Kobanî: A New Start

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A city in north Syria, Kobanî, is populated mainly by the Kurdish people. With the emergence of ISIL, the city became the first bulwark against this terrorist group.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: Despite the difficulties the neighboring Turkey has imposed by political suspicion, the People’s Protection Unit and the Women’s Protection Unit known as YPG and YPJ turned Kobani into the first containment wall of the world against the expansion of terror of Daesh.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Salih, Turkish Kurd: “4 months have passed. Turkey didn’t want the Kurds to win there (in Kobani). To the extent that the president Erdogan said that Kobani had already fallen or was at the point of falling. But it was proved to be false. The Kurds will resist until the last drop of blood in their veins.”

Narration: Now that everybody just laughs as they make fun of the Takfiris in the theatrical representations, it’s time to think about the future they want for Kobani.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Salih, Turkish Kurd: “The Kurds like to share a democracy with the Turks, Arabs and all the people.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Turkish Kurd: “Kobani? Look ahead after this hill.”

Narration: The siege of Kobani cost more than 2500 lives. Around Kobani where Daesh is still present, the people continue to fight to clean the entire region of Daesh. In each town taken back, the fighters uncover evidence of atrocities at the hands of Daesh. The violence of these Takfiris and their agenda has horrified the world.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Local resident of Kobani: “Now leave us alone.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Local resident of Kobani: “The immortal martyrs! The immortal martyrs!”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Local resident of Kobani: “We admire the sentiments of our martyrs´ families and friends. We know these devastating feelings. As the martyrs´ families we have felt the same sentiments that your have at the moment. In front of these seven martyrs´ coffins I can hardly say anything. What can I say? Three of these martyrs were fathers of little children. They join four other heroes who earlier sacrificed their lives.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [English] Idris Nassan, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for the Kobani: “And now, after liberating the city completely from Daesh terrorists which was on the 27th of January 2015, now we declared this board, the board duty is command, register, measure what happened inside the city. And in the coming days after liberating the country side, to know how much is the damage to the city and design plans and strategies to rebuild the city again with connection with the international organizations, institutions and countries that want to help Kobani.”

Narration: Before the siege 400.000 people lived in Kobani. Most of them escaped when Daesh came here. Just a few hundred stayed behind, hiding in their houses, suffering the lack of humanitarian aid as Turkey refused to permit its entry. Now that Daesh is no longer present, the people will return to their houses although many have been destroyed.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Adle Caso, Resident of Kobani: “We would like to come back soon to this neighborhood, we have lost a lot of martyrs.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Sadika, Resident of Kobani: “If it wasn’t because of aerial bombardments we would have been dead. The shelling of Daesh positions destroyed walls and buildings. I sought over inside with my children, My husband was here, and my son who is a teacher.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Zehra, Resident of Kobani: “My husband got us safely to a refugee camp in Turkey and he returned to Kobani to join the fight. We were only three women alone once he left us and went back. And soon after, my daughter died. In the hospital in Turkey they didn’t take care of the Syrian patients well. The doctors treated only Turkish Patients, they stayed away from us. My daughter Talivan Was just 8 months old. She died from the cold climate. We took her to a doctor, but they didn’t look after her properly. If my daughter had been in a hospital here in Syria, we wouldn’t have had to bury her; she would have recovered to a healthy state. We decided not to bury her in Turkey, but in Kobani. Our muddy land is better than that of any foreign city. We are proud that Kobani has been liberated.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Fathi Misiro, Manager of Bakery: “We start a three in the morning. We finish at four in the afternoon. Eighteen of us work hard for 13 or 14 hours a day. Every day we make around ten thousand large loaves of bread at no charge.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Moslem, Bread Deliveryman: “This bread is for the military. We take it to the logistic control center and we store it there. Then, personnel arrive in vehicles from different fighting fronts to take their share.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Schoolchildren Singing: “We don’t let the children talk about the Kurdish dead. To us they are alive, the live, and will never lower their flag. We are the descendants of the Medes and Cyaxares.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Berivan, Student of Kobani: “During the time of the attacks, we are having nightmares, when there were bombardments; we had to run all the way home from school. We couldn’t play outside. Now we can play normally. We can go anywhere, but we don’t stray far where there is still of attack by projectiles of Daesh.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Roshin, Student of Kobani: “When my mother left me at home alone I was really afraid of Daesh coming.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Berivan, Student of Kobani: “Many of relatives have become martyrs fighting against Daesh. Including our comrades Agri, Shivan and Kawa. They were my father’s cousins. When Daesh were here, we couldn’t eat any yogurt or fruit. They deprived us of fruit and chocolate. Well, we managed to get chocolate. Whenever there is a funeral for a martyr, chocolate is shared out, and we eat. We go to the funerals of the martyrs, but we don’t want our comrades to become martyrs.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Naye, Teacher: “When there were bombardments, we used to run to hide in a basement. The children were too afraid during the shelling. Although the children urged: “Let’s go out, let’s go out”, we didn’t let them leave the school. We had to hide in the basement for safety. And then after a few hours, once the bombardments finished we came out.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Berivan, Student of Kobani: “I was afraid of the projectiles of Daesh. We didn’t want them to capture Kobani. We didn’t want to go to Turkey either -the place of dishonesty. We can’t abandon our muddy land. Also, we didn’t want our friends to become martyrs. I wanted to stay in Kobani. Since we came here, from our small town, we never want to go to any other place. We will stay in Kobani.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Some young people, singing: “They won’t die, they won’t die, our soldiers won’t die. They won’t die, they won’t die, our heroes won’t die. The lions (militants) have gone to Shingal and Kandil (mountains), they have gone down to (the cities) of Kobani and Sere Kaniye. The enemy will run from us. Our goal is to win.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Berman, Kurd Resistance Fighter: “We are on top of Kaniya Kurdan hill. The fight to liberate this hill, and from there all Kobani, was a cruel one. We are proud of our martyrs. We wouldn’t have arrived here without them. Our purpose is awake 24 hours a day. In Kobani we did not just against Daesh. Comrade Nefel! You are laughing, and you are making me laugh! As a comrade, I am not just fighting against Daesh. We are fighting against 5.000 years of patriarchal mentality. We are fighting against Daesh and machismo. The war has been tough for women in Kobani. Here the women are strong. Because of the fight against Daesh we have become an example to all women. The female comrades have shown their strength fighting in Kobani. Now by our example, any woman anywhere in the world has to know that she shouldn’t be mistreated. They enslave women to mistreat them and to treat them like people less capable. But women are capable of anything. Honestly, If it were not for us, Kobani would have fallen. We have never taken a step back in the trenches no matter the bad weather or other difficulties. We never retreated and we will never abandon our land.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Amara, Kurd Resistance Fighter: “Any woman that can contribute their skills can participate in committees. For example, those who want to dedicate time to the martyrs’ families can work in the committee of martyrs’ families. Other that have a good command of language can join the committee of correspondence. Any woman that has military ability and wants to defend people can join the military committee. We don’t have only a notion of war. Our task is not just to take up arms and fight. We have to use our intelligence to fight in the international context. As a military force we also attend classes on politics and we read a lot of books, for example, books on leadership, and books of philosophy. We have to be aware of the things around us; fighting and just fighting, is not enough. If you don’t know the politics, you can’t understand the meaning of our fight.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Viyan, Kurd Resistance Fighter: “Inside the house I was an ordinary, common, and girl. I was not allowed to go out. I couldn’t study, in fact I haven’t studied. Why? My family told me that because I as a woman, I had to obey these rules. My brothers, however, were free to study and go wherever they wanted. At home I didn’t anything, I was just there, without having the right to express my ideas, or take part in social gatherings. This is common among the Kurdish people but, it is even more patriarchal in Kobani.”

TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Ararat Kato, Kurd Resistance Fighter: “The greatest and the most legendary victory in Kobani belongs to women. Because, this movement is a feminist one. When Daesh hears the voice of women, they think "No! There are women here! "and they panic. When Daesh hears that there is a woman somewhere in Kobani , the fears extends there. Daesh has attacked us for many times, but they couldn’t damage our force. They couldn’t break the lines and advance. We have been in really serious situations, with very limited weapons, but we have fought for days in the trenches. If we had said that we were hungry or tired, in the middle of battle, our force and will, would have shattered, yet we have prevailed. It doesn’t have to do with the capacity but with your will. They attacked us with tanks and cannons. They tried to eliminate us with their heavy weapons and technology. But, they couldn’t penetrate our resistance.”

SOUNDBITE [French] Mohamed Arif Ali, Doctor of Kobani: “Right now we have two ambulances here in Kobani. But, we need two more ambulances because there are three open battle fronts in Kobani between the defenders and Daesh. We need at least one ambulance for each front, plus one more ambulance to be able to take the (seriously) injured people to the border, to Turkey.”

Narration: Daesh destroyed all the hospitals in Kobane. The resistance therefore had no option but to install a medical centre in the basement of a school to protect it from destruction by bombs.

TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Mohamed Bali, Doctor in Kobani: “I am the assistant of the surgery room. Here, seven doctors and seven nurses work. We have one surgery department, which takes care of the injured fighters, and another to attend the injured civilians. Every day we receive about seven or eight injured people. We have a little medication to treat diseases and to attend the injured people. This is the place where we put the blood that the fighters give us when they come to be checked. In this way we have blood supplies for the injured.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Renas, Kurd Resistance Fighter: “They unleashed projectiles upon us as we fought to reclaim Mishtenur Hill. There was a fire and I was burned. These injuries don’t matter. I didn’t come here to be careful. Whatever happens, we came with our Kalashnikovs to protect Kobani. Although I got injured, I was focused in the victory of my comrades, on regaining Mishtenur. We’ve seen how they succeeded and so we are very happy. These injuries in time will be cured. Though I was injured my parents were still happy because I was part of the liberation of Mishtenur.”

Narration: Turkey prohibited the vehicles that belonged to the Syrian Kurds which had escaped from Daesh from crossing the border therefore they had to stay on this side of the border and sleep in their vehicles and by sporadic attacks of Takfiris for them it was a heroeen experience.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Mustafa, Resident of Kobani: “We were in limbo here for five months surviving the rigors of winter. We couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t escape. Daesh snipers shot at us. We were just here, sitting on the soil of Kobani. Beside the prohibited zone of the Turkish military, The Turkish soldiers fired more than twenty or thirty tears gas bombs at us.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Resident of Kobani: “Yes, the Turkish threw gas bombs at us; a lot of defenders were overcome; they couldn’t breathe. The Turkish soldiers wanted us to go to the other side. But we didn’t have anywhere to go. Daesh is in Kobani and the Turkish soldiers are here in the border with their tear gas.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Ahmed, Resident of Kobani: “We didn’t lack much, but of course, there was shortage of fuel during the winter. The fighters supplied us with fuel. We don’t ask for anything else, we just asked our comrades and God to help us return our city and villages soon. That God may give us the necessary power to save us from the oppression of these dogs Daesh dogs.”

TIME CODE: 35:00_40:15

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Adnan Hasan, Refugee Teacher: “Our comrade Anter started a project with the General Education Committee. We decided to hold an exhibition of the drawings done by children of Kobani. This exhibition “The colors of children of Kobani ” reflects the psychological condition of displaced kids. The changes in the psychological state of Kobani that these drawing show are evident. In this picture, we see how a member of Daesh has beheaded a man and has hanged his head. This scene hasn’t happened in Kobani but just outside of it. The effect of this propaganda of Daesh, decapitating people and hanging their heads, has been so strong on children and old people that it has caused a massive migration. Such scenes stay imprinted in the child’s mind that he or she later draws it. The scenes of beheading are published in internet and many other places. This scene clearly shows Daesh surrounding a man and executing him. Another interesting picture is this one, in which a child is drawn with the soil of Kobani in his hands. Here are scenes about the people, especially this one. People are crossing the Turkish Syrian border. The children still remember the moment they crossed the border, how they took cattle with them. Some of them are holding a child’s hands with their belongings on their shoulders. Here you can distinguish the Turkish tanks, the barbed wire of the border and the way they go through it. What is common in all the drawings is that they show the psychological damage as a result of displacement. And these common elements in all the pictures stay in the children’s minds until they manifest on a piece of paper.”

Narration: The siege of Kobani caused the mass movement of 180,000 refugees, which Turkey received in refugee camps. Hundreds of Kurdish volunteers assisted and humanitarian organizations in coordination with national and local authorities supplied tents, electric power, food services and primary care. Within these camps, Kurdish teachers began cultural activities and classes in Kurdish. Here is where we met Silava Baz, a ten year old girl that drew a picture of a horrendous beheading.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Silava Baz, Refugee Student of Kobani: “I have seen how Daesh beheaded our young people. They came to Kobani so I escaped from there. Once, I had a vivid nightmare that Daesh attacked us; another time I saw two members of Daesh lying dead on a tractor. My father told me to go and look at them. Finally I went with my neighbor. We were so afraid that we fell down. When I woke up my parents said: “Honey don’t be afraid, it was just a bad dream”.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Reporter: “What do you like to be when you grow up?”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Silava Baz, Refugee Student of Kobani: “A doctor.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Reporter: “A doctor? why?”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Silava Baz, Refugee Student of Kobani: “Because I like to take care of people.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Reporter: “And you?”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Silava Baz, Refugee Student of Kobani: “Me, a fighter.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Reporter: “Why?”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Silava Baz, Refugee Student of Kobani: “Because I like my comrades.”

Narration: Now that Kobani has been liberated and the threat of Daesh is far from here, in the ruins of Kobani the people dream of rebuilding their homes and starting over. 

   

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