“Woman, life, freedom”, a slogan that comes from afar

Rhen it will never be the same in Iran since the arrest, on September 13, of Mahsa Amini by the Tehran morality police, for not having worn the veil severely enough, imposed by the Islamic Republic on all women in the country. She was beaten at the police station, she was transported in a deep coma to the hospital where she died three days later. The martyrdom of this 22-year-old girl, instead of being sinister news, raised a wave of protest that soon spread throughout the country. The slogan “Woman, life, freedom” they resounded in unprecedented demonstrations, which the government repression, despite its bloody brutality, could not quell. Abroad, it is this same slogan, declined in all local languages, which is chanted in solidarity demonstrations. This war cry, however, already has a long history, inseparable from a certain Kurdish militancy.

A feminist triptychme

It was probably in April 2013, in Ankara, that the slogan “Woman, life, freedom” resounded for the first time, during the congress of the women’s branch of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), a predominantly Kurdish party and historically linked to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). The founder of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned in Turkey since 1999, has just called for the suspension of hostilities between the separatist guerrillas and the Erdogan government. The ceasefire thus concluded is accompanied by the transfer to Syria of Kurdish fighters, the famous peshmergas, who leave the Bakurthe Turkish “North” of his dream Kurdistan, to settle in Rojava, the west of eastern Kurdistan to come (in the same spirit, independence activists call Iranian Kurdistan “Rohjelat”, meaning East, and Iraqi Kurdistan, “Bashur”, meaning South). This peace process allows the BDP to develop its activities in Turkey and present its feminist program, in particular with quotas for equal representation.

Öcalan, whose writings are methodically studied throughout the PKK movement, in fact considers that “The liberation of women is the liberation of Kurdistan”. In his eyes, the dismantling of the patriarchal system is inseparable from the social and national emancipation of the Kurdish people. In July 2014, the BDP dissolved into the HDP (People’s Democratic Party), which achieved an unprecedented score of 13% of the vote in the June 2015 legislative elections.

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