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Thir­teen years ago, a trip was pro­grammed, leav­ing Milan in Italy and head­ed for Jerusalem… Two artist friends would trav­el this road for peace, loud­ly pro­claim­ing peace for the world in a uni­ver­sal lan­guage… Hitch­hik­ing was cho­sen as the means of trav­el, as a sign of trust; it would allow unknown peo­ple met along the way to reach out their hands for peace. Thus with the con­tri­bu­tion of ordi­nary peo­ple at the dai­ly lev­el, they aimed at cre­at­ing an aware­ness against the dirty world of war, spread­ing mes­sages of peace all along the way.

This is how they had thought it out and planned their trip.

Pip­pa Bac­ca and Sil­via Moro, close friends, thus took to the road from Milan on March 8th, the day of work­ing women, armed with paci­fist feel­ings. Trav­el­ling through Slove­nia, Croa­t­ia, Bosnia, Bul­gar­ia, Turkey, Syr­ia, Lebanon, Israel and Pales­tine, they would reach Tel Aviv and would end their jour­ney for peace in Jerusalem, birth­place of numer­ous reli­gions, cul­tures and eth­nic groups.

Pri­or to the trip, they held a press con­fer­ence, took pho­tos. And the excep­tion­al cos­tume cho­sen for the trip was “a wed­ding dress”… Pippa’s dress, with its eleven lay­ers of frills, looked like a Lil­ly flower, and car­ried a sym­bol of each of the coun­tries they would cross. For them, the white wed­ding dress was a sym­bol of inno­cence. The dirt and mud gath­er­ing on the wed­ding dress­es would show the destruc­tion caused by war and shed blood in all the coun­tries they crossed, and none of the stains would be washed away.

The lands of the Mid­dle East are lands of suf­fer­ing and laments, where war, exploita­tion, blood, tears, pover­ty have been nev­er end­ing for thou­sands of years. There reigns a cli­mate of fear, pow­er­less­ness and vio­lent death for women… The most ancient place of humanity’s choice of seden­tary life is the sacred place for three great reli­gions but also, the locus of the most blood­ied zones where impe­ri­al­ist nations divid­ed, lac­er­at­ed, colonized…

Pip­pa Bac­ca was 34 years old… On the pho­tos, she is so slen­der she looks like a twig that could break at any moment. And her eyes…Looks of such puri­ty. Those eyes don’t yet know the water that will fill their sock­ets. What can we still hope except that this water will serve to water the doves…

Milan, Slove­nia, Croa­t­ia… Each coun­try crossed by Pip­pa and Sil­via as hitch hik­ers was record­ed, pho­tographed, and appeals for peace were sent to inter­na­tion­al news bulletins…The two friends were greet­ed with more inter­est than pre­dict­ed. Their jour­ney for peace was sup­port­ed by move­ments in civ­il soci­ety, and inter­na­tion­al women’s move­ments. The inter­na­tion­al media fol­lowed these two artists close­ly and sup­port­ed them.

Pip­pa was a Catholic. In every coun­try they crossed, she would kneel in front of peo­ple and per­form the rit­u­al of the wash­ing of feet, described in the Bible. The mes­sage was: “I love you, I trust you and I am mod­est. Believe in us, believe in us so we can build peace all together…”

Sil­via was more down to earth. She knew peace would not come with Jesus and divine jus­tice. So she had her wed­ding dress embroi­dered in all the coun­tries she crossed. Is not embroi­dery some­thing that exists in all soci­eties, the most ancient and root­ed way of telling tales, the strongest of artis­tic expres­sions? No mat­ter the lan­guage, the reli­gion, embroi­dery speaks to every soci­ety, tongues loosen through its motifs.

Bosnia, Bulgaria…Still more inter­est in pub­lic opin­ion, more voic­es, more news and, of course, more encouragement…

Yes, courage. For cen­turies, the Mid­dle East has been a ceme­tery of blood, vio­lence and death, cre­at­ed by fero­cious cap­i­tal­ist pow­ers. War has struck women and chil­dren even more. So, Pip­pa and Sil­via believed that con­science and jus­tice car­ried in women’s hearts would bring peace to the world. But how dif­fi­cult it is to be a woman in the Mid­dle East, which means being con­front­ed with death every day The Mid­dle East is a dark hell where more women are killed, stoned, raped and even sold on slave mar­kets even in our century…

They reached Turkey. The infer­nal gate­way to the Mid­dle East…Here, on Pippa’s pro­pos­al, the two friends would pur­sue their trip for peace sep­a­rate­ly, fol­low­ing two dif­fer­ent itin­er­aries   and meet up in Beyrouth.

Pip­pa was last seen climb­ing into a van. Then, no more news. Her fam­i­ly and the orga­ni­za­tions fol­low­ing the trip since the begin­ning were wor­ried. Three days lat­er, a dis­ap­pear­ance was sig­nalled to Turkey.

Turkey feared for its inter­na­tion­al image. Pip­pa was found 11 days after her “dis­ap­pear­ance”, in thorny bush­es in a for­est zone near Gebze. She had been raped and stran­gled. That is how Pip­pa was found.

Her wed­ding dress was torn by the the thorns, Her shoes, made for women with blis­ter­ing, wound­ing high heels, were scat­tered. Her palms were open, as if call­ing for help from all the oppressed women in the world…

And as if she were telling them “Take the water fill­ing my eye sock­ets, wash my feet with it. And trav­el togeth­er. Do not walk alone, help your sisters!!!”

Murat Karatas was the one who took her aboard his van, brought her to the for­est, raped and stran­gled her. The unem­ployed father of two chil­dren. He had recu­per­at­ed Pippa’s phone and placed his own sim card in it. He was thus quick­ly locat­ed. He had also con­fis­cat­ed Pippa’s cam­era and all the mon­ey she had on her…

On the inter­na­tion­al scene, the Turk­ish government’s image is very impor­tant! The media pro­duced head­lines such as “Our shame”, “We are dis­hon­ored”, “For­give us Pip­pa” but none of the arti­cles spoke about why Pip­pa had start­ed on this jour­ney. As for Murat Karataş, he nev­er pro­nounced a sin­gle word of regret. Although sen­tenced to per­pe­tu­ity, two years lat­er, he received a short­en­ing of his sen­tence for “good behav­ior”. His sen­tence was reduced to 36 years. Murat Karataş knows he will be lib­er­at­ed as soon as pos­si­ble. Because he knows that on these lands, killing a woman is not a crime.

Which is why, prayer cap on his head and wear­ing a suit and tie are motives jus­ti­fy­ing reduc­ing a sen­tence “for good behav­ior”.

Men always kill because they love too much, because they are jeal­ous, because they were wronged. Whether they kill the woman by stab­bing, stran­gling or burn­ing is of no impor­tance what­so­ev­er. In fact, fem­i­ni­cides are political.

After Pip­pa Bac­ca, 1933  trans women were assas­si­nat­ed on these lands. After Pip­pa Bac­ca, on these lands, 3 580 women were killed. These are only the deaths that are known because they were men­tioned by the media, how many oth­ers are unknown? Pip­pa and Silvia’s unfin­ished and end­less journey…

There was also Fat­ma Altın­makas. She was also a vic­tim, raped and impreg­nat­ed by her husband’s broth­er. Liv­ing in the same coun­try but from a peo­ple from oth­er lands, a his­tor­i­cal peo­ple whose lan­guage is more ancient than embroi­dered motifs, and yet for­bid­den. She called on the State for refuge, asked for her life to be pro­tect­ed. But the lan­guage in which she attempt­ed to com­mu­ni­cate was for­bid­den and no one heard her cry1.  Two days lat­er, her hus­band stran­gled her, along with the baby in her belly…

All the killed ones are quick­ly for­got­ten. The white wed­ding dress­es, splat­tered with blood, turn scarlet…

Only a few weeks ago, medieval dark­ness was in the news, right beside the mod­ern world, with the fig­ure of Afghani women. And the Boko Haram assas­si­na­tions in the bush… And  mar­kets sell­ing women… We’ve brought the counter back down to zero. Yet, every­thing con­tin­ues. Many efforts are dis­played to show the sav­age and bar­bar­ian Tal­iban as a pleas­ant and some­what naive chap. Thus are bless­ings bestowed on vio­lence and blood.

Water, tears, fill­ing the eye sock­ets of women who were killed, or who will be, in suf­fi­cient amounts to wash all the oppressed, and it is accumulating.

Pip­pa is still hitch­hik­ing in the Mid­dle East…

All this does not bode well.

Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges

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Suna Arev
Née en 1972 à Uzun­tar­la (Elazığ).Dans une famille de huits enfants, elle est immergée dès son plus jeune âge, par­mi les tra­vailleurs agri­coles à la tâche. Tel un miroir qui date de son enfance, la péri­ode du coup d’Etat mil­i­taire du 12 sep­tem­bre 1980 a for­mé sa vie poli­tique. Diplômée de l’École pro­fes­sion­nelle de com­merce d’Elazığ, elle a vécu, en grandeur nature les com­porte­ments fas­cistes et racistes dans sa ville. Mère de qua­tre enfants, depuis 1997, elle habite en Alle­magne, pour des raisons politiques.
Suna Arev was born in 1972 in the vil­lage of Uzun­tar­la, Elazığ dis­trict. From a fam­i­ly of eight chil­dren she became one of the agri­cul­tur­al work­ers at an ear­ly age. The mil­i­tary coup d’état of Sep­tem­ber 12 1980 served as a mir­ror in shap­ing her polit­i­cal out­look. After obtain­ing a diplo­ma from the Elazığ Pro­fes­sion­al Busi­ness School, she expe­ri­enced the full force of fas­cist and racist behav­iours in her town. She has lived in Ger­many since 1997, for polit­i­cal rea­sons. She is the moth­er of four children.