By Harem Karem:
Those of us familiar with the way in which the Parti Krekaren Kurdistan (PKK) operates are aware that there are many heroines behind their struggle: as mothers, wives, daughters and sisters providing support from home for the guerrillas stationed in the rebellious mountainous triangle, and also as guerrillas – forty-plus per cent of the PKK – who have dedicated their lives to the cause, fighting for freedom and justice alongside their male counterparts.
For a long time I have wanted to meet some of them in person and listen to their stories. In particular, there is a German medical doctor known as Dr Medya, among many non-Kurds guerrillas whose stories are slightly different to those of the indigenous Kurds. I first heard about Dr Medya and Dr Evenko back in 1997, when Dr Evenko was captured by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and extradited to Turkey, where she was imprisoned for eight years, but now she is free and lives in Germany. Like many other European nationals, both these medical doctors joined the PKK during the early nineties.
While we were walking up the snow-capped Qandil mountain, after conducting an interview with one of the PKK leaders, my friend, Aram, who is an ex-PKK guerrilla, spotted Dr Medya’s vehicle on top of a steep hill. I couldn’t resist but to climb up the hill, hoping to meet her. Aram began trailing until we found Dr Medya and her colleagues in the middle of densely populated trees, sitting beside a water stream and having stir-fried vegetables, steam cooked rice, frozen yogurt and freshly baked bread for lunch.
It was great to finally meet Dr Medya, whose smile, positive attitude and friendly personality is contagious. Dr Medya speaks fluent Kurdish and, over a cup of sweet black tea, we had a brief conversation.
HK: When did you join the PKK and what was your motivation?
Medya: After I graduated from medical school in Germany, I read a lot about the Kurds and became familiar with their struggle. As a human being, I could not just sit there and accept this global injustice towards the Kurds. When I saw the Kurds are subjected to oppression and terrorisation, and their land is invaded, I felt obliged to take part in their struggle. I thought it was the best opportunity for me to help by joining the PKK and I joined in 1993.
I’m not the only German national here, by the way. There are currently up to 200 German nationals helping the PKK in Kurdistan and Europe on many levels and in many different fields. Among us there are also Russians, as well as other Europeans.
HK: You have been living in these mountains for twenty years, how could you manage?
Medya: I love it here; it’s a paradise, look around you! Being part of the PKK and the fight for freedom and justice is making life meaningful. There have been many challenges and, if I didn’t have the determination and genuinely believe what I do is the right thing, I would have given up every time a difficulty has arisen.
HK: Have you ever returned to Germany in the past twenty years?
Medya: No, and I do not want to go back. My family can visit me here. Last time I saw my mother was during our Nawroz celebration a few months ago.
HK: What is it exactly you do within the PKK?
Medya: Well, I’m a General Practitioner and currently in charge of the Gel Medical Centre. Our team of medics help treat the wounded guerrillas and provide healthcare where needed.
HK: Do you have access to appropriate medical equipment? Where do you get it from?
Medya: We have necessary equipment, and I cannot tell you where we get it from. Anyone can help us by providing us with medicine and medical equipment, and indeed healthcare practitioners can help us at any of our medical centres. The PKK is self-sufficient, we completely rely on ourselves.
HK: What do you think of the peace process?
Medya: I’m sad that too much blood has been shed on both sides in this decades-long war. Hopefully the peace process is going to end this conflict. We have done everything on our part aimed at ensuring peace prevails. The ball is now in the Turkish government’s court. The AKP government should start by amending the constitution and granting full human rights to all non-Turks – respecting people’s wishes. I do not envisage the Turkish government wanting peace, hence it is building new military bases and continuing to imprison Kurds, let alone not releasing those already imprisoned. Although we haven’t given the Turkish government an ultimatum, we hope peace prevails and we are not going to be forced to resort to weapons again – but if they do, we shall continue to defend ourselves.