Peace in Kurdistan Campaign solidarity statement for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013

7 March 2013


On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, Peace in Kurdistan campaign stands alongside all Kurdish women, across Kurdistan and in the diaspora, who are engaged with the struggle for Kurdish liberation and democratic rights. Peace in Kurdistan campaign also wishes to express solidarity with the millions of women fighting for social justice, women’s rights and freedom from state violence who are so often at the forefront of global liberation movements.

At this critical historical juncture in the Kurdish-Turkish conflict and with peace talks ostensibly ongoing between the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish government, the struggle of the Kurdish people for their genuine liberation remains as urgent as ever. In the face of systematic violence and oppression, Kurdish women’s voices are among the loudest and most fearless of the movement.

Sakine Cansiz, brutally murdered in Paris on 9 January this year, was one such woman. As a founder member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), she was a leader in the Kurdish women’s movement’s dual fight, against patriarchy and against the Turkish state’s repression of Kurdish language, culture, and political rights.

This week thousands of women from across North Kurdistan gathered to demonstrate against Sakine’s assassination and that of Fidan Digan and Leyla Soylemez, both of whom were also active in the Kurdish Women’s movement in Europe before they were callously slain. When Gultan Kisanak, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) addressed the crowd at the largest rally in Amed (Diyarbakir), she represented a long line of Kurdish women politicians who have forced the issue of Kurdish rights onto the political agenda in Turkey.

She follows in the footsteps of Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish National Assembly and who famously spoke in Kurdish when giving her parliamentary oath. She was subsequently arrested and subjected to ten years in prison. The message has always been clear – with the vote or with the bullet, in the National Assembly or in the mountains, Kurdish women calling for justice will be accused of terrorism and treated as terrorists.

In Abdullah Ocalan’s view, sexism is an instrument of power that has been utilised throughout history to reinforce and exploit social hierarchies. He reminds us that the freedom of the Kurdish people rests on the freedom of women from patriarchal domination. Putting this ideology into practice, women have played a central role in every area of the liberation movement. (See greeting message from Ocalan, 3 March 2013)

We know that confronting both state and gender violence takes great courage, and the Kurdish women’s movement has shown nothing less. Our sisters in the movement continue to inspire our efforts for peace, justice and self-determination for the Kurdish people, and we gladly honour them today.


For information contact:

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie  Sirinathsingh – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596

 Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Conor Murphy MP, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas