Kurdish women's symbol of awakening and resistance: Zilan

Zeynep Kınacı (nom de guerre: Zilan), who wanted to be “Kurdish women’s symbol of awakening” and made her mark on the Kurdish struggle for freedom, has kept leading the Kurdish resistance for 27 years.

News Center- “We don't want to die and kill but there is no other way to gain freedom,” said Zeynep Kınacı (nom de guerre: Zilan). 27 years have passed since she carried out a suicide attack in Dersim on June 30, 1996. Zilan, who wanted to be “Kurdish women’s symbol of awakening”, keeps being a light to the struggle of Kurdish women from Rojava to Rojhilat today.

She had sympathy for the Kurdish struggle for freedom

Zilan was born in the Elmalı village of Malatya in 1972 as the youngest of seven siblings to a family of the Mamureki tribe. After graduating from the Haydarpaşa Medical Vocational High School, she began to work as an x-ray technician at the Şanlıurfa Birecik State Hospital. In 1990, she began to study psychology at the Inönü University in Malatya. While studying at university, she also worked as an x-ray technician at the Malatya State Hospital. While she was studying at the high school, her interest in the left and Kurdish movement was aroused. During her university education, she had sympathy for the PKK.

She continued her activities in Adana

Zilan, who married her university friend, joined the Kurdish struggle for freedom with her spouse. In 1995, she carried out activities of the struggle for freedom in Adana. In 1995, she went to Dersim. When she was in Dersim, she recognized her own personality in all aspects.

 ‘I want to be Kurdish women’s symbol of awakening’

Before Zilen carried out a suicide attack in Dersim, she wrote a letter saying, “I see myself as a candidate for a voluntary death.” Her letter is as follows:

“I consider this action as a duty. I am convinced that to overcome my weaknesses and the realization of my freedom, this action has to be carried out. I want to follow in the footsteps of our comrades, Mazlum, Kemal, Hayri, Ferhat, Bese, Beritan, Berivan and Ronahi. I want to be part of the total expression of the liberation struggle of our people. By exploding a bomb against my body I want to protest against the policies of imperialism which enslaves women and express my rage and become a symbol of resistance of Kurdish women. Under the leadership of Apo, the national liberation struggle and the Kurdish people will at last take its richly deserved place in the family of humanity. My will to live is very strong. My desire is to have a fulfilled life through strong action. The reason for my actions is my love for human beings and for life.”

 Noting that the arming of women and women's conferences and congresses have been organized by the PKK, Zilan also wrote about the situation of the Kurdish women in her letter.

“The often adduced reasons for retarding our personal development, such as the influence of the bourgeois and feudal ideas, the special war, and hostile influences, which usually form the starting point for sterile self-criticism are facile and inadequate. I believe that the most effective self-criticism is the practical realisation of our historical tasks. The enemy wages a total war against us. Our answer must be total resistance in the struggle for our freedom. Resistance has become the characteristic basic principle of the PKK. We have to lay claim to this historic heritage and act according to the demands of this period... This makes actions like voluntary death an inevitable necessity. Under certain conditions, it is a tactic, which will affect the enemy as much as boost the morale of our own people... At a time when the enemy is trying to achieve its aim by assassination attempts on our leader, this is the only response left. Such an action creates a siege situation for the enemy who lacks any moral grounds for their own action and is in a permanent state of confusion and crisis. It will show to friend and foe alike our total determination and preparedness to achieve our freedom, even at the price of our lives....”

‘We don't want to die and kill but there is no other way to gain freedom’

Calling on the whole world and humanity in her letter, Zilan wrote, “Hear us now! Open your eyes; we are the children of a nation whose homeland has been taken from them and scattered all over the world like refugees. We now want to have the opportunity to live freely and to live humanely in our homeland. Blood, tears and cruelty should no longer be the fate of my people. We don’t want to die and kill but there is no other way for us to gain our freedom.”

She carried out the suicide attack in Dersim

On June 30, 1996, Zilan blew herself up during a flag raising ceremony of the Turkish army in the center of the Dersim province.

Songs are composed for her

Her action was heard in Turkey and Kurdistan. Songs are still composed for her and many girls have been named after her. Since 2004, a festival named, “IZilan Women's Festival” has been held in Germany and London.