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Today, Decem­ber 10 2020, is the “Inter­na­tion­al Day for Human Rights”, and I am in Sulay­maniyah.

All day long, I walked around the town, each cor­ner of which con­tains a trove of mem­o­ries. Each spot we vis­it­ed tells a sto­ry. The mem­o­ry of the Kurds killed by Sadam’s regime are still alive and the pain is still perceptible.

Then, with friends, we entered the Gar­den of Free­dom. In Sadam’s days, a com­mis­sari­at stood here. Hun­dreds of Kur­dish intel­lec­tu­als were killed here, buried alive. Yet, this spot,  despite being filled with painful his­to­ry, is now a space where chil­dren play and laugh out loud.

Some­times, unfor­tu­nate­ly, some peo­ple are oblig­ed to fight for hun­dreds of years to have their most fun­da­men­tal, most ele­men­tary  human rights rec­og­nized  and must pay the price for this. We are one of those people…

In prin­ci­ple, one of the four parts of Kur­dis­tan from which I come is now free today. But despite this, fun­da­men­tal rights are not met there. Because in that part, the appeal of pow­er and feo­dal­ism dom­i­nates. The peo­ple have been out in the street for a week, defend­ing their rights and protest­ing over the non-pay­ment of their salaries by the State, for a year now. In one week, 8 young peo­ple have been killed. There are demon­stra­tions in Sulay­maniyah and the surroundings.

As long as all fun­da­men­tal human rights are not respect­ed, as long as equal­i­ty is not the order of the day, we can­not be ful­ly free.

And I think of oth­er places in the world, where these same strug­gles are ongo­ing, on this “Inter­na­tion­al Day of Human Rights”. There are so many of them.

Right now, for exam­ple, women in Poland are stand­ing up for fun­da­men­tal rights.

In Turkey in the past months, sev­er­al acts of sex­u­al vio­lence were per­pe­trat­ed against women. Yet, the State does noth­ing. More­over, thou­sands of peo­ple fill the pris­ons, unjustly.

All this is a reflec­tion of the sex­ist, racist, dis­crim­i­na­to­ry face of the States…

I am con­vinced that women are at the foreront of the fight for human rights. The Wom­en’s strug­gle is the strug­gle for human rights.

Zehra Doğan

Zehra Doğan Souleymanieh Sulaymaniyah

Zehra Doğan, “Kur­dis­tan 2”, 2020. On map, acrylic, felt pen, gold paper, 150 x 114 cm. Prom­e­teo Gallery, Milan. Pho­to: Ludovi­ca Magni­ni.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Zehra Doğan
Auteure, mem­bre d’hon­neur de Kedistan
Jour­nal­iste, artiste. Jour­nal­ist, artist. Gazete­ci, sanatçı.