Women's organizations demand release of RJAK activists

Cenî, Fighting Together and Women Defend Rojava demand the immediate release of RJAK activists detained by KDP forces in Hewlêr.

Several women's organizations have called on the KDP to immediately release Xewla Mihemed Hesen, Ciwana Ebdulbaqî and Seyran Ehmed Hesen. The leading representatives of the women's movement in Southern Kurdistan were arrested a few days ago after participating in commemorations of the feminicide and genocide in Shengal near Hewlêr (Erbil). Since then they have disappeared.

"In recent days, women's organizations in many places around the world participated in the commemoration of the genocide and feminicide of  Yazidis. The annihilation attack by the Islamic State terror militias on the main settlement area of the Yazidis in Shengal seven years ago, on August 3, 2014, is still a terrible memory for many. People of all ages were tortured and murdered in front of their relatives, 7,000 women and girls were abducted, enslaved and sold on markets, boys were forced to join the militia, until today 2,800 women and children are missing, 400,000 people were driven from their homes, many died of thirst while still fleeing in the mountains", underlined the feminist organization "Fighting Together", Women Defend Rojava and the Kurdish Women's Office for Peace Cenî in a joint statement.

The statement continued: "The umbrella organization of the women's movement of Southern Kurdistan, RJAK (Rêxistina Jinên Azad a Kurdistanê) also expressed its solidarity in the commemoration and struggle against feminicide and for autonomy of the Yazidis to defend themselves as well. They traveled to Shengal on August 3, 2021 and participated in the events organized there. On their way back from these events, three leading activists of the women's movement were arrested near Hewlêr by KDP local security forces (Asayish). Since then, there has been no information on their whereabouts. They are Xewla Mihemed Hesen and Ciwana Ebdulbaqî from the RJAK board, and activist Seyran Ehmed Hesen."

"Commemoration has become a target"

With this "disappearance" of the representatives of the women's freedom movement, South Kurdistan’s ruling party shows that both "active women's rights work and a commemoration of the genocide and feminicide of 2014" are a thorn in its side. This current attack against the women's movement is intended to intimidate politically active women. It should also not be forgotten that it was the KDP that ordered its soldiers to withdraw from Shengal in 2014, leaving the Yazidis defenseless and at the mercy of the IS militias and their misogyny.

"The Yazidis have drawn their conclusions from the 2014 experience and have since established organizations of autonomous self-organization. This includes the armed autonomous Shengal Women's Units, YJŞ (Yekinêyen Jinên Şengalê) and the Shengal Resistance Units, YBŞ (Yekîneyên Berxwedana Şengalê) for their self-defense. The Shengal Democratic Autonomous Council, MXDŞ (Meclîsa Xweseriya Demokratîk a Şengalê) held a congress on the weekend before the commemoration of the 7th anniversary of the genocide and feminicide. They do not want to create their own state, but to be recognized in their autonomy.

We call on the KDP to immediately release the women's rights activists Xewla Mihemed Hesen, Ciwana Ebdulbaqî and Seyran Ehmed Hesen!"