On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, tribute was paid to Havrin Khalaf. A tribute made of words of love and colors.

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None of us knew you.

We didn’t even know your name until we read it in the newspapers on the floor here in front of us, informing us of the martyrdom to which you were subjected on a deserted and rocky road in Syria.

We learned that you were 35 years old, that you were studying to become an engineer, to learn languages and to pursue your commitment to the political battle for your people’s rights, as the Secretary of a small Party with an evocative and daring name: “The Party for the future Syria”.

A cultured, passionate, generous woman with a beautiful delicate face, a gaze both soft and aware, this is how we saw you on the photos published in the newspapers, in which you looked everyone straight in the eyes, just like the women in Zehra’s works.

We didn’t know you but learning of your being massacred, we felt a pain as if we had always known you. We had the feeling that the world was turning darker and more obscure.

Your martyrdom evoked in us the anguish of the countless martyrs in former and current history, both the known and the unknown ones.

Today, we are here for you (and for your orphaned mother if only we manage to reach her some day) we are here for ourselves. We have the opportunity of being able to meet around an exceptional young woman from your people, one who shares the same history of testimonials and passionate defence of your and her Kurdish people, of women and minorities, the same calling to martyrdom, understood as the openness to sacrifice as a means of testifying.

We thank the men who are here with us and who share our feelings, and who have accepted to step back to allow us women a physical and moral space around Zehra. We are here huddling close around her, not in order to exclude anyone but in order to give affirmation of our femininity against those who wish to gash with stones the fact of being a woman, a free and strong one. We do not feel fragile or powerless as you found yourself on that desolate land where you remained defenceless, facing the most barbaric violence. But at the same time we feel imbued with your strength, free with your freedom, passionate with your passion for just and good causes, brave with your courage, beautiful with your beauty and, mostly as participants in this vocation to life and regenerative love, the most powerful antidote against violence and oppression, in Turkey, in Italy and everywhere in the world.

Thank you Havrin, for illuminating the world scene with your grace. Your name will remain engraved in our hearts.

Thank you Zehra for being with us today, to help us grieve with the redemptive power of art, by transforming these pages that brought us the tragic news into a powerful message of love and sharing.

Francesca Bazoli
President of the Brescia Museum Foundation
Santa Giulia Museum, Brescia, on November 25 2019, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

zehra dogan havrin khalaf brescia

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Renée Lucie Bourges
REDACTION | Auteure, traductrice et interprète
Née au Québec dans une famille franco-irlandaise, elle a vécu et travaillé comme rédactrice et traductrice en Amérique et au Moyen-Orient. Elle réside dans le sud-ouest de la France d’où elle écrit des romans en anglais, et fraternise avec tous les autres funambules de son espèce.