Havrin Kha­laf (Xelef) was 35 years old. She was Kur­dish. Her com­mit­ment to women in North­ern Syr­ia, in Roja­va, was constant.

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Islamist mer­ce­nar­ies took advan­tage of the Turk­ish inva­sion to mur­der her in par­tic­u­lar­ly hor­ri­ble and degrad­ing con­di­tions. It is one of the many war crimes accom­pa­ny­ing the assault of Turk­ish forces and its Jihadist back-ups, com­bined with an averred feminicide.

May homage be ren­dered to this woman who, along with many oth­ers, labored in this part of the Mid­dle East for the cause of women, democ­ra­cy and peace.

Havrin Kha­laf’s fight took her to the Mus­lim women in Roja­va. She defend­ed a mod­el of man-woman equal­i­ty. In this region where the tribes con­tin­ue to pro­vide a mod­el of social orga­ni­za­tion respect­ed by the Arab peo­ples, she had fur­thered resis­tance against the patri­archy among the women, many of whom had been sub­ject­ed to it even more than before with ISIS devel­op­ing its mur­der­ous ideology.

She was also a polit­i­cal activist, co-pre­sid­ing with an Arab man the “Future of Syr­ia” Par­ty, and a mem­ber of the direc­torate of the Syr­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coun­cil, formed in 2014, after the re-con­quest of Kobanê where the women fight­ers gave a bril­liant demon­stra­tion of their abil­i­ty in push­ing back the Jihadists. Fol­low­ing the procla­ma­tion of a Kur­dish, Arab and Assyr­i­an fed­er­al direc­tion in Roja­va  in North­ern Syr­ia in 2016, she was thus one of the women who toiled so that women could han­dle, in equal mea­sure with men, all the respon­si­bil­i­ties for the con­struc­tion of an open demo­c­ra­t­ic process.

She fought for plu­ral­ism, the alliance between Kurds, Arabs, Turk­mens, whether Mus­lim, Chris­t­ian or Yazi­di. For her, the fight was the same against Bachar El-Assad’s regime and against the Islam­ic State. The fight against patri­archy con­sti­tut­ed its cement.

By the igno­ble mur­der of Havrin Kha­laf, by the furi­ous attacks against her body, Jihadists want­ed to kill both the woman and the ideas ani­mat­ing her. No one will believe in the chance occur­rence of this war crime, per­pe­trat­ed as soon as was announced the Turk­ish inva­sion and the Amer­i­can withdrawal.

The assas­sins thought this crime would go unno­ticed in the chaos cre­at­ed by the Turk­ish offen­sive, with its bomb­ings and tens of thou­sands of dis­placed per­sons (160 000, cur­rent­ly, accord­ing to the UN). And, indeed, it is only after the trib­ute she received at her bur­ial that infor­ma­tion became more pre­cise and that some inter­na­tion­al media took inter­est in it. To our aston­ish­ment – and we won­dered about this – even the Kur­dish net­works at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, undoubt­ed­ly sub­merged by the seri­ous­ness of the attacks, had not giv­en this mur­der its real impor­tance, and the sym­bol­ic force it revealed.

Indeed, on the same day, oth­er war crimes were com­mit­ted in the same area, often filmed by their authors, Syr­i­an back-up troops to the Turk­ish army (“Ahrar al-Shar­qieah”) in the fore­front of the attack. These videos are in cir­cu­la­tion and con­sti­tute as many proofs of the atroc­i­ties that were com­mit­ted and of the ones to come, so much do they merge with the oth­ers com­mit­ted in this war zone in the past five years.  In fact one the per­pe­tra­tors on these videos has been iden­ti­fied as an Islamist recy­cled by the Turk­ish forces under the guise of the so-called Nation­al Syr­i­an Army… And this is why the Islam-nation­al­ist Turk­ish rag Yeni Şafak wrote on Sun­day the 13th: “Fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful oper­a­tion, the Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al of the Future of Syr­ia Par­ty, linked to the ter­ror­ist PYD par­ty, can no longer cause any harm.”

We wished to pay trib­ute to a civil­ian fight­er for peace, a tire­less activist for the cause of women, and a diplo­mat well-known  by sev­er­al Euro­pean leaders.

 P.S. A dec­la­ra­tion has just come from Gene­va stat­ing that Turkey may be held respon­si­ble for the war crimes com­mit­ted by its acknowl­edged armed back-up troops.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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