Intellectuals from Afrin work for the displaced people in Shehba

​​​​​​​Despite the difficult conditions, refugees from Afrin who fled to Shehba are organising courses and cultural activities in the camp.

After the attacks and invasion of Afrin carried out by the Turkish state, Afrin citizens had to flee to Shehba.

Here conditions are hard and people have to live in refugee camps and semi-destroyed houses as war already passed through this region.

Despite the harsh conditions, people and their organisations are trying to create opportunities to keep the language and culture alive.

Founded in Afrin in 2016, the Intellectuals Union of Afrin continues its work at the Serdem Camp in Shehba.

The Intellectuals Union among other things has now set up a library in the camp.

Afrin Intellectuals Union co-chair, Usema Ahmed, said that they are struggling to move the resistance into the future.

Ahmed, a poet and critic himself, said: “We went to the area of ​​Shehba with our people. We didn't have a center for two months. We were working within the people. Then we established a center”.

In this war, he added, “we gave too many martyrs, both among civilians and fighters. We want to create an archive to put this process on record as well as improve the work in literature, history and cinema”.

In order to achieve all this, the Union decided to share tasks and jobs among the members.

“Abdullah Shikaki will write the chapter on history. Heysem Mistefa and Mehdi Erselan will work on the cinema chapter. These two friends have worked in film and short films. We aim at creating a written history with a literary dimension.”

Ahmed remarked that they have been working to grow the interest among young people with the development of the Kurdish language in Afrin during the past five years, adding; “We began a creative writing course. This course is joined by 17 students and has been going on for four months. One of our students wrote 23 short stories. After the short story classes, we started a script course. We are working on theatre. We are also preparing a book with the story of those who lost their life in the Resistance of the Age.”

Usema Ahmed stressed that it is very important and valuable for the people to struggle despite these conditions and to try to protect their own culture.

Xelîl, 13 years old from Afrin and an 8th grade student goes everyday to a script writing class.

Xelîl is aware of what he has experienced in spite of his age. “We were very sad to leave Afrin. Here we tell our feelings by putting them down in writing, with poems and stories. I write poetry. The subject of all my poems is Afrin. For five years, we had been receiving education in Kurdish back in Afrin.”

Selam İbo, who works in theatre and joins the script writing training said that Shehba is a page of the resistance, while dengbêj-author Mihemmed Welid said self-development is part of resistance.

Library in the Camp

Avesta Ibrahim, a member of the Intellectuals Union, is responsible for the library set up at Serdem Camp.

“This library, which was opened at the Serdem Camp, is unique in the world. Because so far, no refugee camp had a library set up inside the camp itself. We managed to open this library despite the very difficult conditions. We collected all the books we could recover from houses destroyed by war and under the debris. Children's books and especially Kurdish books are in great demand. We hope organisations from outside would help us to enrich and enlarge the library.”

Paintings from the Resistance

Painter Erdalan Ibrahim, also a member of the Intellectuals Union, paints the Afrin resistance in his atelier. Ibrahim, who has been preparing a painting exhibition project describes the Afrin resistance in all its dimensions.

He said that his paintings tell about the resistance and struggle of his people despite all the difficulties and attacks.