This week is the “Week of heroism”, when we commemorate those we’ve lost in struggle.
“Martyrs do not die!” is the cry raised at memorials across the Kurdistan Freedom Movement. But Şehîd Culture (Şehîd, sheh-heed = martyr) is more than just a ritual. It’s a way of life. At first its hard to understand: is it about an afterlife? Glorifying death? How can people be so affected by deaths of those they didn’t know?
While many people across the movement have a faith, şehîd culture itself is something earthly, something based in the lives we live. When we say our friends do not die, its a promise. We will keep their memories alive; fight for what they fought for; do what they would have done; tell stories; tell their jokes. We will keep tracing the lines they drew.
You become şehîd if you gave your life to the fight, to beauty, to life itself. It’s not about throwing yourself at death. It isn’t even just about how you die, it doesn’t have to be in combat. If you lived a way that means someone picks up your weapon, whether it’s a gun or a pen, and keeps fighting, then you are şehîd. And even if we didn’t know each other, if we are in the same fight then we feel your loss.
It’s impossible to list all the friends we’ve lost and whose footsteps we walk in. We are lifted up by those who came before. But this week KSN will be honouring a few of those who were close to us, or who hold special significance in our context.
We begin with the eight international volunteers from these islands who have fallen while fighting with the YPG/J in Rojava. We recently commemorated anniversaries of some of their deaths. Today we’d like to honour Mehmet Aksoy, Anna Campbell, Carl Evans, Oliver Hall, Jac Holmes, Ryan Lock, Luke Rutter, and Erik Konstandinos Scurfield for what they collectively stand for: internationalism, fighting for what you believe in despite hardships and complications, defence of the future.
Thank you friends. We are shoulder to shoulder with you. We’ll keep you alive.