Michael Panser, nom-de-guerre Bager Nujiyan (formerly Xelîl Viyan), was a German revolutionary, who joined the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) out of his determined belief in the possibility of revolution and freedom. He began his political activities at an early age in anti-fascist and revolutionary struggles in Germany. His encounter with the Kurdish freedom movement familiarized him with the philosophy of Abdullah Öcalan. An enthusiastic thinker and activist, Bager Nujiyan soon travelled to Kurdistan, where he decided to become a freedom fighter and to connect worlds through struggle. He participated in the social and cultural activities of the Rojava revolution, as well as in the liberation of communities in the Middle East, besieged by ISIS.
A transcript of Bager Nujiyan’s own account of his political development was published on the website of the Internationalist Commune of Rojava and can be found here.
On December 14, 2018, Bager Nujiyan died during a Turkish airstrike on the guerrilla-held Medya Defence Areas in Kurdistan.
Shortly before his death, he wrote the following letter in honor of the Zapatista Uprising.
From the free mountains of Kurdistan to the southeast of Mexico: Towards a revolutionary culture of the global freedom struggle
In a time of uncertainty and chaos, the spirit of the revolution begins to reappear, and a time begins in which the strength of imagination can give new hope to the struggle.
The two times of the revolution are alive, they represent our movement, our history that continues. The one time is the long line of the struggle for freedom for a free society that began with Marx, the line of socialist utopia, of slow, patient growth, a gathering of experience and growing consciousness. The other time is the time of uprising, the moment of struggle, the split second of history in which everything is possible and which anticipates the coming world – our moment of freedom, of action. These two times form a unity, our unity, the two sides of our history, our path. It is these two poles of our movement: the line of historical sociality, the legacy of Neolithic communality and prophetic-philosophical search for truth on the one hand, and the creative power of events on the other hand, which for a moment deeply shook the dominant reality, most recently in the uprising of 1968 – an uprising that is not over, but which shines as a secret fire until today and has become the starting point of a new line of struggle. This line connects worlds, times, creates connections from Vietnam to Mexico and Kurdistan, because we all are the children of this moment of hope.
The great fields of struggle that will define our century are marked out. It is their reason , the reason of their system, which today more than ever threatens social life, life on this planet in general. It is the reason of the dominant man, the positive idea of the rational spirit, which has subjected nature and is shaping this world according to its will – male creation of power. Not only through the devastation of our planet and the horror of the industrial mass murder by fascism have we painfully experienced where the predominance of unrestricted reason, a patriarchal reason, the cold rationality of the white man, facing the “wild nature”, the “primitive societies” and the feminine, can lead. We know that this reason, which divides, analyzes, splits into classes and hierarchies, splits living diversity and transforms it into dead objects and raw materials, is not the height of human cultural creation but its end; not the progressive society but its decay.
It is our utopia of a free society – against its domination by nation-states, capitalism and industrial exploitation; against isolation and domination by money – our democratic confederalism that unites the communes. Against their lack of culture, assimilation and genocide; against the exploitation, destruction and alienation, our culture of life, the spirit of the commune, our worldwide party, our taking-sides.
What is at stake is the unfolding of a democratic culture that fills these thoughts with life. Because the free society is not an abstract idea, but our concrete way of living, our way of connecting with struggle and utopia on a daily basis. Our culture is meaning, is life, is creativity, is awareness, empathy and understanding; it is search, a process of acting, pausing, criticizing, overcoming. Our culture is self-organization, self-defense, a common struggle, daily creation – a rejection-and-creation, social activity beyond exploitation and dead work. Resistive culture today must find its beginning in the radical rejection of this capitalist modernity, in the consciousness and will to appropriate our lives – a rejection-and-creation. The human being, for us, is not a single individual, and certainly not the solitary man. We know that the human is society, communal life, organized around the woman, conscience and equality, a feeling-and-thinking, a common working-and-fighting, living in dignity. We are children of the motherline, of the culture of the Mother Goddess, which is nature, which is society, which is life, which is unity – a growing, an ending-and-becoming, a depth, experience and wisdom, a desire that does not vanish. This culture is myth, it is knowledge, and it is thousands of years older than the system we face. It is as utopian as the strength of our imagination and as real as the resistance of the historical societies, the witches, the slaves, the prophets, the communal movements of all ages, as determined as the struggles of the working people, as dynamic as in ’68, as subterraneanly-flowing and dignified as the insurgents somewhere in the south of Mexico, carried by love and anger like the guerrillas in the free mountains; as shy and clear in its meaning as the tentative search for another world…
It is true that we are at war, but it is not war that defeats us. We lose in life if we do not manage to develop a culture of resistance and self-determined life. Just as the guerrilla is not only the force of defending a territory or bare life; it is the defender of society, and the bearer of a culture of free life, of responsibility and meaning, a force of creativity. This is also the reason that has made the EZLN a symbol of the search for a different life and has inspired freedom-seekers on every continent. On New Year’s Day, the EZLN’s resisters celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Uprising of Dignity. Their struggle and our struggles are one, indivisible, part of a global revolution, which in this sense is a cultural revolution: the struggle for a different way of life.
It is time for a new alliance. Against their capitalist modernity, a new culture of diplomacy, an International of hope, which makes a democratic age, a democratic modernity possible.
Medya Defence Areas, South Kurdistan