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Roza Metî­na is a Kur­dish writer from the town of Derik in Mardin province. We met her in Diyarbakır in the café on the “rue des Arts”, on a spring day when the rain was com­ing down in sheets.

How did you start writing ?

I start­ed very young. But in pub­lic schools, we did not have access to school­ing in our mater­nal lan­guage, we had to access our school­ing in Turk­ish. For this rea­son we did not have the pos­si­bil­i­ty to read and write in our own tongue. Yes, of course, when I start­ed school, I knew my own tongue, since we spoke Kur­dish at home. If truth be told, not every­one was as lucky as I was, most Kurds because of State oppres­sion are caught up in assim­i­la­tion and do not speak their own lan­guage at home. I spoke it, but since the school­ing was in Turk­ish, my first poems, my first com­po­si­tions were in Turk­ish. I fin­ished sec­ondary school in Derik, then moved on to uni­ver­si­ty stud­ies in Amed (Diyarbakır).

At the time, there were Kur­dish class­es here at the Kur­dî-Der cen­ter. I start­ed attend­ing them. Speak­ing a lan­guage is one thing, read­ing and writ­ing it is quite anoth­er. I did not know how to read or write  in my mater­nal lan­guage… Lat­er, the asso­ci­a­tion was shut down by decree, like many oth­ers here… Most of the struc­tures in the field of cul­ture, of lan­guage, were shut down in this way. So I began my school­ing at the Kur­dî-Der cen­ter, then I went on writ­ing in Kur­dish. Because I became aware of what fol­lows: you use the lan­guage in which you write. You dream in the lan­guage in which you write. For years, I was crushed under the Turk­ish lan­guage, for years my iden­ti­ty, my exis­tence were under attack. So I did not wish to go on writ­ing in Turk­ish, I want­ed to begin anew with Kur­dish. Because there are pre­cious names in Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture. Such as Mes­ture Kurdistani…She is a remark­able Kur­dish woman in Mid­dle-East­ern his­to­ry. I can also men­tion Ahmed‑ê Xani Cigerxwîn, Baba Tahire Uryan… These authors are clas­sics not only in Kur­dish, but in world lit­er­a­ture. I have drawn much inspi­ra­tion from them, and my own tongue is tru­ly enough to express every­thing. I tell myself “I have a pow­er­ful lan­guage, a strong lit­er­a­ture, why should I not use my own literature ?”

You dream in the language in which you write.


Numer­ous research show that the first lit­er­ary forms find their ori­gins in native soils. Here we are in a very rich region where His­to­ry began.  When seen under this angle, we could say that Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture in one of the foun­da­tions of world lit­er­a­ture, in a way. But we con­stant­ly regret one thing: “Why does world lit­er­a­ture not take hold of Krud­ish lit­er­a­ture ? Why does it ignore it and close its eyes to the oppres­sions to which it is sub­ject­ed?,” Hasankeyf, for instance…From a His­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, it is a most pre­cious loca­tion; And yet, despite the fact the vil­lage was under the pro­tec­tion of UNESCO, that entire part of His­to­ry is now under water. In fact, I con­sid­er it is not only Kur­dish His­to­ry that was drowned but world His­to­ry. We look at the world. We see them say­ing “we con­demn, we denounce”, but noth­ing is done in prac­ti­cal terms. Real­ly, for Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture, and con­se­quent­ly, for world lit­er­a­ture to be pro­tect­ed, mea­sures must be taken.

Roza Metina Segose çargose

What do you write about?

When I start­ed writ­ing in my mater­nal lan­guage, I began with poet­ry. I have three books of poet­ry in Kur­dish. My poems are about love as well as about the strug­gle of the Kurds, or again, about women…And  a tale I wrote for chil­dren “Sêgose û Çar­gose” (The tri­an­gle and the square). It is about child devel­op­ment and tells them about col­ors, friend­ship, but also hygiene… An edu­ca­tion­al tale, in oth­er words.

I have not writ­ten any nov­els but I’ve received four prizes for my short sto­ries. They are about women who lost their life in the strug­gle for free­dom. For instance, I wrote about Moth­er Tay­bet. This wom­en’s body remained in the dusty street in Cizre, for sev­en days. Can you imag­ine? A woman dies, her remains stay on the ground and her chil­dren can do noth­ing except keep an eye on them from afar, with the fear that dogs will come to eat her body… I wrote about Cemile. Still a child, Cemile was killed in front of her house as she was step­ping out to get bread. Her moth­er had to store her corpse in the freez­er so it would not rot dur­ing the cur­few peri­od. I wrote about Sevê, Pak­ize and Fat­ma, three polit­i­cal women killed in Silopi, just as were the three Kur­dish women who were assas­si­nat­ed in France. The fact three women were tar­get­ed in this way is not triv­ial. This type of attack tar­gets wom­en’s strug­gles world­wide. Imag­ine a coun­try where thieves walk around freely while polit­i­cal fig­ures are arrest­ed, assas­si­nat­ed. One can eas­i­ly guess what hap­pens. All of this is polit­i­cal. They are mea­sures tak­en against the Kur­dish lib­er­a­tion struggle.

So your writ­ing is ground­ed in the present…

Writ­ing about his­to­ry and writ­ing about the present are two dif­fer­ent things. I con­sid­er myself much bet­ter at writ­ing about the present. Why? Because I live it. These are things I have seen with my own eyes. I could have looked back fur­ther, writ­ten for exam­ple about the Der­sim mas­sacre in 1938. But I want­ed to write about things I wit­nessed in my own life.

When we Kurds write, we also do so to fight against obliv­ion. For exam­ple, I want­ed to write about these women so their mur­ders would not be for­got­ten. It is also impor­tant to reflect real­i­ties as they are. We look toward the past, but facts are not always trans­mit­ted from the right per­spec­tive, and often, they are told  erro­neous­ly. Every­one inter­prets them accord­ing to his or her own way of think­ing. But today, we trans­mit that which we wit­ness, in its total naked­ness. So it will not be for­got­ten, so our work may find its way into the archives. At the same time, we are at the ser­vice of Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture, because we write in Kurdish.

When we Kurds write, we also do so to fight against oblivion.


In your opin­ion, is there a Kur­dish wom­en’s voice in Kur­dish literature ?

These days, Kur­dish women write most­ly poet­ry. They deal with a num­ber of themes. Some women write short sto­ries but there are few who write novels.


When they start writ­ing, they must face up to the pres­sures from soci­ety and from the sys­tem. They don’t have the pos­si­bil­i­ty to express them­selves through the dif­fer­ent lit­er­ary forms. This is also linked to the absence in this coun­try of an edu­ca­tion in the mater­nal language.

More gen­er­al­ly, one of the prob­lems in this coun­try is that peo­ple do not read very much. Lead­ers and media bear a heavy respon­si­bil­i­ty for this. Because in the media, there is almost noth­ing to incite toward read­ing, to inter­est peo­ple in lit­er­a­ture. The sys­tem is struc­tured around a notion of the nation’s indi­vis­i­bil­i­ty, and it is rather con­ser­v­a­tive. It wish­es to imprison women inside their homes. You can see this at work, for exam­ple in Turkey’s leav­ing the Istan­bul Con­ven­tion

Roza Metina Heviyen Dilazad


What are your cur­rent activities ?

I cur­rent­ly live in Amed (Diyarbakır). I am both a jour­nal­ist and a writer. I worked as a teacher in mul­ti­lin­gual city day­care cen­ters where Eng­lish, kur­mancî and zaza­kî were spoken…After admin­is­tra­tors were named (kayyum) these cen­ters were shut down. All these insti­tu­tions cre­at­ed for the teach­ing of the Kur­dish lan­guage were tar­get­ed specif­i­cal­ly. And a num­ber of teach­ers were fired, par­tic­u­lar­ly on Feb­ru­ary 21, the “Inter­na­tion­al Day of Mater­nal Lan­guages” ! I was also fired at that time. I then start­ed work­ing as a journalist.

I am also a mem­ber of the Kur­dish PEN and I am a board mem­ber of the Kur­dish Lit­er­ary Asso­ci­a­tion (Kürt Ede­biy­atçılar Derneği) which we cre­at­ed. Along­side this, I present a lit­er­ary pro­gram on the wom­en’s chan­nel, Jin TV. So I’m very active in the areas of jour­nal­ism and literature.

What rela­tion­ship do you find between lit­er­ary writ­ing and journalism?

 Both crafts feed off one anoth­er. When I com­pare my pre­vi­ous work in a day­care cen­ter and that of jour­nal­ist, I can say I’m much hap­pi­er with the lat­ter because it feeds me, it feeds lit­er­a­ture. Jour­nal­ism pro­vides us with reflex­es, mech­a­nisms for read­ing, obser­va­tion, reflec­tion. It teach­es us to look at lit­er­a­ture with the eyes of an inves­ti­ga­tor. In lit­er­a­ture, read­ing and research are very impor­tant ele­ments. For this rea­son, I think that jour­nal­ism has a pos­i­tive effect on lit­er­ary crafts.

Do you think in lit­er­ary terms, when work­ing as a journalist?

Yes, for exam­ple, we have our news agency, Jin News and there, there is a col­umn “wom­en’s pens”. When work­ing at Jin News, we also write con­tri­bu­tions to this pen…When we must relay an infor­ma­tion, we can include our own feel­ings, weave the text as we see fit in our own free will. These are ele­ments that tru­ly rein­force our own pen.  And in order to write lit­er­a­ture well, you need a pow­er­ful pen.

Yours is more a lit­er­ary jour­nal­ism or one of gen­er­al information?

The agency has dif­fer­ent depart­ments, cul­ture, lit­er­a­ture, wom­en’s pen, reports… For exam­ple, since the agen­cy’s basic prin­ci­ple is to prac­tice a jour­nal­isme “cen­tered on women”, we give pref­er­ence to inter­views of women writ­ers. You dis­cov­er how the woman writes, on what top­ics, how she feeds lit­er­a­ture, and you keep all that in a cor­ner of your mind, I think all that also enrich­es your own writ­ing and gives your pen more strength The more you read, the more you meet writ­ers, the more you dis­cov­er dif­fer­ent approach­es and dif­fer­ent ways of writ­ing. This not only shows up in the lit­er­a­ture you pro­duce, but in your whole life.

Roza Metina Bilindahiyen xwedawend

In your opin­ion, what is the cur­rent sta­tus of Kur­dish literature ?

Here, we have a deng­bêj cul­ture.  This is of true inter­est non only for Kurds but also for oth­ers. It is an oral lit­er­a­ture. In for­mer days, noth­ing was writ­ten down. Sto­ries were trans­mit­ted through word of mouth and in stran, which is to say in song. Of course there were none of today’s advanced tech­nolo­gies. I still recall, when I was small in the vil­lage, we would sit around my grand­fa­ther when he came to tell sto­ries. He recit­ed sto­ries, sang strans, in the deng­bêj fash­ion. The art of deng­bêj is one of the cor­ner­stones of Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture. Had this art not exist­ed, because of oppres­sions, our cul­ture might have been mov­ing toward extinc­tion. The Kur­dish lan­guage could have disappeared.

I think that, despite the pres­sures and pro­hi­bi­tions, Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture is healthy. If Kurds had been able to speak their lan­guage freely, with­out any pro­hi­bi­tions and had access to edu­ca­tion in their mater­nal lan­guage, Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture would be in even bet­ter con­di­tion. Imag­ine, for exam­ple, that there is a news­pa­per in Kur­dish, Xwe­bûn, which is for­bid­den in pris­ons. Kur­dish pris­on­ers want to read a news­pa­per in their own lan­guage, but this is not allowed. Most of the time, books in Kur­dish are refused, sent back. Azadiya Welât, anoth­er news­pa­per in Kur­dish was closed down, its staff, sentenced.

Despite all the hur­dles, the Kurds, Kur­dish women have led an impor­tant bat­tle on the lit­er­ary front. Of course, this strug­gle for sur­vival car­ries a heavy cost. The Kur­dish PEN has con­duct­ed a study about impris­oned writ­ers. Cur­rent­ly in Turkey, 77 writ­ers and close to 95 jour­nal­ists are in prison. All of these impris­oned writ­ers are Kur­dish. And still, these are the fig­ures we man­aged to obtain on our own, they may well be an underestimation.

How do you see the future of Kur­dish literature ?

I relate not only lit­er­a­ture but devel­op­ment in the areas of cul­ture and soci­ety to pol­i­tics in the Mid­dle-East. If polit­i­cal ten­sion exists in an area, it reflects also on oth­er areas. Despite this, I am con­vinced that the future of Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture will be beau­ti­ful. Because there are writ­ers and Kur­dish poets, men and women, pro­duc­ing remark­able works. These are works, and all the works of today will light the future. But if war goes on in the future, lit­er­a­ture will remain in its shadow.

And women writers ?

Women writ­ers are sub­ject­ed to oppres­sions every­where in the world, but in the Mid­dle-East, this is even more pro­nounced. Notably because reli­gion is used as an instru­ment against them. Women have built the foun­da­tion of lit­er­a­ture, but the men are always at the fore­front and women stand behind the cur­tain. All these tales, these strans are woven in truth through the tongue of women. But wom­en’s col­ors have not been paint­ed because of social and moral pressures.

Nowa­days, yes, there are Kur­dish women writ­ers who fight for lit­er­a­ture. Com­pared to the past, they can pub­lish more books, par­tic­i­pate in the lit­er­ary field. But despite every­thing, the male writ­ers are the ones with the high­est billing. Every­where in the world the same dom­i­na­tion pre­vails, that of men. Through­out world lit­er­a­ture, a num­ber of women writ­ers have had to pub­lish under mas­cu­line pseu­do­nyms. There are women who have explored the world, dis­guised as men.

The dom­i­nant machis­mo men­tal­i­ty is the same every­where, but stronger still in the Mid­dle-East. I link this to inter­na­tion­al atti­tudes. Because, at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, States always want to prof­it from keep­ing the Mid­dle-East in an ocean of blood and wars, since most States nego­ti­ate the sales of their weapons on the back of the Mid­dle-East. Think of how impor­tant the num­bers are of chil­dren killed dur­ing the attacks on Roja­va. Those chil­dren were mas­sa­cred with the weapons from those States. I think there are impe­ri­al­ist forces that do not want war to cease in the Middle-East.

In a way, war is the rea­son why women can­not move for­ward, in the social area as well as in lit­er­a­ture in the Mid­dle-East which is con­stant­ly a place of chaos and wars. You can­not move for­ward in a war zone. Because every­one is attempt­ing to sur­vive. Be it in lit­er­a­ture, cul­ture, art, every­thing stands in the shad­ow of war. I think this is the case in the Mid­dle-East. More­o­ev­er, in war zones, the first tar­gets are His­to­ry, lit­er­a­ture. Because lit­er­a­ture is a pow­er­ful link. And in a con­flict, pow­er­ful things are tar­get­ed. This is how I relate the fact that Kur­dish women are not in a more advan­ta­geous posi­tion in lit­er­a­ture to oppres­sions, wars and atti­tudes of States at the inter­na­tion­al level.

Roza Metina Tiliya Qerequcke

Is find­ing a pub­lish­ing house difficult ?

Yes, that’s anoth­er prob­lem. Here, the pub­lish­ing hous­es are under pres­sure. There are State aids for works pub­lished in Turk­ish. There are no aids for books in Kur­dish. Kur­dish pub­lish­ing hous­es are put in a dif­fi­cult posi­tion. For exam­ple, recent­ly, the own­er of J&J Edi­tions, Azad Zal, was arrested…

Since Kur­dish pub­lish­ing hous­es have very lim­it­ed means, they are forced to print books against pay­ment [Note: mean­ing, financed by the author.] I don’t con­sid­er this eth­i­cal. As a writer, you sweat over the writ­ing, then you must pay to have the book print­ed… If the Kurds had a State, it would dis­trib­ute aids and sub­si­dies to pub­lish­ers and Kur­dish authors. But since those means do not exist at the moment, both authors and pub­lish­ing hous­es are in trouble.

Are you pub­lished in Kur­dish lit­er­ary journals?

My texts and poems are pub­lished in var­i­ous Kur­dish jour­nals and mag­a­zines. For exam­ple, there cur­rent­ly exists a wom­en’s paper pub­lished in Europe, Newaya Jin„ which pub­lish­es my writ­ing every month. More­over, my poems are pub­lished on the inter­net web­site Bername, Asoya Helbestê. When Azadiya Welat still exist­ed, it had pub­lished some of my writings.

Is there a pub­lic for Kur­dish literature?

It isn’t a very large pub­lic, espe­cial­ly for poet­ry. But it is a very atten­tive and excel­lent read­ing pub­lic. In Kur­dish, nov­els are read, most­ly. This does not only affect Kur­dish lit­er­a­ture. Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing in Turkey, read­er­ship is low. Kur­dish read­er­ship stands at the midpoint…Since the teach­ing of the mater­nal lan­guage is absent, most Kurds do not know how to write and read their own language.

Things would be so much bet­ter, if there were more read­ers… Real­ly, what defines the future of a coun­try, what brings it to pros­per­i­ty, is the fact its soci­ety reads. Unfor­tu­naly, most lead­ers in the Mid­dle-East do not want an enlight­ened society…They want sub­mis­sive peo­ple who accept being used for the inter­ests of oth­ers, a flock of sheep… Because those who ques­tion are also rebels. Those who read stand tall. And, unfor­tu­nate­ly, exist­ing sys­tems do not want to be con­front­ed by enlight­ened and strong soci­eties. This is why they tar­get women first and fore­most and imprison them between four walls, espe­cial­ly by intru­men­tal­iz­ing religions.


Inter­view con­duct­ed by Loez in April 2021
Pro­pos traduits par Naz Oke, Eng­lish trans­la­tion by Renée Lucie Bourges.

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Pho­to-jour­nal­iste indépendant
Loez s’in­téresse depuis plusieurs années aux con­séquences des États-nations sur le peu­ple kurde, et aux luttes de celui-ci.