After describing her struggle as a journalist, presenting a few of her artistic creations, putting forth her persistence and her courage during exchanges and multiple meetings in the past two weeks, talking some more about Zehra Doğan takes on the appearance of an appeal.

Beyond its shock to the eyes and heart of visitors, the book that traveled and will keep on travelling with the exhibition of some fifty of her works is sufficient to understand that we are dealing here with a fighter, one dedicated to life, not to the morbid.

Zehra loves the men and the women whose calvary and suffering she documents with newspapers smeared in red. She speaks of her own flesh, of the wounds inflicted to her childhood and to the lives of her people, lives assaulted or cut short… And from this unspeakable, presented in « frames », often simply through the eyes of woemn or children looking out at us, a journalist’s word emerges, like a scream on newspaper…

Yes, I also know how to write pretty words that pull us away from reality for a while and from all the guilt it engenders here, inasmuch as empathy still exists among our attributes as consumers.

We encountered this empathy, shared it, gave birth to it during the ten days or so with nothing but some twenty works, a book and a few videos presented to a large audience, in keeping with a cinema festival in Douarnenez, on the theme of « frontiers » this year.

Zehra Doğan

This empathy, we attempted to transform into a raising of consciousness, a desire to understand, far from all the ready-made speeches about a Turkey « we don’t want in Europe ».

With nothing but her twenty-eight years, Zehra Doğan symbolizes and represents something quite different from the pathetic debates among the well-to-do in their cocoons. In fact, she leads us to a rethinking of the role played during these last two decades by this beautiful Europe, now entangled in its migratory deals, in the rise to power of the butcher of the Kurds, as nationalistic as were his predecessors.

Zehra is a journalist. She reconciles me with that name and gives it meaning. She is a woman, aware of the stakes emancipation represents in a world where patriarchy uses religiosity as an excuse for its empowerment. Aware that defending a culture, its dialogue with other cultures, is not separate from these questions of « feminism » that give her the invincible conviction that she will win. For her, journalism is a matter of flesh and blood, and not a balancing act in which « objectivity » means scales kept equal on both sides. Informing and inciting understanding is acting.

She could not build a « career » because she is Kurdish in Turkey, because she is a Kurdish woman in dominant turkicity, and, stupidly, because she is not a « card-bearer ». If she was always borderless, she was not always considered a « reporter » because she was born in a region far from the terraces on the Bosphorus.

The Metin Göktepe prize awarded to a journalist for whom Yazidi women are not only an opportunity for murky pathos but allow the raising of questions bothersome at the political and human level, even between Kurds in the region, demonstrates the freedom with which she approaches her topics.

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Now she builds her « career » in jail.

“Perhaps I was meant to find myself there, » she says, « since this is where many of us are », and – I would add – where Turkey’s political future lives.

She was released from her 141 days in custody strengthened in her determination, and big with an exhibition – that of her « prison works » in Amed.

(English subtitles – clic on the gear icon to choose the language)

She then created like never before during her quasi clandestine waiting period, producing these escaped works that Kedistan will show in the months and the years to come with, we hope, a widening of support and of associative and humanistic links we will incite everywhere.

She was « caught again » in June.

She is now re-incarcerated for 2 years and 9 months… Deprived of drawing and painting materials doesn’t stop her from using whatever pigments and paper she can lay her hands on. She is thinking of a book that would document the political path of her companions in the high security quarters of Diyarbakır…

Yes, I dare to write it, in his day Yılmaz Güney brought attention to the Kurdish cause though hundreds of manifestos, though his cinematographic work, his narratives, his images, but also by his words every time an occasion arose… By her art, her strength as a journalist, her lucidity and her courage, the kid (this is what she is to me, by her smile and by the years that separate us) shares some of this same capacity to communicate around her as had her elder who was awarded a prize in Cannes for a film that sent shivers down your spine.

And if my words bother some « restrictive ones » for whom tenderness and politics are enemies, too bad for them.

I want to talk about the hours of the victims of Nation-States and also consider that they are not virtual but human. If I didn’t, what would I be doing here in front of a keyboard, speaking of an emotion that will, I’m sure, open minds everywhere it will go, raise questions, comprehension and mobilization, much more than would meetings in small committees to recite mantras on the Kurdish people’s struggle and record them in invisible ink.

Zehra Doğan must be freed.

For now, protecting her is the most important requirement. Making known what she represents, a necessity.

Considering this battle as political as words blowing in the wind is fundamental, because it speaks of a life promised to a future, as are the political proposals of the Kurdish movement. Kedistan will work at it and, I’m sure, will do so with you…

And damn ! Do we always have to justify ourselves ? Why don’t you take a look at the A heading this website…Who knows, perhaps the first French letter to the word for Love (Amour) that a Léo Ferré used to rhyme so well with…
To be continued…

Zehra Dogan

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
In French : Dix jours avec Zehra Doğan et ses œuvres évadées

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Daniel Fleury
Lettres modernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots politiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…