Kobani: The Legend

Dr. Rashid Karadaghi:

YPJ fighters

YPJ fighters

Not many people outside Rojava (Syrian-occupied Kurdistan), except for Kurds, had heard of Kobani two months ago. Today, anyone who can see, read, or hear knows something about Kobani — and what they know honors the women and men of the legendary city, the heroic defenders of freedom on behalf of us all. Kobani makes every Kurd proud of being a Kurd. It makes all freedom-loving people proud. In a little over seven weeks Kobani has become a myth and its heroic resistance fighters — young girls, women, and men — have become heroes to us all. Like other cities that have fought bravely against invaders in the past, Kobani is etched in our hearts and our memory forever.

I must admit that I have been moved to tears many times these past few weeks, tears of both sorrow and pride — sorrow for the precious young lives lost in defending Kobani against a horde of barbarians devoid of every value we hold dear in life, and pride in what the valiant Kobani women and men resistance fighters have been able to do to prevent the fall of the city to terror. Language despairs of doing justice to the bravery, the nobility, and humanity of the resistance fighters of Rojawa as well as the Peshmergas in South Kurdistan (some now also in Kobani) for resisting terror and putting their people and their homeland ahead of themselves. Language also despairs of capturing the brutality, the cruelty, and inhumanity of the enemy they are fighting, this barbaric group known as ISIL / ISIS.

The story of the people defending Kobani and other parts of Kurdistan against terror is the story of those who are fighting for something bigger than themselves. “We are tied to our land and our principles more than our lives. … We are looking after our nation,” says a female commander of the Kurdish resistance to Richard Engel of NBC News. While the rest of us worry about our little lives and never-ending worries, they worry about the survival of their people, the Kurdish people, against this onslaught of evil descending upon them for no fault of their own. In doing this, all of them face death every minute of every day and night and many of them don’t make it to see the joy of victory, which is certain to come, over this army of killers. For this, we owe them a debt we can never pay back to them or their loved ones. And let us always remember that they do this voluntarily because of their love of their people and their homeland.

The people of Kobani did not attack anyone; they were attacked. Their story is the story of the Kurds – past and present. This much-wronged people have never been the aggressor at any time in their history. They have not wanted to dominate others; others have wanted to dominate them, mostly because of the richness of their land. The wars they have fought have always been defensive ones against aggressors just as the one they are fighting today. No one can dispute this fact no matter how far they go back in history.

Kurdish women get a lot of the credit for defending Kobani. It is well-known that about one-third of the resistance fighters in Kobani and the rest of Rojava are young women, something unheard of in the history of warfare. Their determination and bravery make us all proud. “We will liberate the town house by house. We are determined to crush terrorism and extremism,” says Narin Afrin, Kobani’s Kurdish female commander. “We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by ISIS,” said Nineteen-year-old Ceylan Ozlap, who spent her last bullet taking her own life in preference to falling in the hands of the barbarians and being defiled by them. Arin Mirkan, another resistance fighter, a mother of two, blew herself up using a grenade killing many terrorists, to avoid capture by ISIS.

The sacrifices of these brave young women and their male comrades must not have been for nothing. The human and national rights of the Kurdish people everywhere in their occupied homeland must be recognized. The recognition by the US and the international Coalition of the Kurds in Rojava as an ally against ISIL / ISIS must be followed by US recognition of them as a people with national rights and aspirations. A delisting of all Kurdish resistance organizations throughout Kurdistan from the terrorist list by the US and EU is overdue; they should never have been on such a list to begin with because they are not terrorists but fighting terrorism; they are patriotic groups fighting for the Kurdish people’s basic rights. The people of Kobani and the rest of Rojava must not be abandoned once their usefulness to the mission runs out. They deserve US and international support in achieving their freedom.

Whether Kobani makes it or not (I hope it does), whether it remains free or falls into evil’s hands matters little now, for Kobani and its defenders have entered history and will be honored forever. Kobani put Rojava (and Greater Kurdistan) on the map. It put the Kurdish struggle for freedom from oppression and domination by the occupiers of Kurdistan in the consciousness of the world. It obliterated the artificial and imposed-by-force borders between the four parts of occupied Kurdistan, borders that were designed to divide the Kurds and keep them under occupation. Never before has there been such co-operation and co-ordination among the resistance forces of all parts of Kurdistan.

The Kurds in Syria will never again accept oppression and occupation by any Syrian regime — they never had.  They want to rule themselves by themselves democratically. Kobani makes us all proud. It has shown us all that the human spirit is impossible to crush when fighting for a just cause, regardless of the superior power of the enemy. In the words of Narin Afrin, the female commander of the Kurdish resistant fighters defending the besieged city, “Kobani has a bigger message than defeating ISIS; it is a human being’s belief in himself and his will power.”

Dr Rashid Karadaghi is the author of The Azadi English-Kurdish Dictionary, the most comprehensive English-Kurdish dictionary ever published. A retired teacher and translator living in the USA, he writes many articles on the Kurdish issue.

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