UPDATE: Kurdish Fighter Ceylan Özalp Reported Alive; Contradicts Earlier Unsubstantiated Claims

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editor-commen-deskFor War In ContextPaul Woodward finds growing credibility in the “Ceylan Ozalp is alive” counter-story, bolstered by affirmations by Kurdish journalist Müjgan Halis and PKK defense lawyer Ayla Akat Ata. In his comments, Woodward considers these sources authoritative, and is inclined to think they’re likely true. Which reopens questions about Ozalp’swar-in-context-ozalp-alive-report fate, and should spark interest in this mysterious Kurdish fighter’s whereabouts.

Note: The above photo, purporting to be Ceylan Ozalp, in circulation on Tumblr sites, isn’t new, it appeared around the time of the initial BBC broadcast about Kurdish Women fighters.

Here’s the thing: If Ceylan is not dead, and can identify herself online somewhere, or to a reporter, or to someone with a camera, the best and only evidence that truly can confirm Ozalp is alive is Ceylan Ozalp herself.

At the same time, no one has been able to verify that the dramatic claim that Ceylan Ozalp suicide story is true, either. Which lends a degree of credibility to the challenges made by the growing number of skeptics.

I don’t know enough about the sources, and haven’t explored these new reports enough to have an opinion, other than to say, beware of false or premature conclusions. And be thankful that not everyone believes the first thing they read, and considers it a fact. Because so many readers embraced a sentimental narrative about the bravery of a female Kurdish warrior who happens to be photogenic, this is all the more reason to be wary, and to question how the story is being presented. Good update by Paul Woodward, let’s hope we learn more.

War In ContextPaul Woodward:

“19-Year-Old Kurdish Woman Fighter ‘Kills Herself Rather Than Falling into Isis’ Hands’” is a headline appearing in International Business Times, October 3. I referred to the same story in this post, but it appears not to be true.

The first appearance of this story is thought to be this tweet on September 28 from @cansuipek21.

The tragic image of a nineteen-year-old woman fighter killing herself with her last bullet so that she would not be captured by ISIS, must have seemed iconic to many observers — a graphic representation of the plight Kurdish fighters in Kobane face, surrounded on three sides by ISIS while receiving no support from Turkey and very little from U.S. airstrikes. Sometimes a story conveys a powerful truth even when it turns out not to be true.

Müjgan Halis, a Kurdish journalist, has tweeted (as have others) that Özalp is alive. This was retweeted by the politician Ayla Akat Ata (who was a defense lawyer for Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK). At this point, I’m inclined to treat their word as authoritative.

This should be good news for everyone apart from ISIS.

In early September, Gabriel Gatehouse reported: Around a third of the Syrian Kurdish force is made up of women. On the front lines they fight alongside the men, taking the same risks and facing the same dangers….(read more)

War in Context


3 Comments on “UPDATE: Kurdish Fighter Ceylan Özalp Reported Alive; Contradicts Earlier Unsubstantiated Claims”

  1. I would think that unless she comes forward that she either be treated as missing in action: presumed dead or killed in action. If she is in fact dead then her sacrifice can be inspiration for her people. If she is living still she is still can be an inspiration by telling her people what actually happened and perhaps some other young woman’s sacrifice is being tagged as hers. Even so if a young woman did die in Kobane sacrificing herself so others could escape it she was still more human and noble than those who would have taken her, tortured her, enslaved her, and sold her to some Muslim prince in one of the U.A.E emirates or the Sultan of Brunei or someone similar.

  2. […] [More: Kurdish Fighter Ceylan Özalp Reported Alive; Contradicts Earlier Unsubstantiated Claims] […]


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