21 of July
Today we remember the martyr Dean Carl Evans, also known as Sehid Givara Rojava. Dean was 22 years old when he fell martyr liberating the city of Manbij from fascist Isis gangs. Born in Oxford with a dad in the army, Dean moved to Warminster, in the Reading area when he was six after his parents split. His mother got remarried to Steve Howell, and they raised Dean together until his mother died in 2011 when he was 18. “He was my son in my mind,” Steve said. “From the age of six to when he died at 22, I brought Dean up. I believed in him.”
His mother’s death hit him hard, according to Steve. Dean had always held a keen interest in the military, coming from an army family; he had been an active cadet. He never joined the army however, supporting his family working as a dairy farmer in the countryside he had grown up in. In 2015, when Isis threatened to eradicate the Kurdish and Yezidi peoples, Dean felt unable to sit back and watch. While his government did nothing, Dean prepared. For eight months he researched, made contacts and planned his journey. “He was not a glory hunter, he wanted to feel like he’d done something with his life. Was he well informed enough about the risks? Yes, he knew the reality.” – Steve Howell.
In 2015, Dean left behind the Berkshire countryside for Rojava, Syria to support the people’s revolution there and to help defend it from the fascist attacks of Isis and the Turkish state. Speaking a few months after his arrival, Dean said, “it was the fact that I knew people were coming here to help. It didn’t fit right with me that I was at home living my comfortable life when I could be here.” After being smuggled through Turkey Dean arrived in Rojava, Syria. There he took the Kurdish name Givara, the Kurdishisation of Guevara, the Argentinian revolutionary. With only time for brief training Dean was deployed with his unit to the front, where he took part in the liberation of Tel Tamr from Isis, the same battle in which Ivana Hoffman fell martyr.
He showed “revolutionary and combative spirit on the front lines and always fought without hesitation to protect the people of this region”-YPG command. Dean fought bravely and always looked out for his comrades, but he also missed his family greatly and hated for them to worry, “He called me on my birthday in 2015 and said he was in Syria,” Steve Howell, “I couldn’t accept it. I could understand why he wanted to be there, but it wasn’t easy to come to terms with.” After the liberation of Tel Tamr, Dean returned home to be with his family. He went back to work on a farm. But he was unable to leave the struggle behind him. “When he came back the first time I couldn’t open up to him,” Steve said. He still couldn’t bring himself to stand by and do nothing, and with so little public support or even awareness of the struggle for existence against fascism, Dean had only one recourse.
For him it was simple, “back home you have a lot of worries, about car, money, social things, but here it doesn’t matter. Here you just have one goal that’s shared through everyone, defeating Daesh,”He made the journey again to Rojava for the final time in 2016. Steve understood, “He was a humanitarian. He wanted to help people and stand up and be counted.” This time he had to be even more careful. Already under suspicion by the British Government who will use all the powers at their disposal, including prosecution and jail to impede solidarity efforts between the English and Kurdish people, Dean took the most indirect route he could to avoid detection, “I flew from London to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to Berlin, Berlin to Istanbul.” After again being smuggled across the Turkish border, Dean immediately joined with a unit comprised of Kurds, Arabs and internationals, both male and female, to participate in the offensive to liberate the city of Manbij from Isis.
While on the offensive, Dean was taking cover behind a wall when he was hit by a sniper’s bullet. He was able to apply first aid to himself but when a female comrade attempted to move him to safety they were targeted in an RPG attack which killed them both. The use of thermal scopes was very prevalent among Isis gangs, having logistical support from Turkey and many gulf states as well as their pick of weaponry from Syrian Iraqi and NATO militias, while the people’s protection forces (YPG) must make do with whatever Kalashnikovs they can find, with an international ban on lethal aid to the YPG implemented by Turkey.
Dean spoke of the prevalence of such cutting edge equipment in the hands of the fascists in a recording made shortly before he died after his unit was targeted by a sniper at night, “We would move and he would know exactly where we were.” Dean made his journey fully aware of the weight of his decision, “before coming here I had time to think of that and get ready. Obviously, I don’t want to die, but if it happens while fighting, then I’m not scared” Dean made the ultimate sacrifice for the struggle that he believed in with all his heart. He implored us at home to carry on his fight for the Kurdish struggle against fascism, saying at the end of his recorded will, “they could use your help very much”.
Dean was laid to rest in a military service in Derike, Rojava, in accordance with his wishes to be buried with his brothers and sisters who he had fought alongside. YPG command said in a statement, “he was a man with the noblest of intentions who planted a seed of love into the hearts of his friends and all the peoples of Rojava”.
Steve Howell and his wife Tracey say, “he was a martyr. We’re proud of what he did. He was prepared to stand up for what he believed in”
“He would have been very proud and would have regarded you all as his brothers and sisters,”- Dean’s father in a post on his Facebook page
To best capture his life, here are the words of a comrade and brother who lived and fought alongside him, written on the front where he fell, to be read at his funeral ceremony,
“It is difficult for me to write this text. To write about the dead, especially the Sehids, our martyrs is not easy. Heval Givara gave his life for the fight for justice and freedom in the fight against the most inhumane gang on this planet. To give justice to such a human and his struggle is not easy. Whatever I say will be not enough.
Heval Givara and I met each other in early May 2016 in Tel Tamir. We both joined Heval Ameds tabor (company) to participate in the operation that set out to liberate Manbij. For about three month we lived and fought side by side, shared joyful moments as well as hardship in this gruel conflict. We both did so motivated because of the duty we felt as humans.
Heval Givara was no politician, he was no former soldier, but for me he was one of the most impressive fighters I ever met. Heval Givara was a normal human, an English boy from the countryside with the aim to fight DAIS (Isis) He was a young man who saw the need to stop evil who turned into a soldier, a comrade and friend who did not care if someone was Kurd, Arab, Muslim or Christian.
In the battle against the enemy Heval Givara fought at the very frontline constantly searching for the right, not the easiest way. With his determination and way of fighting he took on the enemy without hesitation. This made him a blueprint and source of inspiration who gave us energy and motivation especially in difficult situations.
I will never forget the time we spend together. His memory as a human and fighter will always be a shining beacon of hope in dark and lonely moments. All of us should try to live up to his memory and continue the fight for humanity and freedom. We should do this to honor our fallen such as my friend Givara. I give my condolences to his family and all of his friends as well as all other families of martyrs who died for this honorable fight for dignity and justice.”