Berîtan, a Kurdish woman who recently took part in a protest in London against Iraqi Kurdistan’s prime minister Masrour Barzani, and threw one of her Mekap sport shoes at his convoy, says: “After their betrayal they [the Barzani family] went down as a black stain in the history of Kurdistan. Betrayal can be stopped only by standing against it.”
Mekap is a cheap brand of sport shoes which has come to be identified in time, particularly in Turkey, with Kurdish fighters who wear them in harsh survival conditions during their missions in mountains.
Berîtan is a Kurd from Ranya, Iraq, living in England. She is a persistent and enthusiastic Kurdish woman who is at the forefront of every Kurdish action in London in her guerilla outfit and Mekap shoes. The name ‘Berîtan’ was given to her by the Kurdish fighters she met when she still lived in Ranya, a part of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
Speaking to Diren Dicle Erden of the daily Özgür Politika, she said:
“Ranya is very close to Qendil [The Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has headquarters and several bases]. I saw the lives of the guerrillas. They thought I looked like Berîtan [Nomme-de-guerre of the legendary Kurdish fighter Gülnaz Karataş who died in October 1992 in clashes with Turkish troops]. It was the guerrillas who gave me this name. I carry it with honour. Yellow Mekap shoes are our future. We protect our future, our dignity.”
Berîtan joined in the protests outside the Royal Institute of International Relations, Chatham House, on 20 April, against Masrour Barzani, who is widely accused of supporting Turkey in its latest military operation in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Berîtan was able to throw the Mekap shoe filled with eggs at one of the cars in Barzani’s convoy, and scored a direct hit before she was detained by police.
She says that when she was asked by the police if the shoe belonged to her, she replied: “Yes, it is mine, and it is worth more than Barzani.”
She describes the moment when she made eye contact with Barzani:
“The police built a wall of flesh and tried to stop us. But I found a way and reached Chatham House. I threw the shoe and the eggs when Masrour came out. At that moment, the police pushed me to the ground and put handcuffs on my hands. When they lifted me up, Masrour Barzani looked at me from inside the car. When our eyes met, I spat and said, ‘Jash [Kurdish word for a donkey’s colt, also meaning collaborator, traitor in colloquial use] Barzani!..'”
Confirming the symbolic nature of Mekap shoes due to being identified with the guerrillas, Berîtan said:
“These shoes signify the Kurdish people’s struggle for honour and glory. Brown Mekap trainers also signify women’s freedom, human dignity, peace and freedom revolution.”