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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.