The guerrilla fighter Zinarin, whose diary we will now publish in extracts, wrote her diary in the form of letters to her friend and comrade, Melsa.
From the diary of Selma Doğan (Zinarin), part 1
1 February 1997, Heftanin/Geliyê Pisaga
My dear friend,
while I was descending a snowy valley – I don’t know how many times I slipped – I felt heavy, full of longing and emotions. My friends were not with me. I missed my friends. Why were the first seconds, the first hours of separation and longing so heavy and painful? Why did I have a lump in my throat and why were the tears in my eyes close to overflowing?
Next to me my comrades, whose friendship and comradeship were not yet put to the test and not yet proven. They were far away. We had not yet cried together, not yet laughed together. We had not yet disappeared together in the complex labyrinth of life, nor had we met again on the right path afterwards. These companions in arms were therefore still very far away from me. I was like a child who had got lost in a channel of the labyrinth of life and who was freezing. On my back I carried good and bad memories with me instead of a rucksack.
As the distance between me and my friends grew, the memories became more and more difficult. Separations! Especially ours, my dearest friend, I find merciless. The pain of never seeing those left behind is like a knife cut to the heart. I don’t like break-ups. But who does…
Love passes its most important test during separations. Love can only be created if you do not forget, if you strengthen love with longing and enlarge your heart with the power of waiting for the reunion. And the greatest desire is not to be forgotten. What a pitiless fear it is to be forgotten! Is this why people give each other gifts before a separation and say the four coded words “Do not lose it”, which actually means “Don’t forget me”? Yes, my friends, my dear comrades and you, my dear friend, I will of course not forget.
I have hundreds of seeds of love in my heart, and I have to let each one grow. I am in a paradisiacal part of our country. …and at the same time, I am at a point in time of a new beginning. Such a sharp transition from an end to a new beginning will surely be painful. But my heart will bear the pain. This separation, to which I am hostile to the bone, will turn into a mild longing, I know it. That must be so, for I do not want to make the people I love the reason for failures. (The pen I write with was given to me by my friend Serkan. The pen is used up. If you only knew how much even this saddens me. I really need to overcome this emotionality.) Because for me, success is the only condition for seeing you again. I don’t want people to regret having loved me. The people who love me should be proud of that. The only condition is success in the revolution. That’s the promise I made to all comrades and that’s why I’m carrying it out.
There are tasks and hard days ahead of me. Perhaps everything will start all over again for me. The war and the struggle to create life in struggle. The practice of life faces me with all its complexity and difficulties. I am not expected to stumble back and forth like a confused duck flapping its wings. That is not what I want to do either.
To jump into the multilayered sea of life, to swim and let swim-… I have to do that, Melsa. Because I have historical and contemporary and personal reasons for doing it. I want to fight with conviction. I want to fight with the enemy, with the backwardness, with the homelessness that has separated me from all the people I love, with this lack of freedom and all the inequalities and injustices, I want to fight. Maybe these separations revive the uprising rebellious feelings in me. I want to rebel. Why are we forced to separate, why is love only lived half-heartedly, why can’t man love as his heart wants him to?
This is the ruthless reason for rebellion. I’m angry at reality. And I do not accept it. I will fight. I will plant love and fight for a worthy land where we will never again be forced to part.
Most of all, I wish you were here too, and we could have fought shoulder to shoulder. But because the merciless reality has taken a part of you (both of Melsa’s feet were amputated by the war) and you can’t be here because of it, and we won’t be able to breathe the beautiful air of this mysterious and mystical place together, I am angry and will fight.
Only in this way can I calm the feelings that constantly make me think: “What if you could come? My feelings are crazy and hard to control. I am a stranger. Being alone in an unknown place has made everything even more difficult for me. But I also understand that being here is an expression of the Party’s confidence in me. There are great backwardness and mistakes. To appear to the Party as a crying and whining child is a mistake. There’s a lot I have to do. Melsa, it’s the little things here that make all the difference. One little detail can lead to success as well as loss. So, it’s imperative that I become an organized person.
February 2, 1997
The war has begun. I attended a group meeting yesterday. Here we uncovered a clique and exposed the leaders. The accused is a scheming woman, who has used cunning to make the flawed methods in the approach of an inexperienced and harmless group commander her ascension ladder and thus to bring him down. In the process, she has incited inexperienced, very young friends against the commander and managed to portray him as a monster. She stepped into the trap she set herself.
After a long period of effective propaganda about comradeship, she has become more and more concrete. From the beginning, her voice and facial expression did not seem believable to me. An inner voice told me: “She does not feel what she says”. Towards the end of her speech the accused revealed her trump card and suggested that the commander should be removed from his post and write a self-critical report. Once again, the classical woman came out with all her ‘originality’. Fortunately, some people spoke, even if they did not quite put aside their own calculations, as far as it was in their own interests…
Without touching the two – the accused and the commander in question – too much, they touched on the truth with their criticism and thus the situation could be assessed, understood, and revealed by us. We intervened. The woman’s guilt was established. We demanded a report. All our friends agreed to the proposal. The accused was smart enough to understand that further efforts were useless. She looked at the ground, very angry, ambitious and deceitful, like a commander who had lost but had not yet completely given up his trump card. She did not seem to give up quickly. But I was calm, peaceful and happy, because I knew that she could not influence the Party’s iron will with her disturbing looks, and that the developing free and upright woman would frighten her more than she frightened us.
Yesterday and today I tried to understand and evaluate connections instinctively. One must be strong and upright in the class struggle. Only in this way can one win. To be taken seriously, one must be strong. To be controlled, impulsive, courageous and to contribute to solutions in practice is essential. If you try to lead the class struggle for small-minded self-interests and tiny personal reasons, you will suffer damage and cause harm. One must be very upright in the struggle and make demands for the common good. This is the only way to fight backwardness with success. I am sure it is not possible otherwise. Today, we who know you, talked about you once again and looked at our pictures. The picture of the two of us sitting under a tree, each of us resembling a leaf faded in autumn. That was on a day when I was wounded, and you took all your time to comfort me… Afterwards we sang songs of friendship. That day we were very melancholic because the happy time of our friendship was coming to an end. Nietzsche says: “Memory is a wound that festers.” I like what he says more and more. Sometimes I feel like he’s describing me.
4 February 1997
We’re snowed in halfway up our backs. And the snow continues to fall unabated. If this weather continues, we’ll be up to our necks in snow by evening. Because the unit couldn’t come from below and their tents are snowed in, we couldn’t do any classes today. The friends went to get wood and we cleaned the tents from the snow. We are resisting the winter, the cold, and the snow with plastic tents, which is not very useful. Maybe that was appropriate two years ago, but now… Today we could be in well-developed tunnels and caves, but because of our laziness, laziness and stupidity we live in these conditions. A little snow wouldn’t sabotage the rhythm of our lives. With our friends, the willingness to continue the rhythm even under difficult conditions decreases. Today, for example, due to the snow, the guards on the hill and the patrolling units did not perform their duties. Everyone thinks that today it will snow, the enemy will not come.
February 6, 1997
The door of the oven is open. The colours and indescribable flames, the bright red light shimmering out between the dark red embers makes me feel sensitive and thoughtful. Yes! Tomorrow I will take my bag on my back again and set off. Farewells and discussions. Going to a new place is “Another new beginning of my life” – I will say. This time I will set off for Çiyayê Spî.