Resistance, Consciousness and Social Transformation: Kurdish Women Political Prisoners in the Turkish Military Prison in Diyarbakir

By Berivan Sarikaya
Submitted to Session P4772 (Emancipatory Transformations in Kurdistan: Autonomy, Radical Democracy, and Gender Liberation, 2017 Annual Meeting
Gender/Women's Studies;
My paper looks at Kurdish women’s struggle and resistance, specifically with their incarceration in Diyarbakir Military Prison. I will provide an alternative knowledge to both the male-dominated canonical approach and even the feminist approach to the Kurdish women’s movement, starting not from their mass participation in armed struggle in the beginning of 1990s but rather with women’s resistance in Diyarbakir Military Prison in between 1980-1983 which has not been documented.
Kurdish resistance history has become incomplete and gendered as long as it silenced the women political prisoners’ experience since the stories and voices of these Kurdish women have indispensable part of transformative power of Kurdish movement. Based on this claim, I do not aim to reproduce scholarly knowledge of oppression and violence, but rather to emphasize the resistance, political consciousness, and transformation of self and society experienced and transmitted by Kurdish women political prisoners. I intend to critically examine the prison as a site of movement building, and in particular, how women political prisoners have played a key, transformative role in shaping the Kurdish movement. So I argue that without tracing the experiences of Kurdish women prisoners of Diyarbakir Military Prison, it is impossible to understand the contemporary dynamics of Kurdish women’s movement. In doing so, I will shed light on how Kurdish women political prisoner's shaped and informed the Kurdish women’s movement in particular, and the Kurdish struggle in general. One of the main contributions of this research is to write the missing pages in the resistance history of Kurdish women.