UNDERGROUND WEB WORLD
A TRIBUTE TO THE BRAVE KURDISH WOMEN
SENDING ISIS STRAIGHT TO HELL
At Underground Web World we celebrate the power of strong women who set positive role models. Today in Iraq and Syria we see such women. Kurdish women have joined men on the battlefield. They didn't sit around waiting to be rescued by some supposed males saviors. Indeed, they have proven themselves to be among the toughest and strongest fighters in a grim war against the religious lunatics of ISIS. Around a third of the Syrian Kurdish force is made up of women. On the front lines, they fight alongside the men, taking the same risks and facing the same dangers.
The Kurds in Iraq and Syria have done the unthinkable. With the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world (ISIS) at their doorstep, they have managed to protect their territory with very little outside help. Neighboring Turkey has refused to intervene, either with its own military or with direct assistance to Kurdish fighters. Washington has sent air strikes, but they absolutely refuse to put troops on the ground. Turkey and the U.S. have been resistant to help because of political complications. The Kurds have been demanding their own homeland for decades. The U.S. has even branded the (PKK) "Kurdistan Worker's Party," a terrorist group in the past. If the U.S. gave the PKK weapons and assistance from ground troops, they could risk alienating Turkey.
Yet the Kurds have been the tip of the spear in the fight against ISIS, and now they have even begun to carve out their own homeland between Syria and Iraq.
So what the Kurds have been able to accomplish independently as a force that is outnumbered and outgunned is truly remarkable.
The Kurdish women in the YPJ, or "Women’s Protection Unit", are an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish nationalist movement that has long fought a war of independence against Turkey. The YPJ is an all volunteer women's vigilante military unit that was formed in 2011 by the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, A Kurdish province in Syria. About 8,000 women from all over Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and elsewhere have volunteered to join the YPJ, and their numbers continue to grow.
These women know that if they don't join the fight, they could lose their land, lives, children and most fundamental rights.
Photographer Erin Trieb has expressed her amazement at how these women can do so much with what little they have. They are given no international aid, most of their supplies are donated from the local community, they eat very modest meals of bread, watermelon, canned tuna and tea (the photographer reports losing weight in her time with them because there was so little food), and they sleep outside in bombed out buildings next to their rifles. "They are incredibly resourceful, and they share everything," says Erin Trieb (PRI, 6-16-15).
When interviewed, one teenage Kurdish fighter named Diren says, "Women are the bravest fighters...We're not scared of anything...We'll fight to the last. We'd rather blow ourselves up than be captured by IS (BBC, 9-5-14)."
To the followers of ISIS, a female fighter is "haram," or anathema: a disturbing and scary sight. "When they see a woman with a gun, they're so afraid they begin to shake," says Diren. "They portray themselves as tough guys to the world. But when they see us with our guns they run away. They see a woman as just a small thing. But one of our women is worth a hundred of their men."
Why are the ISIS fighters so scared of these women warriors? There is an ISIS belief that a man shot by a woman will not be permitted by God to enter the gates of Heaven. Therefore, many women have jumped at the chance to send these scum bags straight to hell.
But it’s not just the battle against ISIS that brings these young women to a spare military camp in Syria, a half hour away from the front lines. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, is unusual in the region in that he has long promoted gender equality. The desire to break free from the macho Middle East was so strong that rural girls volunteered to join the YPJ, where they developed into soldiers ready to put their lives on the line. “In the past, women had various roles in the society, but all those roles were taken from them,” says 18-year-old Saria Zilan, another fighter. “We are here now to take back the role of women in society” (TIME, 4-2-15).
In Syrian Kurdish culture, women are not allowed to date, play sports outside, or have a one on one coffee meeting with a male friend. Yet these ideas are being radically transformed as brave Kurdish women put their lives on the line, winning the respect of the Kurdish community along with the world.
MUSIC STAR HELLY LUV PUTS KURDISH STRUGGLE IN THE SPOTLIGHT
WITH MUSIC VIDEO RECORDED ON THE FRONT LINES OF BATTLE
One Kurdish music star, "Helly Luv," has used her talents to bring attention to the Kurds and their battle. She is a singer, dancer, choreographer, actress and model. Her career began when she started uploading her own videos to Myspace and YouTube.
She was born during the Gulf War in Iran, 1988. Helly and her family escaped death by fleeing to Turkey for safety, which left them homeless. Eventually they relocated to Finland. As a child growing up in Finland, Helly took an interest in choir, piano and drama classes. This is how she got her start in performing and demonstrating her singing and dancing abilities.
In 2014 she created the Helly Luv non-profit organization to help the women and animals in need in Kurdistan. On July 6, 2014, Helly Luv visited the Peshmerga headquarters in the city of Duhok, Iraq near the border of Mosul, Iraq during the defense against ISIS; with a mission to deliver food and water to the Peshmerga troops.
She has recently collaborated with the Kurds on the actual front lines of battle (3 km away from ISIS), to make a music video called "Revolution." Real tanks, real weapons and real fighters are all included. In the video she calls on people to help build peace by fighting ISIS. Establishing peace through the instrument of war may sound like a contradiction, but as Helly Luv says in an interview with Channel 4 News, "you can't hand these people [ISIS] flowers."
When asked about the Kurdish women, Helly Luv says "ISIS should be afraid of these women."
(Music Star Helly Luv with Kurdish Fighters on the front lines of battle)
KURDISH MUSIC STAR TAKES ON ISIS
WOMEN FIGHT ISIS
Photographer lives with and interviews YPJ women (PRI, 4-28-15)
Meet the Women Taking the Battle to ISIS (TIME, 4-2-15)
The Kurdish women fighting ISIS (CNN, 3-12-15)
The One Female Fighter Who Has Sent 100 ISIS Jihadis to Hell (Political Insider, 10-13-14)
The Kurdish female fighters bringing the fight to IS (BBC, 9-5-14)
MORE ABOUT THE KURDS
Kurdish forces besiege Isis fighters in Kobani after massacre of civilians (The Guardian, 6-26-15)
The Peshmerga, the West's Best Defense Against the Islamic State (Huffington Post, 6-9-15)
Why Turkey Won't Help The Kurds Under ISIS Siege Right Next To Them (Business Insider, 10-9-14)
Profile: Who are the Peshmerga? (BBC, 8-12-14)