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This arti­cle was pub­lished on June 4th 2019 on the web­site of Yeni Özgür Poli­ti­ka. Yeni Özgür Poli­ti­ka being unavail­able with­in Turkey, Kedis­tan is act­ing as relay, includ­ing for the Turk­ish ver­sion, in sol­i­dar­i­ty and with  kind per­mis­sion of the paper,  so as to give this arti­cle as wide a read­er­ship as possible.

Women, resistance and “what is left behind”

She first became known through her report­ing done with a wom­an’s acu­ity. Short­ly there­after, we start­ed see­ing her draw­ings. In them she told things through anoth­er lan­guage, with oth­er col­ors. In what she drew, there co-habi­tat­ed both a form of nos­tal­gia and a sense of redis­cov­ery. No need to know any­thing about art. While attempt­ing to give mean­ing to these strokes – and no doubt because we are from a peo­ple ren­dered mute – we could­n’t rid our­selves of the impres­sion that these works had come through a dif­fi­cult jour­ney. The vic­to­ry of reach­ing us by destroy­ing the walls of pris­ons was embroi­dered in every stroke.

When women want it, when they decide to car­ry out their aspi­ra­tions, the whole world expe­ri­ences the con­trac­tions of a birthing. Lat­er, lis­ten­ing to Zehra on Jin TV, we became con­vinced that she had a heart that took on the jail resis­tances, the tes­ti­mo­ny of Moth­er Sisê, the denun­ci­a­tions of fascis­tic prac­tices, and that she took on this painful action as her own, liv­ing through the birthing in per­pe­tu­ity. She had thus decid­ed to give birth and no wall, includ­ing the walls of jails, could stop her.

She wrote, she drew in prison. She nour­ished through what she cre­at­ed those who knew her, who took inter­est in her. With every­thing she could lay her hands on, she told the tale of her con­cerns, of her heart and of those hearts she touched. Through her, we  dis­cov­ered the real­i­ty of the fact that prison walls can­not impede, that prison walls can­not stop a true artist. We wit­nessed the fact that fas­cism could not reach the artist.

Zehra Doğan’s exhi­bi­tion ran before my eyes as I was read­ing Arif Altan’s words describ­ing the exca­va­tion trucks dump­ing the entire neigh­bor­hood of Sur into the Tiger. She called the exhi­bi­tion “Left behind” and in it, she told the leg­endary tale of the resis­tance for self-gov­ern­ment, three years ago.  Left behind after this his­tor­i­cal resis­tance, there is her soul, per­sist­ing in the name of free­dom in reveal­ing the true face of fas­cism, but also the states of incom­plete­ness, the mis­takes the absences of beings. What did these three years cause? Who did what dur­ing these three years? Who was where, in the resis­tance, and where are they today?

Çiyager, Nucan and all the ones who, with the spir­it of free­dom and the forms of strug­gle they cre­at­ed dur­ing the resis­tance deserve the name of “21st cen­tu­ry Egîd1left us with an under­stand­ing inspired by the Paris Com­mune and  even going beyond it.

Even objects are tools of resistance

What is left behind” says Zehra Doğan. Some might ask “What could be left behind?”. An exhi­bi­tion that shows objects trans­formed into tools of resis­tance in the name of existence.

We asked our­selves then and still ask our­selves now: what could be more sacred than a peo­ple that resists with its blan­kets, its rugs, its kil­ims, its plates and spoons, who car­ries all its pos­ses­sions on its back and who stands by the side of those young brave ones who died for it?

Telling today of the resis­tance in Sur, in Cizre is as sacred as the resis­tance itself. Zehra Doğan endeav­ours to tes­ti­fy. She shows courage, she offers her own chest as a shield and express­es real­i­ty through art. We expe­ri­ence this even more deeply because of the courage devel­opped in telling of the resis­tance to which the world remained deaf.

Telling people about the pain

Thus, Zehra saw what was left and she want­ed to show what she had seen. How right she was.

Undoubt­ed­ly, “what is left behind” tells about resis­tance as well as about pain. We are in a strug­gle for exis­tence, fac­ing an unfeel­ing geno­ci­dal sys­tem that negates the fact that we may suf­fer, even if we are one of the world’s his­tor­i­cal peo­ples. Kurds are con­sid­ered as non-exis­tent. There­fore, they can­not suf­fer? Some­times, they are treat­ed, at best, like use­less objects.

Even today, in the past week, we have wit­nessed tor­ture in Haifeti in the province of Urfa… While even ani­mals vic­tims of the vio­lence occu­py the Turk­ish media for days, the blind­ness and deaf­ness con­cern­ing to what the Kurds are sub­ject­ed is noth­ing but the insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of the geno­ci­dal system.

In such peri­ods, the efforts of an artist to tell all of human­i­ty about the suf­fer­ing of the Kurds shows us her most human side. It isn’t pos­si­ble for a per­son not hav­ing lived the resis­tance and expe­ri­enced its suf­fer­ing to retrans­mit it this way. This is where Zehra Doğan’s resis­tance, her exhi­bi­tion trans­mit­ting her tes­ti­mo­ny, takes on its full meaning.

At a time when the val­ue of a human being is mer­chan­dized, pre­serv­ing these frag­ments of life touched by a Çigay­er, a Nucan, direc­ty from the heart of the resis­tance, and bring­ing them to light, is the lan­guage of real­i­ty that becomes this woman so well.

That is pre­cise­ly why Zehra Doğan is a true artist. A woman who, by her words, by her col­ors, by her heart, endeav­ours  to study the human sen­sa­tions in the world, on which she looks with her wom­an­ly sensibility.

She must draw on the walls of Kobanê

Zehra should pur­sue her tes­ti­mo­ny of resis­tance. She will tell of the resis­tance and car­ry every­thing she sees before the eyes of the world. She must write these sto­ries of resis­tance and nev­er cease to tell the world of her search for testimony.

She will also tell of  the resis­tance of Kobanê, cross­ing coun­try bor­ders in the same way she man­aged to come through prison walls. She must draw Arin on the walls of Kobanê. She must draw Barin, Revana, Gel­hat… She must draw Yıl­maz, one of the young brave ones in the Sur resis­tance, on the walls of Kobanê where he fought before Sur. She must add her own col­or on the mix of col­ors of the Bakur resis­tance and that of the rev­o­lu­tion in Rojava.

She must not for­get, and she must ensure that noth­ing is for­got­ten. Free Kur­dis­tan needs the touch­es of artis­tic resis­tance. Thanks be to her hands, to her work, to her heart.

Dilzar Dîlok

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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