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JINHA is a fem­i­nist news agency whose con­trib­u­tors are all women. A world-wide pre­miere. “Jin” means woman in Kur­dish. Jin fol­lowed by an H for haber (infor­ma­tion) and A pour ajan­sı (agency). An inter­view with Zehra.

We want­ed to know about JINHA. So we inter­viewed Zehra Doğan, one of JIN­HA’s jour­nal­ists work­ing under bul­lets and bombs in Kur­dish towns placed under cur­few over the past few days. Zehra answered our ques­tions from Nusay­bin. We knew her from the Istan­bul office but with her ‘joie de vivre’, her enthu­si­asm as a jour­nal­ist and her wom­an’s heart, she was known by all as the eyes, ears and voice of her peo­ple. Cam­era in hand, she is fol­low­ing the tracks through through towns and vil­lages, of streets that smell of fire, gun­pow­der and blood. One day in Cizre, anoth­er in Nusaybin…

Zehra Doğan is the jour­nal­ist daugh­ter of a peo­ple messed up par decades of block­ades, dis­ap­pear­ances dur­ing cus­tody, deaths under tor­ture, mas­sacres, exe­cu­tions by gun­fire and bombings.

How can one be a woman jour­nal­ist work­ing for a news agency that begins in Istan­bul, Amed, Van and stretch­es all the way to Roja­va? What do the “5N” of jour­nal­ism rep­re­sent for Zehra (Ne, Nerede, Ne zaman, Neden, Nasıl: What/Who, Where, When, Why, How)? What is the dai­ly real­i­ty of a jour­nal­ist’s job under her dou­ble iden­ti­ty of woman and Kurd?

We dis­cussed all that with Zehra.

Sadık Çelik – Mer­ha­ba Zehra! In solidarity,friendship and broth­er­hood from the Notre Dame des Lan­des ZAD in France...

Let’s begin by JINHA… Can you sum­ma­rize JIN­HA’s sto­ry for us? Along with your own sto­ry at the agency, of course…

logo-JINHa-agence-femmes-kurdeZehra: JINHA is an alter­na­tive voice agency, an oppo­si­tion media with a pro­gres­sist lan­guage and vision com­pared to media who work with a State vision and with a patri­ar­chal lan­guage, but as a descrip­tion, all that is insuf­fi­cient nonethe­less. To sum­ma­rize, JINHA is an agency that was cre­at­ed as an alter­na­tive to the alter­na­tive, of which we are mem­bers, all of us being women, from the jour­nal­ist, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, the edi­tor, the desk edi­tor, the office staff. It is an agency found­ed by Kur­dish women but in which women of dif­fer­ent peo­ples now par­tic­i­pate, such as Arme­ni­ans, Syr­i­acs, Arabs, Turks, Mace­do­nians. It has offices in sev­er­al towns in Roja­va, begin­ning with Kobanê, now the cen­ter of the resis­tance, but also in As-Sulay­maniya in Irak, and in sev­er­al oth­er towns in Turkey. 

As for my own sto­ry, I have been part of JINHA from day one. I want­ed to be part of it because I con­sid­ered it was an excel­lent way to inform by exam­in­ing the news “through the out­looks of women”. 

Sadık : JINHA is a Kur­dish wom­en’s agency and so, nat­u­ral­ly, its par­tic­i­pants are women. How do you go about this dif­fi­cult job, with your dou­ble iden­ti­ty, both Kur­dish and woman? 

Zehra : I am indeed Kur­dish, which in a coun­try such as Turkey, means being part of iden­ti­ties con­sid­ered as “oth­ers”. It is very dif­fi­cult to work in the sec­tor of “free media” with lim­it­ed lib­er­ties, while strug­gling for my iden­ti­ty, when it is so hard being a woman in this coun­try where the exploita­tion of women is per­ma­nent and encour­aged by law. Mur­ders of women are encour­aged by the judi­cial system. 

For exam­ple, in the regions where auton­o­my was declared, we fol­low events close­ly, always with our vision of infor­ma­tion focus­ing on women, begin­ning with women lead­ing the resis­tance, the vio­la­tions of rights, mar­tial law, while liv­ing all of this per­son­al­ly. We are con­stant­ly faced with sex­ist insults, arrests, all the way to armed threats. Not a sin­gle day goes by with­out vio­lence. Despite all that, I think that I am posi­tioned in the right place to con­tribute in chang­ing the per­cep­tion of “Woman” glued to the brain of the State and of men. The fact of liv­ing through this while tes­ti­fy­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the real­i­ty of a geno­ci­dal pol­i­cy and of the vio­la­tions of rights inflict­ed to the peo­ple, and of doing this as a woman, con­tributes at the right time and place in chang­ing this per­cep­tion of women.


Sadık :  I believe you work area isn’t lim­it­ed. Where do you work geo­graph­i­cal­ly, in gen­er­al, and what is your work method? 

Zehra : Our ter­ri­to­ry is nev­er very defined. Right now, I am in Nusay­bin. Dur­ing the sum­mer months, I was in Cizre, under cur­few. I worked in Dargeçit, Derik, Sin­jar, Roja­va and oth­er con­fronta­tion zones.We move around depend­ing on events and emergencies. 

Sadık : What kind of prob­lems do you encounter? 

Zehra : I can say that we total­ly expe­ri­ence State oppres­sion. Insults, cus­tody, arrests and, since the towns are under cur­few, we find our­selves in the neigh­bor­hoods where most of the con­fronta­tions occur, we expe­ri­ence all the same prob­lems as those of the pop­u­la­tions you fol­low and know about. 

Sadık : How do you orga­nize to meet the needs of your work, such as trans­porta­tion, food, lodging? 

Zehra : Our agency func­tions thanks to sub­scrip­tions. As stat­ed in the indict­ment for the arrest of the May­or of Suruç, “mon­ey trans­fer for the so-called JINHA agency”, we are in State’s line of sight.  The may­ors are our sub­scribers and in any event the city halls have a right to sub­scribe to news agen­cies. But when they are Kur­dish may­oral­ties deal­ing with a Kur­dish agency, it becomes a prob­lem. The sub­crip­tions of sev­er­al may­oral­ties were sus­pend­ed. Despite this, we won’t give up as JINHA. In the zones where the resis­tance has declared its auton­o­my, as you know, mon­ey does not work. In the Peo­ple’s House, the debt is one of the heart. We con­tin­ue our jour­nal­ism based on those relationships. 

Sadık : What do you think of the cut-and-paste jour­nal­ism of the TRT? [the Turk­ish   tele­vi­sion at the ser­vice of the State)

zahra -dogan-camera-jinha zehraZehra : To me, the jour­nal­ism at TRT goes beyond “cut and paste”. As you know, and the last doc­u­ment proves it, they can no longer pro­vide infor­ma­tion with­out the State’s approval, and out­side the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by it. More­over, the per­sons mas­sa­cred by the State are announced as hav­ing been mas­sa­cred by oth­ers. Also, the major­i­ty of those mas­sa­cred – includ­ing three-month old babies – are declared to be “ter­ror­ists”. We are fight­ing against a media with no vision, lack­ing in both qual­i­ty and pres­tige. As long as they will exist, we will con­tin­ue, even if we have noth­ing to eat, noth­ing to drink. 

In con­clu­sion…

I have wit­nessed sev­er­al sto­ries of vio­lence. From that of Muğ­dat Ay who was 12 years old, mas­sa­cred in Nusay­bin, to that of Tahir Yaran­mış in Cizre, who was 35 days old, we have tes­ti­fied about a num­ber of sav­age acts. We wit­nessed the bur­ial of Mehmet Emin Lok­man, killed in the Nur neigh­bor­hood in Cizre before his moth­er’s eyes, who could­n’t reach her son’s body while the attacks con­tin­ued. We have to film decom­posed corpses in the court­yard of the mosque. For exam­ple, despite the tes­ti­mo­ny we filed regard­ing the con­di­tions of the mas­sacre of Muğ­dat Ay, the allied media did not hes­i­tate in announc­ing it as « terrorist ».

To see that, to find our­selves faced with that kind of jour­nal­ism turns our stomachs. 

As for my draw­ings… At times, the cam­era and pho­tos aren’t enough. I draw for those moments when those means are insuf­fi­cient. I intend to pub­lish my draw­ings as a graph­ic nov­el, in a short while. 

Sadık : To wit­ness His­to­ry in a dif­fi­cult region that smells of death, as a per­son with three iden­ti­ties, jour­nal­ist, Kurd and woman, requires courage and persistence. 

With respect for all the Zehras.

*We will pub­lish Zehra’s draw­ings in a forth­com­ing arti­cle.

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Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
Translation & writing by Kedistan. You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
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Sadık Çelik
REDACTION | Journaliste 
Pho­tographe activiste, lib­er­taire, habi­tant de la ZAD Nddl et d’ailleurs. Aktivist fotoğrafçı, lib­ert­er, Notre Dame de Lan­des otonom ZAD böl­gesinde yaşıy­or, ve diğer otonom bölge ve mekan­lar­da bulunuyor.