Turkish attacks destroying the future of a generation of young women

With Bêrîvan Mihemed, we begin to tell a series of stories of young women murdered by the Turkish army in North and East Syria. Young women who took their share of responsibility in a war-torn region and died at their places of work. They leave families in pain, but also a society that remains determined to leave the time of war behind and to build peaceful and democratic coexistence together with all the ethnic groups of the region.

Part 2 is followed by a story about the life of Aya Ali Al-Muhammad and the effort of all of us must be to ensure that there will be no Part 3 and that these attacks will come to an end.

Bêrîvan Mihemed – a shattered “love for life”

Bêrîvan Mihemed is one of the victims of the Turkish attacks in North and East Syria during the Christmas period in 2023. She was an employee of the Sîmav printing house, which was deliberately destroyed in a Turkish air strike on 25 December.

Bêrîvan was a young woman of around thirty, who impressed her family and peers with her love for life. In a region and society marked by war and destruction, and under the influence of the achievements of a women’s revolution, she had decided to go her own way.

She grew up with her family in the town of Qamishlo, the only daughter of her parents and the only sister of her three brothers. Her birth was a great joy for the whole family, and Bêrîvan grew up surrounded by affection. She studied electricity, but then stayed with her family for several years without a job. She did not want to marry. She helped her mother with the housework. She loved life and brought warmth and joy to the house, and she was loyal and loving to her parents. When she saw that her father was worried or sad, she was with him and asked him how he was. She tried to ease his situation and hugged him until he forgot his worries.

She was an intelligent, kind and helpful young woman. She respected young and old and was loved and respected by everyone, neighbours, relatives and colleagues.

The Sîmav printing house was founded in 2013 with 14 employees at the beginning and expanded in 2017. It was a close friend of the family who offered Berîvan a job in the printing house. She was happy to be there for her family, but she also felt unfulfilled and wanted to develop herself, so she finally accepted the offer.

The printing house printed magazines, books, brochures and newspapers with a weekly circulation of 6,000 pieces. Bêrîvan had worked there for 6 years. She started working in the post-press section and later became responsible for financial accounting. On the morning of 25 December, Bêrîvan went to work at 8:00 like the other 26 employees. At around 10.30am, Turkey began a series of air strikes and drone attacks on civilian targets in the city of Qamishlo, including several workplaces such as garment, cement and cotton factories. One of the targets was the Sîmav printing house.

Targeting civilian homes and workplaces is a violation of international law. Since 2018, in addition to the illegal occupation of the border areas around the towns of Efrîn, Sêrekaniyê and Girêspî, Turkey has continued to carry out waves of attacks against civilian infrastructure in the region of North and East Syria with impunity. It is deliberately attacking the autonomous administration and the structures that provide services to the people. Many people have fled the consequences of the civil war in Syria and the attacks of the Islamic State. Many have stayed to build and defend the autonomous administration in the hope of finally being able to lead a self-determined life – based on their own language and culture and with a desire for freedom – including women in particular. Turkey is punishing them for this.

Just as many families have lost their children, Bêrîvan’s family is now left without their daughter: “What does Erdogan want from us? What does he want with our children? Not a day passes without sadness and blood. Why is he taking our lives? What have we done that he kills us every moment? When will our suffering and pain end?

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