The feminist slogan that emerged from the Kurdish movement has shaped several decades of political thought among Kurds, and has been spreading globally after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jîna Mahsa Amini in Iranian morality police custody sparked nationwide protests.
Jin, Jîyan, Azadî – Woman, Life, Freedom stresses the women’s liberationist character of the movement and is among the most important outputs of Kurdish political thought, crystallised in Jineology, or women’s science, as the Kurds call it.
Following are excerpts from Abdullah Öcalan’s writings over the decades, as the concept took shape and gathered strength to be able to influence a growing global movement today.
Further information on Öcalan can be found at the Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan campaign. Books by Öcalan has translations available in several languages for much of the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founder’s earlier work, while Jineology Academy offers extensive reading on the feminist school of thought.
WOMAN IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF LIFE
I always say that woman is an integral part of life. But she must become a deliberate and determined agent in life, and not just an object that is part of it. In this sense, solutions we develop are not only for you. All of society is in dire need of liberation. You are the pioneers of liberation in this sphere. The tasks are extremely demanding and you must give them your utmost attention to accomplish. (April 1989)
WE CALL IT JÎYAN
We call it “Jîyan”, life. You have transformed it into “Mirin”- “Ketin”, death, descent. This must change. You should take the lead, should you not? That men would admire you. You have strong enough relations to triumph in several wars, you must be strong enough to guide this path. (June 1994)
IT IS NOT GOOD TO BE A TRADITIONAL WOMAN
Many of you often say things like, “We are just beginning to get to know life, only now understanding the matter of emotions”. But were not you the sentimental ones? So much so that you assumed “Jin” and “Jîyan” as your names? Were you not representatives of life? Why are you only now getting to know certain higher emotions? Is it not too late? Is it not following life from behind? How far could politicisation go for a person whose emotions are so backward and convoluted? How sound would their praxis be? In the traditional sense, it is not a good thing to be womanly. (February 1995)
LIFE IS SYNONYMOUS WITH WOMAN FOR US
We must say that we owe this great hope to our valiant martyrs. Again, for us, life is synonymous with woman. Four Kurdistani girls set themselves on fire. Zekiye, Rahşan, Bêrîvan, Ronahî, they are the greatest testament to transforming “jin” into “jîyan”. Woman finds her place in this war as a strong aspect of life, more than ever before. It is not possible to understand life and give it its due without saluting these women, our valiant martyrs of Newroz, these strong deliberate lives. (March 1996)
WOMEN AND LIFE BECOMING ANTONYMS
In our people’s history, woman and life come from the same word. But coming towards the present, the two have become the strongest antonyms. We are bridging that divide again. We are now bringing “jin û jîyan” together. This is a beautiful development. As such, I celebrate this development today with all women, and wish continued success. (February 1998)
IF LIFE IS TO EXIST, IT CAN MANIFEST VIA WOMAN’S LUNGE FOR FREEDOM
In our reality, the words for woman and life are the same. In our national reality, our reality of “jin û jîyan” go together. But as you can see, if there are two words that are most disconnected from each other in the present day, it is this pair of words. Unfortunately, centuries of invasions and occupations combined with societal decline have rendered women forgotten, and life turned into hell. The most glorious character of women at the beginning of history, this culture that made an art out of society, production, domestication and manifested themselves as the first goddesses, has become an absolute menace today. This must be known before all. If there is to be life, it will exist with women, and can only manifest via women’s lunge for freedom. I do not say this as an ordinary sentence. In any contrasting circumstance there will be no life. In the contrary way, one cannot remain human. (March 1998)
WE WANT WOMAN TO FIND LIFE
“Jin û jîyan” already mean the same thing. Life in Kurdistan, the concept of “jin û jîyan”, is similar. Jin means life, but in your hands now it appears dead. We now want woman to find life. (August 1998)
WOMAN IS THE FIRST OWNER OF LIFE IN KURDISTAN
In Kurdistan, woman is the first owner of life. Why would we not give meaning to her anew? Why would she not have ownership? What prevents that is centuries of a housewifeised society, or more precisely, man. Why would we not tear these down? (July 1998)
I CONSIDER IT IMMORAL TO ASSIGN FORM TO WOMEN
We should be women’s liberationists. I consider it immoral to assign form to women. Woman needs her “xweda” (creator/god). Her xweda is giving birth to her self. Free woman rises like the sun. The concepts of “jin, jîyan” are quite meaningful. Women must be powerful, free, and they must have agency. They are greatly devoted to me. They should not be. Women cannot be 100 percent connected to me. Woman is a being with value. That is why “jin, jîyan” are valuable. (March 2013)
TEACH AND REPRESENT THE MAGIC FORMULA OF JIN, JÎYAN, AZADÎ
The conditions and quality of the life we have been experiencing is the strongest blow to the boundless female slavery and ugliness. It is also a real source of pride for me. What is important is how you as individuals and as an organisation will embody the essence of this way of life. In my opinion, conditions where the non-interference of men is guaranteed to the maximum and your formation are the secret to it. You give the best response to men under such conditions. Some speak of women’s needs and loves. But you are well aware that these people do not have the courage or the consciousness and beauty required for love for a true woman. What they call needs and love does not go beyond primitive instinct. However, in this framework love cannot manifest, it will only get killed. All books of gods since Adam are full of stories of killings by such a love. You must nonetheless continue to teach and represent the magic formula of “Jin, Jîyan, Azadî”. (June 2013)
LIFE AS MADE CONCRETE IN JIN Û JÎYAN IS LOST
This fascinating life was born here; it was made concrete in Kurdistan in the form of “Jin û Jîyan”. Over millennia, this life defined as “jin û jîyan” was lost in the same place, under hierarchies and state authorities.
The decay of life in Kurdish society can be best observed around the phenomenon of woman. In a societal culture that realistically combines the words life and woman, all of jin (woman), jîyan (life), can (spirit), şen (joy), cihan (universe) come from the same root, and express the truth of life and woman. The depletion of life in woman is the most fundamental sign of the depletion of society. What remains from a culture that led the path to a cult of the goddess and laid the foundations for civilisation around woman is a vast blindness on woman and life, and a lowly surrender to instinct.
We always say that conditions in which “jin û jîyan” cease to mean woman and life reflects the decay and dissolution of society. Without analysing this reality and giving all to the cause of freedom, it would be inconceivable for a revolution, revolutionary party, a vanguard or militant elements to play any role. (Manifesto for a Democratic Civilisation)