Türkçe Yeni Özgür Politika | Français | English

The term “inner migra­tion” has land­ed on my tongue. It has been like this since my trips from Istan­bul toward Amed (Diyarbakır).

At the moment, I’m at the Bercy bus sta­tion in Paris, as if under­tak­ing a sim­i­lar jour­ney. Of course, the land­ing point will not be Amed, but a small town in South­west­ern France. I’m trav­el­ling thus toward lands the Basque call “Euska Her­ria”, the French call “Pays Basque” and that we Kurds call “Welatê Bask”.

As I was prepar­ing for this trip, I was ques­tion­ing myself. One finds fresh sources in people’s his­to­ry, in what they tell us. Inter­est in a peo­ple involves lis­ten­ing to their tales.

I leave behind me the tur­moil of Paris, a year-round con­di­tion. Along with Hasan car­ry­ing his  film and his pho­to cam­eras, we leave on this bus ride that will last the whole night.

We arrived in Bay­onne in the ear­ly morn­ing. The town was wrapped in fog. The tiny ancient stone bridge link­ing the train sta­tion to the down­town area, known as “Petite Bay­onne”, was almost invis­i­ble. But there was noth­ing glum about this fog. Quite the oppo­site, far from Paris, it appeared as a chance to take a deep breath.

In this town, rest­ing on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean with its long beach embraced by forests, the first invi­ta­tion is to trav­el with your nose in the air, tak­ing in its mag­nif­i­cent archi­tec­ture. Whether we want to or not, we can’t pull our eyes away from build­ings that all have a tale to tell, a his­to­ry, a soul. The region­al archi­tec­ture speaks to those who built it over the years and who still live there nowa­days. On the streets lined with cen­tu­ry old build­ings, you can’t avoid step­ping on toes as your eyes slide along the upper storeys before reach­ing the sky… These ancient build­ings change colours, from one town to anoth­er. But this red suits Bay­onne so well.

After a break by the side of the riv­er that runs across the town, in a café where the morn­ing brings the day’s first “bon­jour”, we take our seats in the last row in anoth­er bus, leav­ing for a love­ly two-hour ride.

We leave Bay­onne, on the way to Mauléon-Licharre.

They say the cows watch the trains go by but, in this case, we are the ones watch­ing them stream by. There are also sheep, hors­es enjoy­ing the pas­tures in the hills and moun­tains of a deep green, each one like a paint­ing. Nos­tal­gia grabs at me, once again.

In the Basque Country, like an air of Kurdistan : Leader Öcalan, Arîn Mîrxan and the YPJ flag

Once in Mauléon-Licharre we walk for a while to reach the loca­tion of the fes­ti­val, rea­son for which we con­sid­ered trav­el­ling to this place. It is set to run over four days, from Octo­ber 7 to 10. Lucile, who was part of the organ­is­ers of this ini­tia­tive had told me from a dis­tance how an old fac­to­ry had been trans­formed into a cul­tur­al cen­ter over here. This fes­ti­val allowed me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it it.

We pass City hall where we run across “Lulu”, Mon­sieur le Maire, and head for the cul­tur­al center.

The com­plex con­sists of three stone and wood build­ings, stand­ing side by side. There, I find Lucile and her col­leagues, work­ing away with enthu­si­asm. We are greet­ed by YPJ flags, hang­ing on both sides of the great wood­en door, and human-sized card­board print­outs of Leader Öcalan and Arîn Mîrx­an, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary Kur­dish woman.

On the front of the cul­tur­al cen­ter, there is an out­side exhi­bi­tion with pan­els writ­ten in Castil­ian and in Basque. Pho­tos of Roja­va, notably of the Acad­e­my of Women and Jine­ol­o­gy. Already in these first steps, one can find traces of the ancien jour­ney, already car­ried out by Basque men and women, on a group  pho­to, next to a wel­com­ing pan­el from Afrin : “Hun Bi Her Hatin”.

Dur­ing this four-day fes­ti­val women from the South­ern part of Basque Coun­try will share with all their heart their strong­ly-felt com­mon polit­i­cal view­points with Roja­va, their strong sense of solidarity.

A rich pro­gram await­ed us in Mauléon:

Mauleon Pro­gramme-2021

The fes­ti­val is intend­ed as “a cel­e­bra­tion of the diver­si­ty and rich­ness of the pop­u­la­tion of Mauléon, a homage to a past marked by exile, wel­come and  a mix­ing of cul­tures, the open­ing of spaces for exchanges, offer­ing  as many open­ings on future per­spec­tives”. This first edi­tion has a guest of hon­our: Pınar Selek, soci­ol­o­gist and writer.

In a fes­ti­val where none of the organ­is­ers are Kur­dish, such a sol­id focus on themes such as the resis­tance of the Kur­dish women of Roja­va, Jine­ol­o­gy, the YPJ, the Acad­e­my of women, could not have come about with­out the exis­tence of a very strong link of solidarity.

In the com­ing days, I will share with you inter­views we con­duct­ed with some of the peo­ple who took part in this love­ly adventure..

Dur­ing this fes­ti­val, high­lights of the work of Kur­dish artists such as Zehra Doğan, showed Kurdistan’s resis­tance  alive on walls at the oth­er end of the world.

Prison n°5”, the graph­ic book by jour­nal­ist and artist Zehra Doğan was realised secret­ly in prison, its pages  exfil­trat­ed clan­des­tine­ly, one by one; the book was pub­lished in the spring of 2021 by Edi­tions Del­court in French and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in Ital­ian by Bec­ca Gial­lo pub­li­ca­tions. The book relates the peri­od of exac­tions by the Turk­ish army dur­ing the years 2015–2016, along with the his­to­ry of the Kur­dish people’s strug­gle and the dai­ly life of the pris­on­ers. There are now twen­ty enlarged repro­duc­tion of orig­i­nal pages, avail­able for exhi­bi­tions by asso­ci­a­tions, book­stores, libraries. And this small exhi­bi­tion began with its first stop in Mauléon… The twen­ty repro­duc­tions are here, before your eyes.

From exhi­bi­tion to meet­ings to exchanges, from film screen­ings to shows, music also plays its role in unit­ing people…

In the evening, on stage we find the Basque group, the Trio Daraçiyê, one mem­ber of which is the Kurd Hay­dar Işcen. As for Yohann Vil­lan­ua, he moves us when he sings “Şevekî tarî, bi berf û baran” in Kur­dish, and bril­liant­ly. We, togeth­er and reunit­ed, Kur­dish, Basque, Armen­ian, Arab, French, Span­ish, Turk­ish, Por­tuguese com­rades, tes­ti­fy to the trans­for­ma­tion of the path tak­en by sol­i­dar­i­ty into a high­way that extends from the Basque Coun­try all the way to Kurdistan.

The con­cert by the col­lec­tive Medz Bazar is also a whole mosa­ic of colours. Words stop and the melodies take over.

Final­ly, even if I start­ed out say­ing this jour­ney “would not be one where the final stop would be Amed”, these reunions took me back instant­ly  all the way to Amed.

Dur­ing these four days, I had exchanges with many peo­ple. All of them are close­ly relat­ed with Kur­dis­tan and Roja­va and with their very heart… A bridge is estab­lished cross­ing all bor­ders, heart to heart. It is impos­si­ble here not to won­der “am I in Mauléon-Licharre, in Lin­chans-Sun­har or in Amed, in Cizre, in Afrin?”

You see, some­one walks some­where, he or she leaves foot­steps, yes? Then, oth­ers fol­low these steps and a trail appears. This road is then eas­i­er to fol­low because every­one knows it leads somewhere.

In Roja­va, all of the peo­ple fol­lowed in the steps of Kur­dish women. The trail they opened trans­formed itself into a road. Now, peo­ple who belong to oth­er peo­ples in the world will fol­low tin full trust in their turn…

With grat­i­tude to those who opened the way and those who fol­lowed it, and to those who will car­ry it further.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Ercan Jan Aktaş
Objecteur de con­science, auteur et jour­nal­iste exilé en France. Vic­dan retçisi, yazar, gazete­ci. Şu anda Fransa’da sürgünde bulunuy­or. Con­sci­en­tious objec­tor, author and jour­nal­ist exiled in France.