Saturday, March 29, 2008

Houzan Mahmoud

Middle Eastern cultures and Islamic societies tend to overlap with areas of classic patriarchy. In these societies where patriarchy dominates, a majority of women are bound by chauvinistic customs and values. More women in these oppressed societies are beginning to speak out against the rejection of women's rights. Susan B. Anthony once said, "Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less." One such woman who is fighting for nothing less than the rights of the women of Kurdistan and Iraq, is Houzan Mahmoud.
Houzan is a Kurdish feminist, secularist, journalist and human rights activist. She currently serves as the U.K. representative to the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. She is an outspoken advocate on the oppression of Kurdish and Iraqi women, both under the US/UK occupation and the growing influence of conservative Islamists. She led a campaign against rape and abduction of women in Iraq and against the requirement of Islamic Sharia law in the proposed constitution. Due to her controversial campaigning, she received death threats in an email last year (2007) from Ansar al-Islam (a brutal Kurdish Islamist group). Despite the threats, she was determined to persist in her work. In a letter to MADRE (an international women's human rights organization) in 2007, Houzan stated,
"I will continue doing what I am doing now, going around the world cultivating support for women in Iraq and Kurdistan as well as exposing the violence and gender apartheid that Islamists are imposing on millions of women in the region."
An unyielding woman, indeed.

was born in Southern Kurdistan in 1973. She later fled to London with her partner in 1996 due to the lack of security in the region. In an interview published on, Houzan states,
"At the time when we left, it was very unsafe, so me and my partner, we fled to London. And he was also a political activist, so we could no longer stay there."
Houzan now lives in the United Kingdom, studying politics and sociology at the University of London. In 2003 she co-founded the Iraqi Women’s Rights Coalition in support of women in Iraq and the publication Equal Rights Now to expose the violation of women’s rights in Iraq and Kurdistan to the international community. She's a frequent contributer to British publications, such as the Independent and theGuardian. She has written many articles about the situation of women in Iraq, which have been translated and published in French, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Persian, English, Finish, Swedish and German. She has also been interviewed by CNN, NBC, Sky News and BBC and other various media outlets.

Moreover, she recently co-founded the Iraqi Freedom Congress, a recent initiative to build a democratic, secular and progressive alternative to both the US occupation and political Islam in Iraq and Kurdistan.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Biography Eyse San - Hesterika Ezmanê Hunerî

“Wexta li ezmanên huneri mêze diki tu dibini sterkên hunera kurdi, xwesiktrin u rindirin hestêrkin li ezman, Yek ji wan hestêran tim u tim dibiriqi, ew hestêreka ron u ges hunermenda hêja u nemir Eyse Sane...”

Considered as one of the most legendary female singers in the history of Kurdish music, Eyse San (english spelling: Aysha Shan) was born in 1938 to a large and well-known family from the great city of Amed (Diyarbakir) in Northern Kurdistan. Eyse San was the daughter of Heciya Xanim and Osman from the large tribe of Cibriyan. Eyse San’s father, Osman, was a very popular traditional singer and her love for singing was mostly influenced by him as well as many other traditional Kurdish singers from all corners of Kurdistan. Heciya Xanim, Eyse San’s mother, often sang lullabies to her beloved daughter and stirred up all the passion and devotion that Eyse San had developed for singing. While growing up, Eyse San often found herself along with her sisters behind the doors and walls of the gathering room listening to her father and his fellow friends singing the night away. She paid great attention to their songs, and as their voices would echo through the walls, Eyse San would enter a world of fantasy over and over again. Her father, as well as many other traditional Kurdish singers, were a school of knowledge and inspiration for Eyse San. Regarding these memories, Eyse said:“ I wish the doors and walls of my father’s house could speak so they could tell you about all those days and nights, I always say with grief I wish my fathers walls could speak and recite the stories of those nights my father and the rest his friends spend at our house. I would listen to them from the corners of the walls. I listened so carefully that if someone were to call me, I would be startled. My dad’s delicate and sorrowful voice had a huge impact on me. Years past but his voice never left me.”Early Years in 1958, the young Eyse San, began singing at many gatherings. Eyse San, with her beautiful Kurdish clothes and her most delightful voice, started entering people’s hearts and many grew fond of her pure and beautiful voice.In the beginning, Eyse San’s father and brothers were not too happy about her singing in public. They tried to pull her away from the music world that she so passionately wanted to become a part of. She used all her power to follow her passionate dream and was determined to sing no matter what the cause. At the age of 20, with the will of her father, Eyse San married a young Kurd named Sewket Turan, and they soon had a baby girl together. However, her marriage with Sewket Turan did not work out and she later moved to a city, known as Entabe, leaving her three-month-old baby girl and all of her closest family and friends. In Entabe she tried to maintain a living on her own by sewing clothes. Meanwhile, with the help of a man named Nail Baysu, she sang in Turkish for the Entabe radio for two years, she was still unahppy since her true passion was for Kurdish music. Soon after Eyse San moved to Istanbul, and for the first, she recorded music in Kurdish. Unfortunately, the record label she was signed to took all the rights to her work away from her and sold her music with no benefits and proceeds for Eyse. Nonetheless, she did not give up her love for Kurdish music and she continued to express her sorrow and troubled life through her music and with the help of classical songs that she learned from her father. Eyse San also started to create her own songs, among those were Derdê Hewiyê (The pain of a co-wife) or Qederê Yar (The fate of a lover), all of which were about her rights as a woman, as well as many other Kurdish women in similar situations. Another very well known song by Eyse San that has touched the lives of many is Xerîbim Daye (I am alone Mother). which she sang as a dedication to her mother, whom before her death had requested from her sons to see her beloved Eyse San. Unfortunately, they never allowed Eyse San to return back home and their mothers wish was never granted. Eyse San paid great tribute to her much-loved Kurdistan by singing about the political situations of the Kurds. At times of oppression she sang proudly about her country and her people with no fear. In 1972, Eyse San moved to Munsen, Germany. In Germany, her precious daughter Shahnaz whom Eyse San loved more than anyone in the world passed away. The death of Shahnaz put a pause on Eyse's singing career because her mind was occupied by the grief and sorrow that she felt for losing her daughter. Soon after Shahnaz passed away Eyse returened to Kurdistan and in 1979, the Eyse San who always dreamed of such a day was greeted with warm welcomes from Kurds who lived in Southern Kurdistan. She had managed to meet with the legendary Kurdish singers, Mihemed Arif Cizîrî, Îsa Berwarî, Gulbihar, Tehsîn Teha, Nesrîn Serwan and many more. Together, they performed at many concerts and parties. As she returned to Turkey Eyse San was threatened by the governement. Eyse said, “ When I returned to Turkey, they captured me and expressed their hatred. I said I wish I hadn’t visited Kurdistan and I became regretful, they told me you are fighting for the Kurdish cause…” However, for the first time, she truly felt that all of the suffering that she went through was worthwhile. Eyse San had a great connection with Kurds all over Kurdistan. In 1979 and years to follow, Eyse San was not as active in her singing career as she had been before. In order to maintain a living, she worked in a local post office in the city of Izmîre. Following the year, 1991, many Kurds of Southern Kurdistan left their towns and villages and moved to the cities of Northern Kurdistan. Around this time, Eyse San dedicated a cassette to those who liked her music. With her words and voice, she awakened the Kurds of Northern Kurdistan to help those who had recently relocated to cities nearby. Eyse San was a true Kurdish spirit who went through every difficult circumstance one can imagine, but she was determined and passionate about her singing. And by listening to her music and her delicate voice, it is how her spirit will remain in our hearts and minds forever and always. Eyse San's role as a Kurdish Women in her lifetime is unforgettable, which makes her an inspiration for many to continue the fight for freedom and Kurds.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kurdistan Women

Kurdistan Women ---

The launch of this blog on March 16, 2008 will be dedicated to Kurdish women's role from the past, present, and future. Kurdistan Women blog is an initial step to a greater project that will document the importance of Kurdish women in Kurdish identity, culture, heritage, history, art, revolution, religion, politics and etc...

The lack of the existance of such projects that documents information about Kurdish women requires dedication and contribution of first and foremost Kurdish women and men as well as every individual concerned about collecting such information.