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.

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

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…