Woman guerrilla’s body tortured, put on display

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Turkish security forces tortured the body of a woman guerrilla, Kevser Eltürk (nom de guerre Ekin Wan). Ekin’s body was dragged through the streets and exhibited naked in photographs shared on social media.

On August 10, YJA STAR guerrilla Kevser Eltürk (Ekin Wan) died in a clash with Turkish security forces in the district of Varto, in Muş province of Turkey.

A photograph of a naked, tortured body began circulating on social media over the weekend, apparently originally shared by Varto police. Hamiyet Şahin, the provincial co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in Ekin’s native province of Van, helped wash Ekin Wan’s body for her funeral. She confirmed that the woman in the photographs was Ekin Wan.

“The person whose photograph is being shared on social media is the same as the woman guerrilla whose body we washed,” said Hamiyet. “I recognized it from the bullet wound in her buttocks and left leg; it was a deep wound.” Hamiyet described the signs of torture on Ekin’s body, including deep bruising on her neck and legs and torn skin. She also had bruises from a rope on her neck.

“There was probably a rope tied around her neck to drag her from somewhere far away, in order to display her,” said Hamiyet. She also noted that the autopsy seemed careless, with the stitches thrown at random, and that the person conducting the autopsy may not have paid much attention to the condition of Ekin’s body.

The governor in the province of Muş has confirmed in an indirect statement that the picture shared on social media depicts Ekin. The governor announced that it was not the police who tortured and exhibited the body who would be investigated, but those who shared the photographs on social media.

Guerrillas who took control of the town of Varto yesterday did so as retaliation for the killing of Ekin and the treatment of her body, reported BBC Turkish. The BBC report, which relied on local sources, said: “Armed people standing watch at trenches said that this action was in retaliation for the killing of a woman guerrilla, who a few days ago was killed by a special operations team in Varto, and whose naked body was exhibited in the press.”

Source:  www.Jinha.com.tr

Massacre in Sinjar, one year on: REPAK statement

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REPAK, the Kurdish Women’s Relations Office based in Erbil, has published this statement on the one year anniversary of the IS attack on Sinjar/Shengal, which led to a horrific massacre in which thousands of Yezidi people were killed, thousands taken into sexual slavery and many more thousands were displaced. 

To the press and public

Exactly one year ago, gangs of the so-called Islamic State (IS) tried to carry out genocide in the Southern Kurdish (Northern Iraqi), mostly by Yazidis inhabited city Shingal/Sinjar. On 3 August 2014, IS aimed to occupy Shingal by massacres and ethnic cleansing in the villages around. According to numbers of the UN, due to the massacres that started on 3 August, 5 thousand Kurdish Yazidis got killed, 7 thousand girls and women got kidnapped like trophies, enslaved by IS gangs and sold in slavery markets. Even though some of the women were able to escape, a lot of women committed suicide for escaping from this atrocity. But still thousands of women remain in the hands of IS.

Also according to the reports of international official institutions, while the Kurdish Regional Government’s Peshmerga forces that were stationed in Shingal, faced with the attacks of IS withdrew from the region. The guerrilla forces of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and People’s Defence Units (YPG) fighters from Rojava were able to open a humanitarian corridor to Rojava and by doing so to rescue ten thousands of Yazidis from genocide.

With the attacks that started on 3 August 2014, the IS gangs did not only aim to occupy Shingal and include it to their so-called controlled area. At the same time, they intended a physical and cultural genocide against Yazidis and a feminicide against Yazidi women. The Yazidis that in history have been faced with 73 genocides are one of the most ancient religions in the Middle East. Over centuries they resisted against powers, which tried to seize control. Mount Shingal, which in the eyes of the Yazidis is holy, has always been a shelter. By destroying this shelter, which is one of the last Yazidi centres, the genocide process against this ancient religion should be completed.

First target of these massacres have been women. Because those who committed these massacres well know that women are the resultants of all cultural codes of the Yazidi culture. By attacking women, a whole society should be destroyed. The killing of Yazidi girls and women, rape, kidnapping, enslaving, forced change of religion are concrete expressions of feminicide.

The IS attacks against Yazidis for genocide and occupation of Shingal are still continuing. But the Yazidis were also able to develop their self-defence and self-organisation for taking their existence under guarantee and by doing so, resist against continuing attacks. Also the women in Shingal a few days ago organised their first conference and established the Shingal Yazidi Women’s Council. For overcoming the continuing IS-threat on the Yazidis, support for their efforts for self-defence and organisation must be supported.  Nobody should allow another exodus of the Yazidis.

In this context international forces, especially the German government, should not develop ‘rehabilitation’ projects for Yazidi women, which would break them away from their homeland. Instead they should support projects in place. Projects that break Yazidi women away from their families, their society and their land will not serve healing the deep wounds, but create new ones and deepen social and cultural degeneration.

For being able to prevent new massacres, it is needed to investigate the massacres in Shingal with all its dimensions and bring the responsible out into the open. Only with a true confrontation and investigation of the happening, new massacres can be prevented.

In this connection, we make following urgent demands:
·        The UN should recognize the physical and cultural genocide against the Yazidi society in Shingal by IS and take necessary action

·        The UN should recognize the massacres, rape, kidnapping, suicides, forced change of religion and enslaving by IS against Yazidi as feminicide and take necessary action

·        The massacres in Shingal should be investigated by an independent delegation and the responsible should be clarified and judged

·        The support for IS by states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar should be investigated, the responsible judged by the International Criminal Court and these states should be sanctioned

·        Germany should abandon policies that break Yazidi women from their country and society away

·        International humanitarian organisations should support strengthening the self-help and self-organisation of the Yazidi society in Shingal

3 August 2015
Kurdish Women’s Relations Office

REPAK
Kurdish Women’s Relation Office
رێکخراووی پەیوەندییەکانی ئافرەتانی کورد
Navenda Pêwendiyan a Jinên Kurd
منظمة المرأة الكردية للعلاقات
+964 (0) 750 197 06 44
Erbil – Northern Iraq

Roj Women is Recruiting!

We are now recruiting a VAWG project leader (paid) and four female volunteers to work with us in providing culturally sensitive advice and psychological support for women from Kurdish and Turkish communities who face violence.

Click here for more information: VAWG project leader

As a sessional worker you will lead the VAWG project ‘For a life free of violence’. The project funded by Big Lottery Fund aims to provide integral services encompassing legal advice and advocacy as well as individual psychological counselling with a focus on women’s issue for victims of domestic violence, forced marriage or honour based violence.

Closing Date: Please submit CV, cover letter and equal opportunities form by 6 pm on 12th July 2015 to rojwomen@gmail.com. We appreciate the interest of all applicants, however only selected candidates will be contacted. Start date for this role is 3rd August 2015.

As an advice and support worker you will provide impartial advice and support to our clients on the options available as victims of violence, helping them find a safe place to stay, helping them with long-term issues such as housing, access to benefits and income generation, and informing them of the possible legal remedies and procedures, among other responsibilities.

As a counselor you will help users to explore feelings and emotions related to their experiences with violence. You will establish a relationship of trust and respect with clients, helping them towards a deeper understanding of their problems and to make choices regarding possible ways forward.

Click here for more information: Roj Women VAWG Volunteer posts

Closing Date: Please submit CV and cover letter by 5pm on Wednesday 1st August to rojwomen@gmail.com. Start date for this post will be 15th August.

Funded by:

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Call for participation: Building an exchange between women’s groups in order to prepare together the meeting on 1 July 2015

Solidarite Feministe Avec Kobane

Dear Friends,

Last October we first met in Paris and gathered our forces as feminists to support the women’s struggle in Kobanê. At first, we were united by the pressing need to make Kurdish female fighter’s voices heard in France and to let people know about their fight for women’s liberation. Following our first meeting, we wrote a text aimed at bringing together feminists from different tendencies around this solidarity project. In fact we consider that the strength of our collective lies in the fact that it is made of feminists who, while they have different perspectives on several topics, have stayed together to express their solidarity with the social and political project defended by Kurdish women.

Since the first meeting, we have agreed not to limit our work to public declaration of support. We were willing to act, not just to talk and, as a result, we decided to send a delegation to the Turkish border with the Rojava. In early November, eight women from our collective went to Northern Kurdistan and met with political leaders, elected officials, female refugees and women from the civil society. Once there, they saw the situation created by the war, as well as the strength of the organizations and the Kurdish people facing this very difficult social and economic situation. The forty pages long report we later wrote meant to reflect the extremely rich exchange that resulted from this dialogue between women.

Our will to share the messages of the women we met in Northern Kurdistan led us to participate in several public events. We were invited as a collective to radio programs and meetings organized by political parties. We were part of the protests and demonstrations in support of Kobanê. We organized events with other feminists. Lastly we wrote articles for several newspapers.

The struggle in Kobanê is now entering a new stage. The reconstruction of the canton is both a human and a political emergency. It is a human emergency because we know that thousands of people are currently living in an extremely bad economic and social situation. Thus, not only do we have to rebuild all the urban living areas, but we also have to address the needs of the population (in terms of food, health, education…). It is a political emergency because we know that obscurantist, imperialist and capitalist forces are today more that ever ready to stifle the social revolution happening in Kobanê.

For us, supporting the women in Kobanê means establishing a dialog between women that enables us to learn from each other’s experiences and to mutually reinforce one another. It is with this in mind that we want to support the effort of the Kurdish movement in general, and of the Kurdish women in particular, to build an anticapitalist, non-statist, ecological and feminist society. We would like to build a solidarity that respects Kurdish women’s autonomy, to forge an alliance based on the sharing of practices and on joint mobilisation.

From now on, our goal is to prepare the July 1st meeting by building a coordination between the women’s groups in Europe that are willing to get involved in the reconstruction project in solidarity with the Kurdish women. The preparation of this meeting by different women’s groups in Europe thus aims to foster a solidarity that will reinforce the Kurdish women in their project for the reconstruction of Kobanê.

For that purpose we invite you to join our initiative. We are currently developing a reconstruction project focused on the Kobanê women’s needs and expectations. We will send you the first draft of the project around June 10th. This draft will be written by our collective working closely with the Kurdish women in Europe and in Kobanê. They are the subject of the reconstruction and we would like to make sure that their autonomy is respected at every step of the way. After June 10th, once you will have received the project, we invite you to collectively look into this to let us know :

– Which knowledge and practices can you mobilize for this project?

– How does it resonate with your own political experiences?

– What forms of social mobilisations would you like to build around this project?

We will need you to send us your answers on June 20th so that we can rework the project based on your answers. That way, we should be able to return a new working paper to you, one that takes into account your answers.Thus we ask you to start planning now your working meeting. It should take place between June 10th and 20th, so that you’ll have time to discuss the document we will send you and to share your thoughts with us. Feel free to contact us by emails as of now to exchange, to meet us and to know more about the proposed initiative.

Rojava is liberated, the women’s struggle continues !

The struggle will continue until women’s liberation in all areas of society!

Collectif Solidarité Féministe avec Kobanê

Contact : solidaritefemmeskobane@gmail.com

3-5 April- Dissecting Capitalist Modernity – Building Democratic Confederalism

On 3-5 April, a conference will be held in Hamburg University called Dissecting Capitalist Modernity – Building Democratic Confederalism, registration is now open to all.

This follows the last successful conference in 2012 when hundreds of students, intellectuals and activists came together for three days to discuss perspectives to overcome the current, crisis-struck system of capitalist modernity and the ideas of the Kurdish freedom movement and others on this topic. This year, featured speakers include Havin Guneser; Prof David Harvey (US), Prof David Graeber (UK),  Prof. John Holloway (Mexico), PYD Co-Chair Asya Abdullah (Rojava/Northern Syria),  Dr. Ahmad Yousef (Rojava/Northern Syria), HDP MP Selma Irmak (Northern Kurdistan/Turkey), Prof. Elmar Altvater (Germany), Janet Biehl (US) und Demetrios Rossopoulos (Canada) and Dr Radha D’Souza (India/UK).

You can find out more about the conference here: http://networkaq.net/

You will find details of how to register in the letter of invitation: http://networkaq.net/2015/General_Invitation_2015_Conference.pdf

THURSDAY 12TH MARCH- NEWROZ RECEPTION AT LGA (GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY)

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Address: The GLA, Committee Room 4, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

Hosted by Roj Women’s Association & Kurdistan National Congress with Osman Baydemir (former HDP-Mayor of Diyarbakir)

Roj Women’s Association & Kurdistan National Congress  would like to cordially invite you to a reception to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year festival. The reception will take place in Committee Room 4, City Hall-Greater London Authority on Thursday 12th March between 6.00pm and 9.00pm and will be hosted by Roj Women’s Association and Kurdish National Congress. Food and drinks will be provided and there will also be an opportunity to enjoy traditional Kurdish music and dance.

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22 FEB- Victory in Kobane: What next in the Rojava Revolution?

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At mid-afternoon on 15 September 2014, the foreign minister of Kobane, Omer Mus, received a call from a UN official stating that Turkey was prepared to take in 40,000 refugees crossing the border from Kobane. Hours later, ISIS began attacking the city from all three sides and the YPG and YPJ forces began a massive evacuation of tens of thousands of villagers. Those that remained took part in a historic defence of their city, which, had it not been successful, could have had disastrous consequences for the people of the region.

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Revolution in Rojava transformed the perception of women in the society

Begum Acar from Socialist Feminist Collective interviewed Ayşe Tekağaç from Roj Women, about the lately published report of Roj Women conducted last September.

You interviewed people, mostly Ezidis living in Newroz Camp (North Syria) which was established in August. What did you aim in this report?

The main aim of the research was to document the situation and the needs of the Ezidi people who sought refuge in Rojava, who were attacked and forced to flee their homes by ISIS. Straight after the attacks in August Roj Women made contacts with the women’s organisations in Rojava, who particularly highlighted the lack of research and evidence documenting the situation of the Ezidi’s in Rojava. We are well aware that women especially become vulnerable in war torn, conflict areas, Roj Women took on this fact-finding mission and conducted a gender based field research.

How many people have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2014?

There are no concrete figures, and it is impossible to establish precisely how many, the numbers fluctuate constantly, and families are often on the move. The official figures which were declared back in September 2014 is estimated around 500,000 displaced people settling in camps in South Kurdistan (KRG region) and tens of thousands more in refugees crossing the border into Rojava, Syria, the self-administered region of North East Syria.

Whom did you talk to and which method you preferred to use?

The report contains two parts, part one is about the perceived needs of the Ezidi women and men who were interviewed, we used the HESPER method, and this is a needs assessment which identified the perceived needs of the people living in Newroz camp. After establishing 110 tents through a random selection, we visited each one and spoke to the respondents face to face. The fieldwork team completed 101 interviews. The second part is a situational analysis of the Rojava women’s organisations and institutions we visited, for which we examined their activities and capabilities on addressing gender based violence. The second part aimed to address the main gender based violence issues that might arise for the new refugees in Rojava and record the existing activities and supports for the migrant and displaced women. We also conducted 4 in-depth interviews with Ezidi people from the camp in relation to the attacks they had experienced.

“Rescued women risk suicide and social isolation”

What are the main problems of the displaced women? What do they think about Rojava, under protection of YPG/ YPJ? 

The members of the women’s organisations raised serious concerns for the displaced Ezidi women. It was indicated that honour-based traditions and religious rules regarding virginity and marriage are practiced; and women rescued from the attacks/ kidnapping, risk suicide, and societal isolation when they return. For example, it would not be generally acceptable for women/ girls to travel away from their families and due to this, women’s organisations had plans to bring training within the campsites. A large majority of the Ezidi community said safety was not a problem where they are now under the protection of YPG/YPJ.

Are there any women joining Women‘s Protection Unit/ YPJ after the attack?

We were told that some young Ezidi women have joined the ranks of YPJ after the attacks and these numbers have increased since. Some Ezidi women and girls have chosen to remain with YPJ -Women’s Protection Unit, and had called their families to say to ‘forget’ them and that they have joined armed resistance.

What is the situation about kidnapped women? What do people tell you about them? What happens if they are rescued?

In the interviews this was one of the most mentioned serious problems, which led us to carry out in-depth interview with 4 respondents.  The respondents underlined that one of the main reasons to flee their homes is related to women’s honour, and those kidnapped women was taken as a prize of war. When we asked about the return of the kidnapped women and how the Ezidi community would treat this, they said the Ezidi community want the women to be returned; however it would not be possible for those women to marry and have a family, and they were worried about the women victims who may commit suicide and mentioned that it is likely that those women would face societal isolation. When we spoke to a member of the women’s organisations she said most if not all of the established women’s organisations in Roajava had the kidnapped women on their agenda. The women movement in Rojava refuse to adhere to society’s rigid rules of womanhood. So, with this in mind, those women who return as well as the refugee Ezidi women in Rojava, they will carry out trainings, activities and educational approaches to tackle the prevalent patriarchal systems within communities and in the region.

“Most of the camp administration consists of female staff”

What are the examples of male violence in the camp? Is there any specific work carried out against this violence? 

The HESPER interviews include a question on safety and protection of women from violence a large majority stated that violence for women is not a serious problem. Most did mention that in their former lives before the attacks that this was a serious problem. This research was conducted on the first few weeks of the Newroz camp being formed, and a second visit to further this research would provide more information on the subject. Also, the camp administration includes women members from Kurdish women movement and Asayiş (local women security forces) members, and most of the camp administration consists of female staff. The majority of women we spoke to, when asked about security, were aware of whom and where to go to should they have any issue.

What is the population rate of women in the camp? What kind of gender-based services are needed?

According to UNHCR, total number of female count in the camp is 1782, the population figures are fluctuating and at the time of our visit 20 families were placed into homes in nearby towns. Newroz camp was newly established in August 2014 and had very limited capacity for addressing gender based violence issues at the time of our visit. However, the local women’s organisations indicated that they will provide gender based violence prevention services.

Are there any women‘s organizations from Rojava to provide psychological & social support for women in the camp?

We were only able to visit 7 out of the 27 established women’s organisations in Rojava, the Women’s Foundation was one of those and it is one of the leading organisation for providing psychosocial services; they have a 24 hour line on call service. They provide supportive counselling and case management of survivor. They advocate for the needs of survivor to family members and other agencies. They were one of the organisations that provided immediate support to the camp and made campsite visits at the beginning of the camp construction. During our interview they mentioned that they are extending their services to the women in the camps.

In the report, you also talk about women‘s organizations established in Rojava since the revolution. What are the main fields they work in? What are the changes in the society as a result of women‘s struggle?

The system of women’s organisations has been established since the start of the revolution and is under constant revision. These organisations are funded and run by volunteer member who may share the cost of communal spaces/ offices in order to carry out their work. The organisations provide a variety of services including gender based violence assessment and support, family mediation, legal support, safe houses for women and children, support for the wives and families of martyrs, personal economic and social empowerment programmes.

Some women’s organisation members also mentioned that the fact that these communities witness women leading armed forces, commanding, taking active role in protecting their people and lands has inevitably played a role in transforming their views and perception of women. When we asked the respondents about violence against women within the camp, most of the response we received which were with little hesitation was that it was not an issue since arriving into Rojava, one woman commented she was now more able to talk about the issues women face.

What is the recent situation in the camp under winter conditions? What about international solidarity?  What is the way to send anything needed?

Support and solidarity from all over the world is being received; however, resources are limited by the economic conditions of the self-administered areas and the lack of recognition of the self-administered government under international law. Funds and aid is often delivered through organisations from Kurdish regions of Turkey. However, there is a need for a stronger international activism and solidarity across different sectors of women’s organisations, civil society’s, NGO’s and governments, this is particularly vital for the missing Ezidi women.

Individuals and women’s organisations can do whatever they can in their power to support the people in Rojava, different campaigns are taking place to mention a few:

Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor a Kurdistane)

The UN predicts that many vulnerable people may not survive the winter unless more aid money can be raised. Heyva Sor a Kurdistane, formed in 1993, is the main charity supporting Kurdish refugees, where UN and other agencies have no presence. The temperature is already below freezing and more suitable tents, sheltering containers and heaters are urgently needed, along with more food and medical supplies. Heyva Sor needs donations from the international community to help these refugees and those still stuck in Kobane survive winter.

Donate using Paypal at: http://www.heyvasor.org.uk

Or donate using JustGiving: www.justgiving.com/heyvasor

Or donate using sms: to donate £5, text KURD78 £5 to 70070 to donate £10, text KURD50 £10 to 70070

-Roj Women is currently re-constructing its website www.rojwomen.org to include a donation page where funds will be dedicated to the women’s organisations in Rojava, this will become live by 15 February and contain further details on how funds will reach the organisations and how it is to be used.

Source:  http://sosyalistfeministkolektif.org/english/928-revolution-in-rojava-transformed-the-perception-of-women-in-the-society.html