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Viyan Soran

Viyan Soran was born in Silemanî, South Kurdistan, in 1981. Having felt the brunt of oppression of the Kurdish people as well as Kurdish women, she joined Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 1997. In a short period of time she demonstrated her dedication and leadership abilities within the organization, and rose within the ranks quickly. A rising star, she became a successful and high ranking commander of YJA STAR (Kurdistan Women Defense Forces) and a leading figure in the PKK.

The objectives of the PKK can be defined in three distinct, yet interlinked socio-economic, political, and environmental goals. First and foremost, the PKK’s struggle has always been a human struggle for freedom of the oppressed Kurds who have been forcibly governed by four of the most hostile and authoritarian regimes in the world — Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Secondly, the PKK’s struggle also consists of a comprehensive, persistent and social campaign endeavoring to emancipate all women, not just Kurdish women, from the patriarchal norms continuing in the world. Despite the existence of waves of feminism globally, women (particularly in the developing world) continue to face significant marginalization and gender oppressions. Thirdly, the PKK is deeply committed to an ecological campaign to save the environment from the unchecked advances of industrialization and consumerism.

As a PKK commander, Viyan Soran was committed to these lines of struggle and embodied them in her personal life and struggle. She persistently showed her strong detestation of the illegal abduction of Kurdish national leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999. On 2 February 2006 she committed self-immolation as an act of great sacrifice in protest against the abduction of Ocalan, his incarceration and isolation in Imrali Island prison. Another essential objective behind her self-immolation was to highlight and protest against the emergence of treason within the PKK. By offering her body in the greatest act of sacrifice, Viyan Soran effectively brought the disloyalty of particular individuals among the PKK to an end.

Martyr Viyan is one of the greatest national symbols of the Kurdish people and their national struggle for liberation and freedom.