DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — In pitch dark one night in 1991, some 50 people marched from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq toward the Turkish border, unarmed and clad in traditional local attire. As they approached the frontier, a Turkish reconnaissance helicopter began to hover in the area, complicating their plan to sneak into Turkey. Only one woman marched among the men — 19-year-old Amineh Kakabaveh. She kept calm despite the building tension. Evading the helicopter and the border guards, the travelers managed to reach the Turkish border town of Silopi around midnight. The young Kakabaveh could have hardly imagined she was on a journey to a bright political career in Europe.
An Iranian Kurd, Kakabaveh belonged to the Revolutionary Society of Iranian Kurdistan's Toilers, better known as Komala. She had joined its armed wing as a child to become a peshmerga, or a Kurdish guerrilla fighter.