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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.


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

Translation by Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.