the Yazidi women. The suffering we have been through must turn into power and wisdom in 2014. We must embrace the dreams of the martyrs. We reiterate our promise to rescue the Yazidi women who are still in ISIS captivity, and to take revenge. The YJŞ has fought not only against ISIS, but also against the KDP and the Turkish state. Some circles question our legitimacy. And we ask them; are those forces who fled from Shengal in 2014 legitimate? We will increase our strength and respond to all attacks. We will respond to those who attack our belief by defending ourselves and enhancing our organization. We will frustrate the vicious plans against Shengal.”

Fatîma Mustafa: Defense is not a man’s thing

Speaking in Arabic, Fatîma Mustafa from the Arab community of Shengal stated that the KDP sought to deceive the Yazidi society, but Yazidi and Arab women stood united against it. Fatîma Mustafa said that defense was not a man’s thing and that nobody would be able to defeat the YJŞ.

Ferîde Şengalî: Those engaged in betrayal will not be forgotten

TAJÊ Diplomacy Committee Member Ferîde Şengalî said: “Neither those who betrayed us, nor those who brought light to us will be forgotten. We have the YJŞ and the Asayish (local security force) but everyone must defend themselves and prevent further massacres. Only those who remained in Shengal and defended the Yazidis can speak in their name. We should not let anyone feed on the blood of our martyrs.”

Cîhan Celo: Women have power and will

Making the closing speech, Cîhan Celo, Co-Chair of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Shengal, stated that the workshop was marked by messages of struggle, self-defense and stand against the enemy. “We, women, have power and will. They will not be able to make plans against us anymore. We must protect ourselves and fight against the attacks of the enemy and the attacks of men. Yazidi women have resisted throughout history. Today, we have united around the idea of a democratic nation. We will resist together against isolation, repression and schemes. We owe Leader Öcalan. We are here today thanks to his ideas. We dedicate our workshop to Leader Öcalan, to our martyrs, to all our people and to women.”

The workshop concluded with the slogans ‘Jin jiyan Azadî’ [Woman, Life, Freedom] and ‘Bijî Rêber Apo’ [Long Live Leader Öcalan].

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