Interview with Sorxwîn Kobane: “ISIS is a danger to humanity itself.”
This is the last part of our series of article on the nature of ISIS, Sorxwîn Kobane of the leadership of the Federation of the Wounded of War in North and East Syria is analyzing the situation of ISIS. She speaks about her own experience when she was combating ISIS as a member of YPJ in the battle of Kobane and is highlighting the security risk that the tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners and families living in camps in North and East Syria are posing. (Read the previous parts here: Part 1 | Part 2)
“My name is Sorxwîn Kobane, I am part of the leadership of the Federation of the Wounded of War in North and East Syria. I would like to analyse the situation of the Islamic State within the Middle East. I, myself was fighting ISIS in the Battle of Kobane, so I was facing ISIS personally. I became a witness of this war which was outside of any of ethical standards and that was part of a bigger war that we define as a World War. I evaluate the war that ISIS was waging as a barbaric war, far away from any ethical principles. They carried out their attacks in the name of Islam, but if we evaluate ISIS within the framework of international law and standards we can see that ISIS’ warfare was one of the most unethical ones. Why do I say this? I say this because ISIS claimed to act according to Islam, but their actions are outside of any Islamic values and standards of humanity. This is firstly because of their barbarism, secondly their looting, thirdly them burning down places they have invaded, fourthly killing innocent civilians and lastly rounding up women on public squares, executing men and abusing women according to their interests. They put prices around women’s necks and sold them for cheap prices on public squares. They didn’t treat women as humans, they completely denied their free will. The people of the world became witnesses of these crimes. Yazidi and Syrian women were sold on public squares in Raqqa. People from around the world came to buy these women. 70 or 50-year-old men were buying girls who were 16, 17 or 18 years old for a cheap price like 100,000 or 150,000 Syrian Pounds. With the price being around their necks, they were degraded and treated like animals. Being treated as human beings was denied to them. They were sold in public squares, denying their value as human beings. This is the mentality of ISIS.
Within Islam, the killing of children is not allowed during war, no one should ever do this. I saw this in Kobane. I am a witness of the killing of small children. Children as young as one, two or three months old or children as young as the ages of 3, 4 or 5 years old who have been killed. I witnessed this. For example in the Massacre of Kobane, they threw corpses of killed children in a swimming pool. The pool was full of water and they threw the bodies of killed children inside. They put a bullet into their heart and one into their heads and threw them in the pool. The pool turned red because of all the blood. This was made in order to attack one’s psychology. In order to reach their aims, ISIS was using children as a tool. I can tell you that they did these things to attack our psychology and willpower. They wanted to make us unable to continue to fight against them. I saw all of this. A child, lets say it was maximum of 4 or 5 months old; they stripped it naked and impaled its head on a stick in front of our unit. This is what I witnessed myself. I remember in the Battle of Kobane that there had been beheadings, I have seen this with my own eyes. They were beheading innocent civilians. I have seen with my own eyes how they strangulated mothers with their own hair. They used the braids of the mothers to strangulate them. I saw how they used the killing of children as a means of psychological warfare against the freedom fighters; against those who were defending the land. They did this to attack our minds because they knew that humans are getting influenced when seeing children like this. There are many videos that the world was watching. Maybe even now they are still existing. They show how they burnt humans alive. This is violating any international law. They treated humans like animals. But even you don’t treat animals like this. Animals are living beings. But they put humans in cages, poured gasoline over them and burnt them alive. They showed this to the world. They uploaded this is on Facebook and spread this through their channels and websites. Why did they do this? To destroy the psychology of the people.
ISIS is not just dangerous for Syria. ISIS is a danger to all the world. It is the greatest danger to the entire world. They say they do this in the name of Islam, but in reality they have nothing to do with Islam. We as the people of Syria, especially we as women, if we would have not turned ourselves into protecting shields in Kobane, if we would not have given sacrifices, if we would not have given martyrs or given our limbs then maybe today in Europe there would be bombings every day. Maybe there would be beheadings every day. ISIS said this openly: “Today we do our prayers in the mosque in Kobane, and afterwards we will sit in Ankara.” What was the aim of ISIS? To conquer all the world. It was not something against the Syrian people or the people of Kobane. It was not just an attack against the people of the Middle East. Europe has also been in danger. Who turned themselves into a protection shield and thwarted this danger? The women and people of the Middle East. Afterwards, the people of the world felt this and joined. Together we stopped this war, together we stopped ISIS. Next to me American volunteers were martyred. I shared a frontline with internationalist volunteers who had come here to fight ISIS. Why did they do this? Because ISIS is a danger to humanity itself, not just for Syria. This is why there was such a big mobilization and people came to fight ISIS. They witnessed their barbarism. The one who was supporting ISIS, was the Turkish state. In front of the world’s eyes, they helped ISIS. This is something that I have seen with my own eyes. For example, wounded ISIS fighters were brought to Turkey. Ammunition coming from Turkey was given to ISIS. Equipment, ammunition, weaponry, grenades was coming in and was given to ISIS on the Turkish-Syrian boarder crossing. Training, reinforcements were coming from Turkey… I saw this with my own eyes. Being the friend of ISIS, Turkey assists a great danger to humanity. It also manipulated the public perception to distract from them aiding ISIS. This is a danger for the whole world. We stopped this by giving a lot of very heavy sacrifices.
If we would say today that we eliminated ISIS in the means that they do not exist anymore, then this is not true. Also, we could not completely erase ISIS’ mentality in the Middle East and in Syria. Today, there is a great danger. Maybe the will of ISIS as a big force, a big organisation who announced itself and carried out these huge offensives was broken. This level of ideology vanished, this strength vanished. We brought this to an end. But in terms of mentality, we did not bring an end to it. This line is still strong in Syria and the whole world knows this. For example, the Al-Hol camp or the detention facilities here in Rojava and Syria that are full with ISIS members. In those camps there are huge numbers of ISIS families. This problem is nothing that can be solved alone by the people of Syria or the Autonomous Administration. In Rojava, like we did in Kobane, we were fighting with the consciousness to protect the whole of humanity. Concerning the rehabilitation of those in the detention facilities or in camps like the one in Al-Hol, we as people of the Middle East and people of the world need to sit and solve this problem together. We on our own can not solve this. We have theoretical principles, for example, as the Autonomous Administration, we do not execute people. We do not see killing as a solution. On the contrary, our approach is based on scientific educational programs. But we have a huge number of people in our hands. Until we can de-radicalise them, until they understand the true meaning of Islam, time is needed. We need time for this. The international community needs to work together and start a campaign to act against the ISIS mentality. If we do not work together today, tomorrow it will pose a great danger. A great danger on Syria, on the Autonomous Administration, on the whole Middle East and ultimately on the whole world. This is a great threat to the whole world.
At what stage is ISIS now? They are trying to reproduce themselves. They want to increase the number of their members. If we look in the camps, there are many women, but the men are in detention facilities. These women have been in the camps for a long time. But they are giving birth to children inside the camp. Behind this there is a mentality that we should not underestimate. It is the mentality of reproduction and the will to gain strength through building up a mass of people. Their aim is to grow. This is the message they are sending to the world. I say that this is dangerous. If we as an international community are not dealing with this now, tomorrow it will become a plague spreading to the whole world, then neither us nor the international community can stop it anymore. Then, every explosion that will happen in a country will cost the lives of civilians. We need to analyse this situation well and whatever measurements are needed to prevent this from happening we need to put in practice. Our ethical principles and our system is based on democratic values. Our system is based on people administrating themselves. We want to educate people with humanist methods of making them understand and to reflect on their own existence. The number of people in the detention facilities is huge. We do not execute people, there is no death penalty in our system. Our approach to prisoners of war is following clear ethical principles, we do not violate them. We give value to life itself. This is what we subscribe to and this is why we are supporting everything connecting to life. But the question is until when will this go on. ISIS did not bring injustice just on us, the Syrian people or the Autonomous Administration. Not just on the Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Syriacs, Circassians ect. They did injustice to the whole world. It is a worldwide threat. This is why the world needs to solve this problem. This is why I want to call on humanity, so that we solve this problem together. It should not be expected that this is solved alone by the Autonomous Administration. It should be solved on an international level.”