Many international media reports on the killing of Jîna (Mahsa) Amini and the ensuing protests that have rocked Iran for three weeks are missing the essential role in the story played by the 22-year-old’s Kurdish identity, activist and journalist Meral Çiçek wrote for Novara Media.
The Iranian state’s widespread ban on Kurdish names has forced many families to register their children with non-Kurdish names, and only use their true names at home. As a result, Western news agencies have reported on Amini’s death using her official name ‘Mahsa’, instead of her Kurdish name Jîna.
This reporting unwittingly helps spread the idea that Jîna “did not lose her life under detention because she was Kurdish, but only because she was a woman,” Çiçek said.
For Çiçek, it is likely that the morality police who arrested Jîna were aware of her ethnic identity. “It is possible that they treated her with particular brutality because of it,” she said.
The Kurdish slogan for women’s liberation and revolution “Jin, jîyan, azadî” has spread across the world thanks to its widespread use during the protests against Amini’s killing. Although the Kurdish movement has no desire to monopolise the slogan and in fact aims to universalise it, the roots and context of the words should be acknowledged, Çiçek said.
“Kurdish women have fought so hard not to be erased in life; do not let their stories be rewritten in death,” she said.
Read Meral Çiçek’s article in full here.