The Kurdish roots of a global slogan

The Kurdish roots of a global slogan

Shukriya Bradost writes:

If I had been killed, would I have had the same impact on the Iranian people as what we have witnessed since the killing in September of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jina-Mahsa Amini? Definitely not. The use of heavy military weaponry to crack down on protests in Kurdish cities in Iran, which has shocked the world and led to mass killings and arrests of Kurds during the current uprising, is nothing new for Kurds. What is new is that what began as Kurdish protests then spread across the country, and later the world, chanting the slogan “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” (“Woman, Life, Liberty”).

Kurdish resistance to the Islamic Republic began on the first day of the regime’s establishment. On March 31, 1979, Iran held a nationwide referendum to vote yes or no to the Islamic Republic, with no other option. The Iranian people had never heard of the Islamic Republic, and the authorities had provided no explanation for the system. Although the number of people who voted yes in that referendum is debatable, Kurdish cities boycotted it altogether. That was the start of Kurdish suffering under the new Iranian regime.

When my friends and I began our struggle against the autocratic regime, we were in the same age range as many of the protesters in Iran today. We were high school students when we first protested against the cruelty of the Islamic Republic. In 2003, we established the Woman and Life (Jin, Jiyan) Committee in the northwestern city of Urmia to fight for our Kurdish and women’s rights. I was forced into exile from my homeland one year later due to my vocal activism for that cause. Shortly thereafter, our publication Khaton (“Woman”) was banned. In many ways, then, the very essence of today’s “Woman, Life, Liberty” slogan was the reason I was expelled from the land of my forefathers in 2004. Since then, I have been far from home – now living in the United States – and have been harassed by the regime, which seeks to silence me with relentless smear campaigns and attempts at online intimidation.

It is bittersweet to retrace the origins of how young Iranian Kurdish women weaved the core of this slogan, under what were then very different and difficult circumstances. [Continue reading…]

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