Inspiring Thursday: Hevrin Khalaf

“The role of women in solving the Syrian crisis is great, and women are not only half of society, but constitute the whole society (…)” Hevrin Khalaf 

Hevrin Khalaf, 35 years oldwas one of the nine civilians killed on Saturday 12th October 2019 by the Turkish-backed militias in Syria 

She was born in Derik/Al-Malikiyah, Turkey, in 1984. Hevrin studied agricultural engineering at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at Aleppo University in Syria where she graduated in 2009. She started her career as an activist with the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, intensifing her political activism and working in various civil society organizations. In 2014 Hevrin became Vice-President of the Energy Commission in the Gezira Region and assumed the presidency of the Energy Authority in 2016. In 2017 the Kurdish rebels overcame the power of ISIS in the terrritory of Raqqa, in the north-east of Syria; on 27th March 2018 Hevrin Khalaf founded the Future Syria Party in the self-governing Kurdish area of Rojava, with the aim of fighting for a united democratic Syria. She was elected as the general secretary of the party.   

 She was supportive of the reuniting of Syria. Her core idea was to create a new united Syria, trying to avoid internal divisions in order to face the regime and create a new peaceful environment in a country that needs to be rebuilt after almost 9 years of conflict. She was presumably killed because of her important role as a politician and diplomat, as explained with the words of the political analyst Mutlu Civiroglu. 

Hevrin Khalaf was a strong supporter of women’s rights in Syria, and especially in the north-east of Syria where the Kurdish live. A strong concept of patriarchy is still present in those areas, and practices such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, and honor killings are the norm. Moreover, the unstable situation of the most recent years has not helped the construction of a more equal society. Women were being raped and mutilated during the civil war. Religiously the Kurdish have different faiths, the majority of them following Sunni Islam. The occupation of the area by the ISIS extremists led to women being forced to wear the veil in the Syrian/Kurdish areas. Nevertheless, after the liberation of the territory of Rojava, the women have fought for the gender parity against the patriarchy sustained by religionism. The women created the YJP Yekîneyên Parastina Jin, the women kurdish army, that was fundamental for the Rojava liberation from ISIS. Now the female population fear a backlash because of the Turkey invasion which will surely have psycological and physical consequences on them.  

Recently Hevrin organised a Tribal Women’s Forum, and the Party for the Future of Syria affirmed among its principles the secularity of the State, a multi-identity Syria, the renunciation of violence as a form of conflict, equality between men and women and respect for UN resolutions, in particular Resolution 2254. In her last speech on 5th October 2019 she had a strong standpoint against he turkish behavior in the north-east of Syria, seen as an obstacle to the creation of a peaceful united Syria.  

The death of the woman activist and leader has been commented on by the President of the European Parliament, Davide Sassoli. He has described her as “the face of dialogue and the emancipation of women in Syria” referring to her murder as something the International Community should face responsibility for.

Written by Martina Fontana, WAVE Intern 


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