On the occasion of ‘Kurdish Female Journalists Day,’ Jin News editor Ayşe Güney stated that Kurdish female journalists have highlighted the concerns of previously voiceless women and have managed to create a public awareness of the problems of women, whilst also building up a record of the history of women’s resistance.
Recalling Gurbetelli Ersöz, whose death on 7 October 1997 inspired the establishment of ‘Kurdish Female Journalists Day,’ Ayşe Güney noted that Ersöz has been an inspirational force in the Kurdish press over the years.
“It wasn’t only courage that made her distinct,” Güney said. “It was also faith, determination, questioning, her efforts to create something beautiful, and starting the process with herself while trying to transform the man beside her.”
Ersöz, a chemist by profession, was arrested in 1989 when she was 24 years old and was imprisoned for more than two years. After her release, she started working as the editor in-chief of the daily Özgür Gündem, which was the only newspaper that openly reported on the atrocities that were being committed by state forces in Kurdish-majority provinces in Turkey.
She was detained once again in a raid at the newspaper’s office in Istanbul on 10 December 1993 alongside many other journalists, who later received support from the Committee to Protect Journalists and intellectuals like Harold Pinter, Noam Chomsky and Louis Begley during their prosecution.
Following her release in June 1994, Ersöz decided to go underground as she was given a prison sentence of three years and nine months by a court. She joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 1995. She died in Iraqi Kurdistan on 8 October 1997.
Ayşe Güney indicated that while Kurdish female journalists continued to walk the path of Ersöz, Kurdish women have achieved significant things both in Turkey and elsewhere as they have amplified the women’s struggle for freedom.
Güney also paid homage to Ayfer Serçe, a Kurdish female journalist who was killed in July 2006 by Iranian soldiers at the border, and who had dreamt of establishing a women’s news agency. Referring to Jin News, Güney said this dream was realised on 8 March 2012.
“No dream remains solely as a dream in the women’s struggle,’ she said. “They come to be realised sooner or later. So we have a habit of always giving voice to our dreams.”
Gurbetelli Ersöz had also earned the title of the first female editor in-chief of a daily newspaper in Turkey, as noted by Kurdish journalist Sara Aktaş in her article.
Aktaş drew attention in her article to the fact that the only women’s news agency in Turkey was established despite – and in the face of – attempts by the Turkish state to destroy it: “JINHA, which was founded with the motto, ‘We write without giving consideration to what men would think’, was shut down by the Turkish state in 2016. So it pursued its mission with Jin News.
“Then, the Kurdish women, determined to tell the truth to the people, established Jin TV on 9 January 2018, to confront [discriminating] social codes and the mainstream media which fed on sexual discrimination. It was founded with the vision of focusing on women’s ethical values and served as a mirror for the women’s world.”