“What We Really Need Is Solidarity Amongst The Oppressed Peoples.”
One of the commanders of the battalion, Sant Azgaltyan summed up the situation in the region and talked to us about the work of the battalion including the solidarity campaign with the Armenians living in Syria/Rojava. “We have a message to the whole world” he said, “we will continue to defend our lands against the imperialist backed fascist Turkish state.”
While the threats of occupation by the Turkish state against Rojava continue, preparations are underway for a resistance.
We interviewed the Armenian battalion. One of the commanders of the battalion, Sant Azgaltyan summed up the situation in the region and talked to us about the work of the battalion including the solidarity campaign with the Armenians living in Syria/Rojava. “We have a message to the whole world” he said, “we will continue to defend our lands against the imperialist backed fascist Turkish state. What we really need is solidarity amongst the oppressed peoples.”
Hello, firstly, can you introduce yourself?
-Hi, my name is Sant Azgaltyan, I am one of the commanders within the Martyr Nubar Ozanyan Armenian Battalion.
Can you talk briefly about the battalion? What do you think are the concrete tasks?
-Of course. As it stands, we are much more than a battalion, we can see both qualitative and quantitative developments. The battalion has two main tasks, it’s the self-defence force of both the Armenians and the Rojava Revolution. These tasks are inseparable. Armenians seized the opportunity created by the Rojava revolution and formed their self-defence forces. Prior to this, Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Suryanis had already formed their own self-defence forces and organizations. Armenian peoples living in Northeast Syria created such organizations much later. The Armenian Battalion took its place at the front under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during the occupation of Serekaniye and Gire Spi. This was the first hands on experience.
Of course, the threats and attacks of the Turkish state are endless. For this reason, we are currently actively positioning ourselves in the front. In a sense, this creates a positive situation for us. It brings with it the readiness against the invasion at all times.
“People are defending their lands!”
How is your situation on the front line in general, how is your work going?
-The line we are positioned on is the Tall Tamr line and the morale of our battalion is quite high. There are also new participants, they are also positioned after they have passed a certain training. The enemy’s most fundamental weapons are the technologically advanced offensive weapons. This is based on reconnaissance and Armed Drones. Of course, we have developed different methods for countermeasures. The main focus of our education/training is on this.
The front line is also a line where civilians’ live. In this sense, our responsibilities are doubled. We also have a responsibility to protect the lives of civilians.
The front also has the characteristic that many peoples stand on the common line of defence. One of the most important achievements of the Rojava Revolution is the joint defence of the Kurds, Arabs, Assyrian, and Suryani Forces together with the Armenian people against the invasion of their lands by fascism. We also attach great importance to the increasing competence of our women’s battalion in the war. This is also a site of the women’s freedom struggle against the male-dominated mentality.
The Turkish state is constantly voicing threats of attack. We are ready. A new invasion attack will not be like the invasion of Afrin and Serekaniye.
What will be different this time?
-History has proven many times that invading forces has been defeated by the resistance and armed struggle of the people of that country. Just like in China and Vietnam, CCCP was able to eradicate Hitler fascism in Europe because people of the country had joined the war against fascism. Same thing happened on these lands as well. Led by the Kurdish people, the people in this region successfully defeated ISIS reaction.
After the defeat of ISIS, the second biggest army of NATO, the Turkish military set eyes on Efrin. Afrin was occupied directly with its own armed forces, the military, not the gangs they used as pawns. In the new process, both the progress in the consciousness of the enemy and the fact that the military force is equipped not only militarily, but also ideologically-politically constitutes the basis of the work. The political training of the military forces, the strengthening of its ties with the people, and the mobilisation of the people against the occupation constitute the main lines of this process. Turkish State will not fight the armed forces but fight the people.
We know that instead of overcoming the new process with old tactics, we can achieve success by learning from the process and applying revolutionary methods. In short, the essence of the matter was our ideological and political inadequacies. When we approach the problem of war, we are able to unleash the power and tactics that will nullify technological superiority. The place where all this will be tested will be the battle ground. We are aware of that too.
Another issue is the increasing oppression of the state on the people in Turkey. Turkish State is in a state of economic crisis. The economy is getting worse day by day, and the solution is increasing oppression and war. However, it’s hand for a new occupation is not as strong as before. In this sense, a new attack will mean a greater risk for the Turkish state.
What is the stance of the battalion in the face of Turkish threats in the Middle East? Especially when there is an invasion of Armenian lands in the Caucasus?
-The battalion consists of the people who felt the attacks of the Turkish State the most. It has historical roots and current reasons. Most of the Armenian Genocide was committed in these lands. The genocidal policies of the Committee of Union and Progress were continued by the Republic of Turkey and the Kemalists. At that time, few Armenian children who survived the Genocide took shelter or were taken by Arab and Kurdish families. Most of them were converted to Islam. Their descendants have reunited today to protect their own existence as a military force and to defend the Rojava Revolution. This is the continuation of a historical phenomenon.
Another situation is that in the current process, the Turkish State, with its neo-Ottomanism dreams, resorted to invasions and plunder in the Caucasus as well as in the entire Middle East, and pursued the policy of provoking the Azerbaijani state against Armenia. Karabakh was occupied by the Turkish Republic, because it provided a large number of advanced weapons, ammunition, and personnel support to Azerbaijan. Of course, we stand against attacks against the Armenian people in particular, although we generally oppose all aggression wherever they are in the world.
In addition, the state of the Republic of Turkey, which is a master in psychological warfare, claimed that our battalion fought in the Caucasus, in Karabakh. By revealing this lie, they show that they are not able to stomach the battalion. It has become clear that the statement of Talat Pashas, “The Armenian problem is over!” is not actually true. The descendants of the Armenians who were persecuted currently stand against the Ottoman expansionism of the Republic of Turkey. They are declaring that they will not allow a second genocide.
Solidarity with the Armenians of Syria/Rojava
Do you receive any external support? How is your work perceived from outside of Syria?
-There is a thinking that Armenians living in Syria are Christians. This is historically an incomplete understanding of the consequences of genocide. 200,000 Armenian women and children were noted as “missing” after the Genocide.
The work of Comrade Nubar and other people have shown that those missing children grew up with Arab and Kurdish families and were converted to Islam. However, the public knows that they are Armenian, and they present it as such. It is our historical responsibility to bring more of this reality to light.
Secondly, both our battalion and our assembly are the places where Christian and Muslim Armenians come together and re-learn their own language and culture. Christian Armenians have become aware of the Islamised Armenian reality.
In time, we believe that this will also be realised by Armenians living outside of Syria. Already many Armenians want to know about the truth. It should not be forgotten that Northern Syria and Rojava are the lands where the genocide took place. In this sense, this is the place where the main work on the genocide should be done.
Do you have any concrete work on this issue?
-War prevents many other works to be done. However, despite this, educational studies are carried out on genocide. A certain solidarity is needed for our Armenian people to develop their self-organisation. A campaign has already been started. “Let’s Solidarity with the Syrian/Rojava Armenians!” The main purpose of the campaign is to inform the oppressed peoples of the world about the hidden consequences of the genocide.
Politically, it is necessary to create public opinion against the attacks of the Turkish state and ultimately contribute to the development of our self-defence and self-organisations. In this sense, Rojava Armenians feel the need for solidarity. This is a need not only for the Armenian people, but for the entire Rojava people. With solidarity, the process of preserving and building the revolution can be successful. The Turkish Republic’s reckless threat to Rojava and its attempts to invade Kurdistan are mainly due to the lack of solidarity.
The oppressed peoples of the world are in search of making solidarity stronger today. The sovereigns, the collaborating states of the region and their gangs have preparations and plans for the future. Likewise, we have preparations for the coming war. With this awareness, it is essential to expand solidarity. Our battalion ultimately represents a part of the oppressed peoples of the world. Our rank is clear in this sense.
We embrace the leaders of this struggle. We embrace the legacy of the leaders of the struggle against fascism and imperialism. This consciousness has been inherited from Comrade Nubar Ozanyan. With this awareness, we commemorate İbrahim Kaypakkaya, Gonzalo and many more martyrs of the revolution. We take our steps knowing that their struggle is the only way of salvation for the oppressed peoples of the world.
How do you evaluate the development in the battalion?
-It is possible to talk about many developments in the two and a half to three years when the battalion was established. First, it is necessary to see that a certain quality has been reached. The most important factor was, of course, the increase in political character. It is difficult to overcome the remnants of the dominant culture of thousands of years and the effects of the system established by the Syrian Regime on the basis of Arab nationalism. What is essential is the problem of correct reshaping the society shaped by the sovereign powers. All our effort is to destroy the old and build the new in the minds in the first place. There have been positive developments in this regard. Many of our warriors are aware of the reality and can direct their lives on this basis. In addition, with continuous military training, our force must be prepared against attacks by the Turkish Republic.
“Migration is not a solution!”
Millions of Syrians are exposed to inhumane treatment on their migration routes and especially in Eastern Europe, and there have been those who lost their lives. What is your approach to this issue?
-It is exceedingly difficult for a people to endure all these imperialist and fascist occupations, genocide, threats, economic troubles, and to live in constant fear of displacement. If the people of the country are not well-organised, they feel the need to migrate because of war and economic problems. This problem is thousands of years old. After the civil war in Syria, a revolution realised in Rojava with the organization of the Kurdish people.
However, due to the devastating consequences of ISIS barbarism, especially the Christian segment were forced to migrate. As this was not enough, thousands of people had to migrate due to the occupations of the Turkish Republic. Refugeeism is a genuine problem not only outside of Syria, but also inside Rojava today. There are thousands of people from Afrin, Serekaniye, and Gire Spi who have been forced to live in the camps, and they receive extraordinarily little foreign aid. The main assistance is again provided by the Autonomous Administration. The immigration tendency of the Christian segment still poses a fundamental problem.
We are trying to explain that immigration is not a solution to the best of our abilities. The situation has become clearer with the deaths on the migration routes and the racist attacks in Turkey and Europe. The main issue is the defence of their own land. This is achievable. Our battalion and parliamentary work have also brought a certain perspective to our Armenian people. Our people, who take part in the battalion and in the parliamentary work, have more moral strength, and their desire for life has increased.
Recently, there has been more people return home from Turkey to Rojava. It seems more and more that migration does not constitute a solution. What matters is the protection and development of our living spaces. In this sense, we are developing certain projects not only militarily and socially, but also ecologically.
Can you elaborate on these ecological projects?
-Our issue does not end with the ideological and politically correct approach to the problems experienced. Practical steps for this need to be organized. Of course, our military and social work is the main work. Today, however, we are faced with climate and environmental disasters as a result of imperialist policies. Although its soils are fertile, drought has become the main problem of this geography. Knowing this problem, Turkish State also cuts off the Euphrates water, and cut off the Xabur water through their gangs.
Despite these, practical steps have been taken to reforest the areas we live in. A solution to the water problem was developed and 50 thousand trees were planted in the first phase with the project. The main purpose here is to make the afforestation culture permanent in the villages.
We are taking certain steps to encourage agriculture. Of course, we are not free from global climate disasters. However, we need awareness and projects to minimize these effects. In this sense, we are working together with the sections that make afforestation projects. At the same time, we are in the trend of raising awareness with training seminars and meetings.
We are the grandchildren of Armenians who “can only live in the desert”!
Do you have a message for Armenians “outside” or in the diaspora?
-In fact, we have a message to the oppressed peoples of the whole world. As a battalion, we are defending our lands against the imperialism-supported Turkish fascism. In this sense, the solidarity of the oppressed peoples is the solidarity we really need. In addition, we are exposed to the “special attention” of the Turkish Republic and the sovereigns due to our Armenian identity. We are the “problem” that Turkish state has not been able to resolve for a century. We are the grandchildren of Armenians, whom Talat Pasha said “they can only live in the desert”. Yes, we can live in the desert, we can turn it into liveable places. As a matter of fact, it was Armenians who initiated the development and establishment of Serekaniye, Deyr-ez Zor, Aleppo, Qamishli, Dirbesîye, Heseke and many more places after the genocide. We got our strength from our just and legitimate struggle, and we continue to do so. They cannot live comfortably even in their own palaces.
The descendants of the murderous and genocidal tradition resort to all kinds of oppression, massacres and corruption in order to live comfortably in their own palaces. They know that without the support of the imperialists, they would not be able to live there for long. Because of this reality, Armenians have historical responsibilities such as preventing a second genocide. No matter where in the world, with the solidarity of the Armenian people, the genocide plans of the Turkish Republic can be foiled. There are efforts of individuals and certain groups in this regard, but they are not enough. Our common voice should be louder in the face of threats of attack.