The PKK or the Kurdistan Workers Party – a Kurdish political and military organization – has held the abominable distinction of being a terrorist group by NATO and EU since the early 2000s, due to its long history of battles against the Turkish government to implement cultural and political rights for the Kurds in Turkey since the 1980s.
But as of late, the group has turned its sight away from doling out attacks against Turkey to destroying a common enemy in Iraq: the extremist Islamic State (IS). As of today, the PKK members have successfully set the stage to be viewed as fighters against terrorism instead of as terrorists themselves, as they’ve gunned down IS members and started to free towns captured by the extremist militia.
Aside from the shift in its reputation, one of the other note-worthy things about the PKK member body is that it’s comprised of both male and female soldiers – lots of female soldiers, who are just as rough and tough as their male counterparts.
One such soldier is 26-year-old Zekia Karhan.
“We are equal with the men” she says, “Every responsibility for a man is the same for a woman. We are treated equally, and that is why we are fighting.”
The women holding the rifles are just as big of a worry for the IS male soldiers as the weapons themselves, as one of their biggest fears is to die at the hands of a woman.
According to Stars and Stripes, “In northern Iraq, it is said that the Islamic State fighters, who are exclusively male, believe that they won’t be admitted to heaven if they are killed by a woman.”
This, along with other hallmark logic patterns of the IS, is what gets the PKK women fired up.
“Everywhere they go they kill and do bad things in the name of Islam,” Karhan said. “They captured a lot of women and they are selling them in Syria for $100. They rape women and behead them in the name of Islam.”
Felice Budak, another 24-year-old female guerrilla PKK member added that the IS soldiers “are very scared of death because they are only here to kill people.” And that fear is what she feeds off, “I don’t mind doing it over and over again. I’ve already fought in Turkey, Iran and Syria.”
As they turn the tide in their favor against the terrorist label from the EU and NATO, the PKK commander in Makhmur, Tekosher Zagros hopes to completely erase this reputation.
“We understand it is because of Turkey,” he said. “Turkey is your friend. But you can see now that we are fighting the terrorists. It is clear now who are the terrorists.”