Chapter (9) Nine
“My government name is not relevant to you Hevalin, as they say.” Havalin is the plural of Hevals, multiple friends.
Says Heval Errdal, a cheeky British Jew of left wing leanings with many Kurdish friends. He sits with his old friend Ana Montgomery Campbell from Lewes, U.K. who later died a Martyr in the defense of Afrin Canton. The British pipeline begins in Birmingham. Actually hundreds of ISIS Islamists had been recruited from Birmingham. Literally many hundreds.
“You may call me by my Kurdish guerrilla name is Heval Erdal. I’m lanky and have a highly disarming grin, so say the ladies. I’m just having a kid, which is to say a laugh; the ladies don’t say nothing like that. I’m British clearly, but also part a cheeky Jew. It’s not a very well thought out part to be honest. Don’t practice any of it. I became active in the Kurdish movement protesting Turkish arms deals and attending cultural events at the centers. My working class British city had literally hundreds of Jihadists who took off for the Middle East and joined Daesh. Fuck all mate, hundreds! They took wee kids and wives with them. They thought it was the end of times. Well it had end of times properties, I’ll give it that.”
So I was always a ‘wee activist’ with politics of the progressive kind, but I love them Kurds man! They’re so awesome. Humble, principled mountain people. Leftists. Warriors. Love um! Sometime in August of 2016 I made up my mind to travel to Kurdistan and join up with the People’s Protection Units; the famous and glorious Y.P.G..
So I worked a bit more than usual. I saved up about 2,000 quid and there I had a chance to ask the right questions about who to contact, literally just an email address called YPG REVOLUTION, and I answered a bunch of questions for them. Then I was approved to go. It didn’t take nearly as long as lots of chaps complained. Britain has the second largest contribution of foreign fighters to Y.P.G./Y.P.J. right after Turkish leftists.
But life happens, you have a girlfriend you can’t bring, and you have an apartment you can’t just leave. You also have a bit of fear in you. No one wants to die! Unless you’re one of these Jihadist tossers. You make various excuses. Well not me, I don’t worry about dying. I had a pretty boring apartment. My job was bullocks. We all have bollocksy jobs so it made it easier to leave mine and go, knowing how much I hated my current situation in what Kurds call Capitalist Modernity. Also, there were brave Hevals who went in earlier, when things were more desperate and asymmetrical.
I had become friendly with Heval Helen Qerechow, whose British name was Ana Campbell via the various protests and Kurdish events. She was far more ideological than I was. She was what we called later a ‘true believer’ a committed revolutionary. Me, I just wanted to kill Daesh, and also the Turkish fascists. I wasn’t stupid to the politics mind you, but I was more of the fighterly mind set. I had set myself on a warpath. I grew up working class and I would die working class and revolution would never come home to the U.K., but if I could contribute well to the Y.P.G. and aid the Kurdish resistance then I would feel like I was a man of my word. All these years yelling about arms deals and Turkish coups all didn’t ever do much, but it was how you made friends with Hevals and aspiring Hevals. Heval in Kurdish means comrade/friend. It’s what movement people call each other affectionately and ideologically.
Actually they had met just one weekend before her self deployment to Syria. I went out with Ana and we talked a little bit about what we were risking and why were risking it. She went in about five months before me. This was maybe on the eve of.
“I’m all in the game mate, I’m just all about it. As an anarchist and as a human, this is the real deal as I see it,” Ana declared.
“I mean eye to eye sis, I agree,” I tells her.
“I mean as a woman and as an activist this seems so big, so important, how could we ever just go on and ignore this and act like we have and validity to our own fight?”
Ana always talked in big questions, rhetorical like ones for circular thinking.
“I mean are you scared?” she asks me, “I’m not scared at all.”
“No, not scared to die. Maybe scared to be tortured or maimed, but all part of a revolution I guess,” I reply.
“You have to be brave. Everyone is watching us. The Kurds and the vultures, you know they want to make up stories about why we went out there, going out there to die in a foreign war, a Kurdish war! It’s our war, it’s a last stand for idealism.”
“It’s pathetic so few leftists are going, have gone,” I say.
“No, it’s up to us to be an example of trust worthy European leftists and what we can contribute. Everything has to be about possibility not fear!”
“You’re a shining star,” I tell her.
“Serok Apo says that Womens’ leadership is what saved the P.K.K. in Qandil, and has saved the Rojava revolution.”
“Well surely it has,” I just agree with her now because I’m not ever one to argue with her on either Feminism or what Serok Apo said. She’s very ideological and I am not, so it’s easy to avoid contentious bickering.
“I’m so happy we’re both finally going,” she says.
“Yeah, good times,” I reply.
“We probably won’t see each other that often. The Y.P.J. has its own separate structures. How do you feel about that? I think I prefer the old way when we were all together.”
“I think I read they need to be able to tell the conservative Kurdish village fathers their daughters aren’t getting banged out in the P.K.K., and also because Kurdish Women’s Movement wants their own self-governing spaces.”
“Yeah both probably. But anyway we will meet up for tea and have long fireside talks about ideology like you love so much,” she smiles.
So I was scheduled to begin the Academy in Qerechow in August of 2017. I had booked a direct flight to Erbil from Heathrow. Ana was in the class before me for the Y.P.J.; Women’s Protection Units, the co-gendered womens structure.
We had both been arrested several times scuffling with the Turkish security service at this demo or that. Never did any hard time either of us. Well why should we have? We were fighting for Kurdish Freedom, for peoples’ freedom; against fascists and Islamic terrorists, the kind that lived in Birmingham and migrated to Syria with their families for the war.
Now my motives were pure, but they were not purely ideological. Apo didn’t make me do it! I just felt that Daesh was a heinous evil. I felt the Turks to be true aggressors. And I wanted to avenge the fact that so many people from my city had headed over to the enemy. An enemy which throws homos off roof tops. Kidnaps and sex enslaves young women. Commits genocide! And until the Operation Inherent Resolve I.S.I.S. was gradually taking over the entire Middle East into their “Caliphate”.
So I packed my bag and joined the volunteers. About five months after Anya went down to Rojava to join the Y.P.J. The proud, inglorious 500 or so who ended up with the Y.P.G. and its various affiliated structures. The embarrassingly low turnout compared to the well over 40,000 Jihadists who turned out to join I.S.I.S. is a matter of leftist defeat, human cowardice, ineptitude of Kurdish propaganda, and the psychological barriers of joining a violent shit show that no one is clearly going to win.