Women breaks the wall of fear in Mahabad

NEWS CENTER - F., who participated in a demonstration for the first time in Mahabad and said that she put her fears aside after shouting the slogan "Jin Jiyan Azadi", spoke about the day Kubra Şêxa Seqa was killed by the regime, whom she refers to as a revolutionary vanguard.
In Mahabad, the main agenda is the ongoing protests and the demands of the people.  After my meetings with university students, youth and shopkeepers, I also met with women and high school students who took part in the first protests in the city; I want to hear why they participated in these demonstrations, their stories and demands. Talking to women, I understand that the women participating in these demonstrations have more deeper and greater reasons than anyone else.
I am meeting with two of the women who participated in the protests that started about two months ago in Mahabad and shouted the slogan "Jin Jiyan Azadi" here for the first time. The woman F., tells how she participated in a protest for the first time and her excitement: "A group of young men gathered in Azadî Road, one of the busiest spots in the city centre, and said, 'Kurd û Kurdistan Goristana Faşîstan (Kurdistan will be a graveyard for fascism)'. I saw him shouting the slogan. I had my daughter with me and I gathered my courage and immediately approached them, looked to my right and left and shouted the slogan 'Jin Jiyan Azadi' in a low voice. When I repeated it for the second time, I saw three people laughing at me. This time I raised my voice a little more and I realized that every time I got a little more courageous, my voice was a little louder. In a short time, I saw an increase in the number of young people participating in the protest and a few more women came to me and started shouting the same slogan with me. I realized that the fear that had taken me captive at first disappeared. Young people were constantly shouting 'Kurd û Kurdistan Goristana Faşîstan', and women were taking off their compulsory hijabs and saying 'Jin Jiyan Azadi'.
When I asked him when she heard the slogan she shouted for the first time, F. says that she saw the word "Jin Jiyan Azadi" for the first time at the bottom of a letter left by his daughter, who is almost the same age as Jîna, and adds: "My daughter was at Al Zehra University in Tehran 3 years ago. She joined the guerrilla while he was a student at the Faculty of Arts. She left a letter behind. She wrote 'Jin Jiyan Azadi' at the end of her letter. Of course, this slogan did not mean much to me at the time. However, when I heard the same slogan raised at the grave of Jîna Emini, I understood better that the purpose for which she left her university was not an empty one. When I saw a demonstration for the first time in Mahabad, I took the first opportunity and immediately joined the youth and shouted the slogan that my daughter wrote under her letter three years ago."
F. explains that she raised his daughter well and that she did not have any problems with freedom as an individual, and says: "I raised my daughter as a free individual. She had no shortcomings and she was studying at a good university in a department she liked. However, she was upset when she saw the pressures women were subjected to around her. In fact, this was what prompted her to join the struggle. Because sometimes when we talked she would say, 'My freedom means nothing if even one woman is not free.' My daughter was a sensitive woman. She was in Tehran when Kobanê was under ISIS siege and she called me on the phone one day, 'Mom tomorrow there will be a demonstration for Kobanê in Mahabad, so you should join.' I didn't participate in the demonstration because I was afraid. I downloaded a video and sent to my daughter. She said: "I saw that video, I wanted you to send me a video that includes you in it. I was very ashamed. When I saw the young people shouting slogans for Jîna, I thought about my daughter and joined them." 
Recalling Kubra Şêxa Seqa, one of the citizens killed on October 27, F. said, "Kubra was a revolutionary woman. She and her son both participated in the protests for Simko that day. He was taken to the mosque, where a young man played the Sirûda Şoreşgeri (Revolutionary March) anthem from the mosque loudspeakers. Of course, the imam of the mosque did not want to give permission, but the young man played the anthem over the loudspeaker saying, "I saw how Kubra was shot with my own eyes and she is a martyr." The number of people in front of the mosque increased. The people, about 7 kilometers from that mosque to the cemetery, walked with the slogan of 'Jin Jiyan Azadi', taking Kubra's coffin on their shoulders. That woman who was wanted to be crushed, wanted to be trampled, was now a transforming into a revolutionary pioneer and is being sent off to eternity on the shoulders of tens of thousands of people.
D., a 17-year-old high school student who kept silence until that moment, laughs and says, "I am the one whose head was broken during the protests, I am the one whose blood was spilled, but you don't ask me any questions", and the people inside start to laugh. I did not know that this 17-year-old high school student D., who draws attention with her enthusiasm, is her daughter, and as a final question, I asked "What brought you and this 17-year-old young woman together in the first demonstration you participated?", and the answer I got from F. was "She's my daughter".
F's 17-yeear-old daughter starts telling her story in excitement: "The people participating in the protests are very excited. Imagine that there is a direct fire and there is a possibility that you will be shot, but still nobody takes a step back. A woman named Kübra was arrested during the protests in Mahabad. She was a woman who led the protests. One of those arrested with her was released the other day, and she said that Kübra displayed the same resistance in prison and did not give in. Therefore, they took Kübra to another place so that the she did not encourage other prisoners. But no matter what they do, we will not bow down and we will take back our freedom."
Ş, mother of three children, whose husband was a peshmerga for 9 years, is another woman who participates in all protests. Stating that her two daughters are married and lives with her 28-year-old single son and his husband, Ş. laughs and says, "My husband thinks he has fulfilled his responsibility because he has been a Peshmerge for 9 years, so he has not participated in the protests until now. But I come to all of the protests. Stating that the police now know her and from time to time they see her in places where a demo will take place, they ask, "What are you doing here?" Ş. says: "When the police ask me 'What are you waiting for,' I say, 'I am waiting for what you are waiting for.'I learn the place and time of the actions from my friends who call me. I arrive at the place where the demo will take place an hour earlier and wander around. I check where the plain cloth police and besic are located so that we can take precautions. I am trying to help the youth as best as I can."
When I ask her if she's not afraid of being arrested or killed, Ş told me that she had conquered her fear and told me how it happened: " We gathered at a place called Memba for a protest. The people had not arrived there when I went there. It was just me and 4 young men. They started firing at us with a shotgun. One of the young men was injured. Two of them took him away but there were so many police officers and they surrounded one and started beating him. I threw myself on him and started shouting "He is my son, you are going to kill my son". So they started beating me as well. I was no longer afraid of being arrested or killed. In Iran, people are released with bale when they pay a certain amount of money. I made my husband and children promise that they won't pay that money for my release to this killer government.
Ş, finally emphasised that their only demand is not the removal of mandatory hijab but they demand freedom of thought and that they will continue to resist.
Since universities are closed, I want to meet with a student studying at the biggest high school in the city. I met with V., a 12th grade student at Fatima Girls' High School, which has 400 female students. Stating that she heard the slogan "Jin Jiyan Azadi" with the protests for Jîna Emini, V. said, "Of course, we had some discussions with our friends on this subject and we started to shout this slogan after school during breaks. Again, we produced some slogans ourselves. For women who do not wear hijab, the Geşt e İrshad says 'hêz' (immoral) and 'herzê' (dishonest). Against this, we shout the slogan 'Hêz tu yî her zê tu yî jînê azad min im' (You are the immoral and dishonest one, I am a free woman). 
They have been trying to put the slogan of 'patriotic man' against the slogan of 'Jin Jiyan Azadi' lately. They say, 'Jin Jiyan Azadî, Merd Mîhenî Abadi. There is no such thing on the agenda of us students, young people and the public. We say 'Merg ber sîtemger çi shah chief guide' against those who want this, both in our schools and in demonstrations. r Want to be a King or Guide'." Recently, they have been trying to put the slogan of 'patriotic man' against the slogan of 'Jin Jiyan Azadi'. They say 'Jin Jiyan Azadi, Merd Mihenî Abadi'. Of course, some segments that introduce themselves as dissidents do this, and these segments want the Shah to come to power again. However, there is no such thing on the agenda of us students, young people and the public. Against those who want this, we say 'Merg ber sîtemger çi şah baş e çi rehber'(Death to the colonists, be it the Shah or the Guide).
When I asked about the position of their teachers and school administration, V. states that many teachers threaten them and try to intimidate them by reporting them to the police and intelligence forces. V says, "Police continue to wait in front of our school since the first day we started supporting the protests. But that didn't stop us from shouting slogans. Stating that they start boycotts when the police attacks the students, V says that she hasn't been to school for the last week.
Stating that both of her friends were arrested during a demonstration, V. states that one of them was released after a while, but his friend Aran was detained in Urmia for more than 45 days.
When I asked the purpose of the protests and what they were aiming for, V. said: "We are very happy that the slogan 'Jin Jiyan Azadi' has become so widespread. We want freedom. We believe that society will not be liberated without the liberation of women. Because the first people in history to be enslaved is the women.  When I asked if her friends agree with her, V. said, "None of my friends approach the issue sectarian or sexist. Undoubtedly, some families are against their children's thinking like this. But they are against everything, even boys and girls being in the same place. But the young people do not listen to their families."
Finally, stating that she has been following the cinema in both Bakur and Rojava closely, V. says that she wants to go to film school after high school and that she wants to visit Rojava.
As we continue our conversation, V.'s third grade primary school brother also writes "Jin Jiyan Azadi" on a blackboard and shows it to me. Then he shows the schoolbooks. I see that all the photos of Khomeini on the first page of the books are torn.
There are Azad, Peyamnur and Miad universities in Mahabad. Students studying at these universities are also from Mahabad. There is no activity in the universities in Mahabad as these universities have been closed since the protests started. In big cities like Sine, which is the administrative center of the Kurdistan province, university students lead almost all the protests.
* In Iran, except for villages, girls and boys are educated in separate classes from primary school to university in cities and towns. Due to the classroom problems in the villages, children up to the 9th and 10th grades can receive education in mixed classes.
Tomorrow: Families of Zekeriya Xeyal and Komar Deruftade, who were killed in Piranşar, tell their story
MA / Abdurrahman Gok