Women's Protection Units (YPJ)

“Freedom” can be a very difficult word to define, but it is easy to understand when you lose it.

I am almost four years old. I am on horseback with my mother as our family is being smuggled from northern Iraq across the border on a clear spring dawn. It is 1988 and the Iran-Iraq War is at its final, gruelling, violent end.

A cool breeze blows against us.

I stare up at the sky tracking the sound of the planes and anticipating the familiar silence before the bang of exploding bombs shatter the earth. The planes circle overhead, but this plane is different from the other planes we’ve seen so often.

Green Left Weekly hosted a screening of the film Kurdistan: Women at War on March 9 to celebrate International Women’s Day. The film, directed by Mylene Sauloy, follows the historical development of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and other similar groups defending and transforming their communities across Northern Syria.

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