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My Whole Life Was a Struggle

by Sakine Cansiz

Translated by Janet Biehl

An iconic memoir by one of the first female fighters of the PKK
The bitter struggle of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, against the Turkish state has delivered inspirational but often tragic stories. This memoir by Kurdish revolutionary Sakine Cansiz is one of them. Sakine, whose code name was 'Sara', co-founded the PKK in 1974 and dedicated her life to its cause. On the 9 January 2013 she was assassinated in Paris in circumstances that remain officially unresolved.

This is the first chapter of her iconic life, leading up to her arrest in 1979, penned as dramatic events unfolded against the backdrop of the Turkish revolutionary left. She writes about the excitement of entering the movement as a young woman, discovering she would have to challenge traditional gender roles as she rose amongst its ranks. She was one of the first to demand the recruitment and education of female revolutionaries, and demanded total gender equality within the PKK, which is now one of its central tenets.

Today, 'Sara' is an inspiration to women fighting for liberation across the world. This is her story in her own words, and is in turns shocking, violent and path-breaking.

Translated by Janet Biehl.

Sakine Cansiz was a Kurdish revolutionary, who was a leading member of the PKK, present at its first congress of 1978. She was imprisoned between 1980 and 1991 for her membership of the PKK. A close associate of Abdullah Ocalan, she was murdered in Paris in 2013.

Janet Biehl was the collaborator of the late Murray Bookchin. She translated Revolution in Rojava by Knapp et al. and the memoirs of the Kurdish revolutionary, Sakine Cansiz.

'Sakine Cansiz was a true pioneer and one of the founders of a political movement whose story is far from over and whose latest chapters we witness unfolding in today's events in Turkey and Syria. This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the real motivates of this unique modern political movement' - Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign 'A brilliant, passionate girl who discovers Kurdish politics in high school and flees her family, determined to become a revolutionary instead of a housewife - A riveting, inspiring book' - Meredith Tax, feminist activist and author of A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State (2016) 'Here is the story of a fearless Kurdish woman full of fight, who, with pain and resistance, resurrected and caused resurrection, who rebelled and caused rebellion, who became free and caused freedom. Her story is the story of Kurdistan, the story of Kurdish women, the story of Middle Eastern women. A story that renews itself with the consciousness of freedom' - Çiğdem Doğu, coordination of Kurdistan Women's Communities KJK

Translator’s note
German translator’s note
Author’s preface
Translator’s introduction: The 1970s political context

Published by Pluto Press in Apr 2018
Paperback ISBN: 9780745338019
eBook ISBN: 9781786802910

135mm x 215mm

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