“The situations surrounding women under constant threat of rape, death and all sorts of oppression are similar. As in Shengal (Sinjar), we have been hearing about women in Afghanistan committing suicide, jumping from roofs to avoid being captured by the Taliban,” writes Zozan Sima for Özgür Politika.
A new massacre was committed in Shengal (Sinjar, in Iraqi Kurdistan) yesterday which resulted in the death of Hesen Seîd, a YBS [Yazidi Resistance Units] commander and father of Martyr Beriwan and Isa Xwedêda, a YBS fighter. As the Turkish state has undertaken the task of massacring Yazidis, a task the Islamic State failed to fulfil, it continues to attack Shengal with the support of Iraq and the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP], and the consent of the United States and other international powers.
The cameras have captured the anger of a Yazidi mother next to a wrecked car and a funeral. She was calling for retribution on the killers, on their accomplices. The people around who were trying to soothe her got their share of that anger as well. That angry woman who cried at the faces of the Iraqi soldiers saying, “This is the result of your plans, your betrayal. Let Melek Tawus destroy you all”, was Yadê Şemêi.
The target of the attack, in the person of Hesen Seîd, was a Shengal with an autonomous administration, a mechanism of self-defence and organised people. It was no coincidence that the attack was carried out on the anniversary of Mam Zeki’s* martyrdom and during a visit by Kadhimi (the Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi] in the region.
In another place, also under threat of massacres, another woman called for retribution on the killers and on those who consented to it. Women’s rights activist Seraj Mahbouba shouted out at the world with clenched fists: “Everyone, shame on you for what you’ve done to Afghanistan, to this part of the world within the past 20 years. Powerful males of the world who’ve responded to our demands only when there was a benefit in it for them destroyed everything which we’ve worked so hard for. You’re all disgusting!”
How the fates of Afghanistan and Shengal are similar. Like the KDP peshmergas who fled without defending Shengal, the army in Afghanistan offered the country on a plate without using the guns the US supplied.
And the situations surrounding women under constant threat of rape, death and all sorts of oppression are similar. As in Shengal, we have been hearing about women in Afghanistan committing suicide, jumping from roofs to avoid being captured by the Taliban. Like the women who jumped from cliffs in Dersim. The international powers, institutions, states who constantly shed crocodile tears and express “concerns” whilst remaining spectators are accomplices. They probably will be talking about providing humanitarian aid for setting up new refugee camps, rehabilitation centres, after the massacres. This is why the outrage of Yade Şemê and Seraj Mahbouba are similar. The anger felt against this hypocritical establishment, this dirty alliance which sacrifices women.
It was the women who stood up most bravely against the events of the last few days in Afghanistan. Film director Sahraa Karimi and mayor Zarifa Ghafari were amongst the women who appealed to the world against the attacks. The women’s liberation movement in Afghanistan, especially RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) and Peyam’e Zan (Women’s Message), has been playing an important part in this. RAWA’s founder, Meena Keshwar Kamal, who was assassinated in 1987, had expressed the women’s transformation in one of her poems: “I’m the woman who has awoken/I’m not who I was.”
It’s highly possible that organisations like ISIS will gain power as a result of current developments in Afghanistan. The need for anti-imperialist women’s organisations with self-defence mechanisms are more urgent than ever in the Middle East. Thus, the women’s liberation movements in the region ought to focus more on this agenda: develop alliances and means of solidarity, and get ready for the dangers we may have to face.
* İsmail Özden (nom de guerre Mam Zêki Shingali), who is known for the leading role he played in the resistance to the genocide of the Yazidis by ISIS, was assassinated on 15 August 2018 in a Turkish airstrike.