It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflicts.
In late November, Operation 1325 went to Istanbul, Turkey to hold a meeting with the organization's partners. The trip has been planned a long time, but the political situation in the country meant that the original itinerary had to be changed slightly. Luckily, our partners at Jinha, living in southeastern Turkey, could come to Istanbul.
Jinha is a small news agency, focused on women's rights and women's perspectives in its news reporting. Operation 1325 works with Jinha to counteract stereotypical images of women in media and increase the possibility of women's political representation.
During the meeting, Jinha tells us about their situation right now, which is very strained. They don’t feel safe since their news agency was shut down on October 29. In mid-November, some of their reporters were detained. One was detained in Izmir where she reported on a demonstration. Five other colleagues were arrested when they interviewed women farmers in Adana. All were in custody for about a day but then released.
A person who was detained for a long time is Jinhas editor, Zehra Doğan. She was captured in the city of Mardin on July 21 but was released on December 9. According to what we know about the indictment, she was accused of being a member of an "illegal organization". Previously, our contacts in Jinha said that people, who have testified against her, were previous victims of torture. According to what we know from Jinha, they said in their testimonies "she must be a journalist, I saw she was taking pictures". Another person said "she did interviews and took photos of Giremira". Luckily Zehra Doğan is now released.
Under these circumstances, it feels good to be able to support Jinha in the form of a joint project aimed at getting the message of women’s rights out to a broader public. And they say they are not afraid of anything. It's obvious that they mean it. Their courage and our international support create the will and energy to continue, even under the circumstances.
In The Mediation Lab, another of our projects, women from the Women's Peace Initiative, HDP's women's group in the national parliament and the Women's Free Congress KJA, have participated in mediation training at a first joint conference held in Alexandria, Egypt. Now, the delegates will organize a conference on mediation and conflict management themselves and by this spreading the knowledge within their own civil societies. During this trip, we had no opportunity to meet one of the delegates of the Mediation Lab, Ayla Akat, who works for the KJA. Alya Akat is one of many activists who are imprisoned because of their work. She works to organize women as political actors. This, coupled with her being active for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish guerrillas, has made her a target for political accusations and persecution.
To inform key stakeholders about the importance of Resolution 1325 and women's participation in peace processes and security, we also had meetings with other institutions in Istanbul. We talked about the importance of women's participation and promoted the women who received training through the Mediation Lab. There are many initiatives on different parts of 1325 and there are projects going on, including the CEDAW work and also work on a national action plan on Resolution 1325. Seen to the current circumstances in Turkey right now, it is a very important and courageous work that we admire deeply.
Charlotte Lind Alexandra Iriarte
Project manager Project manager