In Syria, the martyrdom of Havrin Khalaf, victim of the Ankara war dogs

LAURENCE GEAI FOR "THE WORLD"

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Posted on 22 November 2019 at 02h05 – Updated 22 November 2019 at 18h49

That day, Sunday, October 13, the desperation of the Kurds of Syria had a face. On the road to the "martyrs" cemetery of the small town of Derik, hundreds were hurrying by car, truck, motorcycle, to pay a last tribute to Havrin Khalaf, young political leader, murdered the day before. Located away from the sleepy town of northeastern Syria, the necropolis to the glory of the dead Kurdish movement was to close on the ravaged remains of the 35-year-old woman.

We are here in a hilly landscape, honey and dust, in the heart of this imaginary Kurdistan for which so many women and men have perished. To the north, the horizon is Turkish. To the east, the mountains are Iraqi. This Sunday in October, the funeral ritual of the movement is respected to the letter: Kurdish national anthem, revolutionary songs, salute to arms, lamentations of old women draped in their veils, fingers in V, raised in silence in tribute to fallen fighters …

But these funerals are not another burial in an endless war: they are stamped with the seal of the abomination. Since the day before, the images of the vehicle "Havrin's martyrdom", as they call it now, are looping on phones. It is seen riddled with bullet holes, surrounded by a pack of armed men and mesh. All are part of pro-Ankara groups left a few days earlier, with the Turkish army, to attack the north-east of Syria, then stronghold of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish majority military force.

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Havrin Khalaf was the main female figure, young and progressive, of a small political formation born in the orbit of the Kurdish movement, the Party of the future of Syria, with a decentralizing vision for the future of the country. Those who know her evoke a lively, intelligent personality and a hard worker.

An unmarried, childless woman, she embodied the emancipation of women and their arrival in positions of responsible responsibility and staged by the Kurdish movement. To take the measure of the emotion caused by his death, we must return to this Saturday, October 12. Little by little, the testimonies emerge, the scenario becomes precise …

A dam on the M4 motorway

That morning, Havrin Khalaf was inside a black 4 × 4 on his way to his party headquarters in Ain Issa, a town north of Rakka. A driver of the organization is driving: Ferhad Ramazan.

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