Jin - Jiyan - Azadi « Women, Life, Freedom

Sonja Hamad

2015 - Ongoing


It is said that death at the hands of a woman deters a martyr from entering paradise ! One third of all Kurdish fighters in Western Kurdistan are women. Unafraid of death and fulfilled by their passion for their homeland and their love for their families and people, these women muster up the courage to face the heavily armed IS in Syria. One of their most recent victories includes the recapturing of the City of Kobane in northern Syria from the IS. The IS has kidnapped hundreds of Kurdish Yazidi women in Sindscha and sold them as sex slaves on markets, raped, and even beheaded them. It is in this context that the IS approves the most direct, extreme, and crass forms of patriarchy, sexism, and feudalism. These women refuse to succumb to the patriarchical view of the role of women that regards women as objects, trapped in their homes, and upholding the familys honour. It is without exaggeration to say that one could describe the current Kurdish feminist movement viewed from a military, ideological, and organiza- tional perspective as the worlds strongest movement on behalf of the rights of women. As soon as this war will be won, one of the »mountain’s daughters« states, the real fight just begins. Since the threat comes from the outside by IS incursions and from the inside. The fight for deliverance is equally directed toward old social tradition by which they are still sup- pressed. Within this no-man’s-land they are living in right now, they are outlawed, but in the Kurdish tradition in which they were growing up, they remained without rights too. Now, the emergency situation opens up for them the possibility to change something. These are the women who have to lose the least and to gain the most.

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  • Two stand still. Hasaka, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    The fighter Shirin, 21 years old, is member of the YPJ for three years already. Once, she attended the high school in Hasake as the only child from the family. She told that her parents had been very concerned about her and, hence, that they visited her several times during the battles in Hasake. Despite severe injuries Shirin wants to remain in the militia after the war.

  • Zilan, 19 years old. Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdistan 2015
    Zilan is wearing the typical guerilla clothing: a wide short and a uniform jacket, all in olive-green. In addition to that, she is wearing a „Schutik“ – a lengthy weapon-belt that is bound fancily around her hips.

  • Diljin, 21 years old. Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdistan 2015
    Diljin has joined the guerilla to fight for women rights. For her, the resistance is directed rather against the suppression of women than to the ‘Islamic State’ or the Turkish government.
    The fact that many young female fighters are driven by emancipatory reasons does often enough not find resonance (among us).

  • Target. Hasaka, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    It is less that 500 meters away from the shelters of the female fighters at the first front of Al-Hasakah, that one passes a picture of Hafiz al-Assad – the father of the ruling dictator Baschar al-Assad. He presents himself in a heroic gesture that is in the meantime perforated by bullet holes.

  • The space between. Kobani, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    In the twilight, the wounds of the liberated city of Kobani appear almost soft. After the attacks by the ‘Islamic State’, the tattered buildings breath a melancholic quietness that reminds even more emphatically of the destruction.

  • Pointless. Tal Hamis, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    Also the City of Tal Hamis had been liberated by PKK fighters from the IS and is now under their surveillance. Time stands still at places that mean home up to now.

  • Zilan, 19 years old. Makhmur, Iraqi Kurdistan 2016

  • Tiyda, 30 years old. Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdistan 2015
    Tiyda fights for her conviction that especially women can assume a particular role in the construction of a new society: “We have to lead the fight for political and social freedom and to bring this fight to the summit. We must democratise all areas of life. That is the concrete task of every revolutionary. This is, at the same time, the task of all conscientious human beings.”

  • Gulan, 19, Zerya, 18, and Zilan, 17 years old (from left to right). Sinjar, Iraqi Kurdistan 2015
    Here, with the “mountains’ daughters” the movement of liberation really got started. If one joins the guerrilla, one gives up one’s name, adopting a new identity and calling each other “Haval”, what means something like “friend”.

  • War’s shadow. Kobani, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    Kobani in fall 2015 after the liberation by the Kurdish army: a ruined city full of car wrecks and rubble mountains. Everywhere you’ll find stairs leading nowhere and walls perforated and black- ened with soot. Same quarters are completely destroyed, and of many buildings there are only facades left.

  • Guerilla. Makhmur, Iraqi Kurdistan 2016

  • On the other side. Til Temir, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    A moment of rest at the front line in Til Temir and its Christian quarter. The IS is fighting in the next village that is less than two kilometres away.

  • Jihan, 25 years old. Kobani, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    Jihan is fighting for the Kurdish army together with two other siblings. Their home village was occupied by IS, the rest of their family flew to Turkey during the occupation. Before she had joined the unit, Jihan got a three-months-training and, after that, has been involved in the liberation of Kobani.

  • Dicle, 23 years old. Hasaka, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    Dicle appears to be much older than she really is, as many of the fighters do. She is a member of the resistance for three years, before that she fought in the mountains of Kurdistan.

  • The woman with the long braid. Makhmur, Iraqi Kurdistan 2016

  • Kurdish spring. Romelan, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    The last memory of fighters killed in action is often the shared meal before the battle. As brutal and inhuman the state of war might be, yet the women try again and again to create spaces of concealment and cosiness.

  • Reprieve. Kobani, Rojava-Northern Syria 2015
    Kalashnikows of the fighters in the sunset – a rare view since the fighters actually do not take off their weapons.

  • Green, red, yellow. Makhmur, Iraqi Kurdistan 2016

  • Garden of memory. Kandil mountains, Iraqi Kurdistan 2015
    Behind the trees is slightly hidden the museum of the martyrs in the Kandil mountains. Hundred meters away is the well-known and most beautiful martyr cemetery of the Kurdish fighters.

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