Yeni Özgür Politika has shared the story of a female Kurdish activist who, after being subjected to forced displacement by the Turkish military forces in the 1990s, has been living in exile in Berlin for more than 20 years.
Gozê Çalkan is a Kurdish activist from Berlin Dest-Dan Women’s Council who is well known by the Kurdish community in Berlin as ”Dayika Gozê” (Mother Gozê).
Like other villagers in the region, Dayika Gozê was a victim of forced displacement. She migrated to Istanbul from the village of Lîs, located in Turkey’s southeastern province of Muş (Mûş), when it was burned to the ground.
Dayika Gozê’s husband was later imprisoned and after serving a four-year sentence he was eventually released, yet the pressure on the Çalkan family remained ended so that migrated to Europe to seek political refuge.
”After my husband was released from prison, the police continued to put pressure on us, so we had to flee to Berlin with my four children in 2000″, she said.
‘It is everybody’s right to raise their children with their mother language’
Dayika Goze reflected on the reasons for her migration and how being a mother played an important role in her decision. “Everbody would like to live a comfortable life with their children so they can grow up in a safe environment. It is also everybody’s right to raise their children with their own mother language and culture”, she said.
“We also wanted to live as who we are. Unfortunately, such a life was banned for us in Turkey. That opportunity was never offered to us”.
‘We are Kurds and we are not over’
While she was living with her four children in Istanbul, she could not allow them to play in the streets. “Because when they went out, they could be subjected to oppression just because of the fact that people knew that we were Kurdish”, she said.
She stressed that the one of the main reasons for migrating to Europe was the anxiety caused by discrimination. But in Europe she transformed her anxiety into action. She said that she will not forget her Kurdish identity as long as she exists.
“Yes, we are Kurds”, she said and added, “How many years the leader of the Kurds has been in isolation. When they captured our leader, the Turkish state thought that Kurds were over. But you see, we are not over and we will never be”.
‘Kurdish mothers will always support the Kurdish cause’
You can meet Dayika Gozê in any Berlin demonstration to protest the Turkish oppression of Kurds.
She also recently took part in the 10-day vigil in Berlin, to end both the violations of rights in Turkish prisons and the isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
When Kurds took to the streets for the freedom of Öcalan, she said, they also demanded freedom for the Kurdish people, and the freedom of the Kurdish language and culture. “We are protesting because our leader is still in the prison”, she said. “If our leader is free, if the prisoners are released, if the oppressive policies on the Kurds come to an end, only then will we leave the streets”.
Gozê believes the commitment of Kurdish mothers to their cause is borderless and that geography is irrelevant to their continuous struggle. ”Until we live freely and can raise our children with our own language, as others do throughout the world, we will be on the streets protesting. As long as we live, Kurdish mothers will always support the Kurdish cause”, she said.
Losing a child in the war
“I raised my children inside the prison’s gates”, said Gozê. “When my husband was arrested, we visited him in the prison for four years. We would go to the prison early in the morning and wait there for hours with my children. My children witnessed the prison conditions”.
She went on to speak about one of her children whom she lost in the war between the Turkish state and PKK forces. “My oldest son joined the guerrilla in 2006. I received the news that he fell in the war as a martyr in 2009”, she said, and remained silent for a while before she was able to continute to speak and say, “I’m proud of my son”.
‘Whether you are a Kurd or a Turk, you can understand a mother’s pain’
Gozê said the pain of a mother is universal: “whether you are a Kurd, a Turk or an Arab, you can understand the pain of a mother, whose child is imprisoned and on a hunger strike.
“Can a mother sleep at night when her children are hungry? Can a mother live in such a situation? She cannot survive. It’s a really difficult situation. It cannot be expressed by words, but anybody can empathise with such a pain”.
She called on the international community to support the demands of the ongoing hungers strikes in Turkish prisons. “To end this pain, the demands of the prisoners on hunger strike should be accepted and the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan should be lifted”.