Remembering Sema Yüce

“I want to become a bridge of fire from the 8th of March to the 21st of March,” wrote Sema Yüce, a revolutionary of the Kurdish Freedom Movement, before she set herself on fire on 21st March 1998 in a Turkish prison cell.

Comrade Sema’s decision was not because of any kind of death wish. Isolated and tortured by the Turkish state, she still never lost hope for a better world. While she was in prison she read and wrote prolifically. She made a decision to take action the most effective way open to her in her situation- she loved life so much she was willing to give her own for it.

The quote above is a reference to the women’s movement, symbolised by the 8th of March, and the freedom of the peoples of the Middle East symbolised in the arrival of spring and many celebrations on the 21st of March, particularly Newroz, Kurdish New Year. Comrade Sema was saying that women’s struggle and the struggle of colonised people for freedom has to unite, and that when they do it will be unstoppable. “Women are the spark of the Kurdish fire,” she wrote.

We wanted to honour Comrade Sema today, so close to Newroz and the 8th of March, as part of the Week of Heroism, and as just one of those who have fallen in the struggle we are inspired by and in solidarity with. But it seems even more important to highlight her words and her life now after what’s been happening here at home. Recent violence of the British State has targeted women, people of colour, ethnic minorities and all marginalised groups. But our resistance has in turn lit up a few fires. When we can bridge the gaps between them and unite our struggles, we will be unstoppable. We thank Sema Yüce and all who’ve gone before us for helping us remember that.

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