February 10, 2015
After leaving her hometown of Kobani and living in Turkey for several months, Siddiqa Barkal was happily reunited with her husband and two sons who remained in the city to fight against ISIS. Siddiqa’s three daughters and her youngest son were also rejoiced to return with her.
Siddiqa’s husband, Ismat Sheikh Hassan, is the head of the Defense Committee in the Kobani Canton, part of the autonomous district proclaimed by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, known by the Kurdish acronym PYD. He was widely quoted by Western media during the battle for Kobani.
Siddiqa says that she was very sad to leave her hometown and live in exile, despite the warm welcome she received in Turkey. She took the risk of returning to Kobani even before ISIS fighters were defeated because her young children could not bear living outside their city.
In Kobani, Siddiqa stood by her husband, sons and other fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) during the battles and made them food until they won over the battle against ISIS.
SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT
Various of family in living room
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman) Siddiqa Barkal, Refugee Who Returned to Kobani
01:01 - 09:45
“We left when ISIS attacked Kobani on [September] 20. We did not leave willingly. We wanted to stay in Kobani and live with the comrades and fighters. We wanted to be martyred with them. Seven days after I left Kobani with my children, they convinced me of returning. We returned but could not enter. My children and I stayed in Suruc. They did not tolerate to live outside Kobani. They kept saying that they wanted to return. I had three girls and a young boy with me. Even though my children could not live outside of Kobani, the situation there did not allow us to return. The father of my children and two of my children were fighting in the city. The rest of my children and I were very worried about them. My young son Hamza used to cry and say, ‘I cannot stand living outside Kobani because my friends are not here. I feel lonely when I am outside my city.’
In Suruc, my children and I were living in a house. My children never left the house during the day. On certain days, they used to sleep during the day and stay up at night watching television. On the 25th of the month, my older daughter went to Kobani. She called me, saying, ‘I cannot take it anymore. My father and two brothers are in Kobani and I need to go and see them. I want to stay in my city, Kobani.’
“I had many friends and acquaintances in northern Turkey who offered to let me live in their homes. I went near to Kobani on several occasions. My young son and I cried as smoke was rising from the buildings. The sound of explosions and gunshots was heard. Warplanes were bombing and the city was being destroyed. We were very worried about our friends who were fighting to defend the city. One day, I decided to return to Kobani while ISIS mercenaries were still there. I called my daughter then to tell her that we were coming and she told her father. My husband called me, saying: ‘Why did you not tell us that you were coming?’ I returned to Kobani and he was very happy. Some were worried that my children would be affected by the scenes of killing and destruction. There were also worried that ISIS was still there. “I used to make dinner for the fighters on the front and help them. We never thought that ISIS could have control over us. Many people used to ask me whether Kobani will fall or not. I used to say to them that Kobani will never fall and that it shall be victorious. 'We will fight until the last drop of our blood and the last stone in the city.’ I kept saying this to the women and mothers. The ideas of leader Abdullah Ocalan were behind the victory. Male and female fighters are fighting by relying on their own capabilities and conviction. They were not pushed by anyone; they were not forced to do this. They are fighting with their hearts, which is why they will achieve victory. For example, when you make a child carry something, he will carry it but he might fail. If he carries it with his own will and strength, he will succeed. The young men and women came from all parts of Kurdistan. We consider the member of the People’s Protection Units and the Women’s Protection Units our sons and daughters and parts of our bodies. They are sacrificing their lives for their land, which is why we will achieve victory. “I cannot describe the way I felt when we returned to Kobani. We felt so much joy. My little son Hamza was thrilled because he returned to his friends. I asked my son on our way back, ‘Who do you want to see first, your brothers or your father?’ He said: ‘I want to return to my friends.’ Friendship is more important for him. When I was in Kobani, I was very happy to see the comrade fighters. I did not believe that I was actually with them, and that I was embraced by Kobani. When the comrade fighters liberated Kobani from ISIS mercenaries, I was trembling. I was so happy that I did not understand what was happening. I asked a woman near me: ‘Am I in Kobani? Has it been liberated?’ “I cannot describe the joy I felt. When I left Kobani, I felt as if one of my sons or the father of my children was martyred. We all cried when we left. Even my young son went to the comrades and held their hands, saying: ‘I want to stay in Kobani and be martyred.’ When I left Kobani, I was told that I would return in seven days. My son was fighting on the eastern front, where battles were the fiercest. I did not tell anyone that I was leaving. When my son heard about it he said: ‘Mother, why are you leaving?’ I told him that I was not leaving willingly, and that I was leaving because the comrades wanted me to. When I left, I did not bid my sons farewell. It was a very painful moment. I cannot forget that moment. The moment I crossed the border was very painful. I cannot describe it. “Now that Kobani has been liberated, people will return to the city in the next few weeks. Those whose houses were destroyed will rebuild their houses. We have to help each other, take care of ourselves and return to our previous lives. We will live a happy life. Rojava [Syrian part of Kurdistan] will be fully liberated from ISIS mercenaries, especially that they were defeated in Kobani. The People’s Protection Units and the Women’s Protection Units have pledged to fight ISIS wherever they were. We, the people, should help the members of these forces who are sacrificing their lives for the homeland.”
Various of family inside the house
Various of young Hamza
Various of family and guests in front of the house