Kurds fear a return to the past

With the beginning of the peace process started by  the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, Kurds are moving back to the villages from where they were  forcefully expelled and had their lands confiscated, says a report from D?HA. In the village of Çelê Biyadir in Çolemêrg (Hakkari), harvest season is about to begin, and for local residents it is accompanied the joy of being back in  their villages after spending years apart. Their only fear is that the process will backslide.

Keeping Watch on the Crops

Rice is the primary means of livelihood for the villages. A lot of labor goes into rice field farming, from the planting of the crop in April to its harvest in October, until it is brought to the table. The villagers are undertaking the onerous labor of paddy farming on the one hand, and watching guards over the crops that might be destroyed by herds of wild pigs on the other.

Most Labour Is Done By The Women

In the month of October, the harvested rice is threshed by cattle or carts. Later, in a practice called ‘sorkirin’, the harvest is brought to a windy area to get rid of the thick stalks. Due to financial reasons, most of the youth are working different jobs in the cities. While men are away, it is generally the women who are responsible for the harvest.

Means of Existence

One of the villagers, Remziye Kaynak, explained how the rice is harvested: “We have been forced to live away from our villages for years. My husband supported us by working as a driver. But we barely could make ends meet. Later we arrived at our village. Here we have fertile lands, a lot of fruit trees. In April we are preparing the rice paddies. In the summer we are guarding the crops from wild animals. With the month of October we start harvesting. Later on we tear off the stalks with the help of a fan. After we let them dry in the sun, we process the rice in a windmill in Çukurca (…). We had to use the windmills after cohnî (or dibek – a tool carved in stone that grinds the crops). We also plant corn and wheat around here. That’s how we make our living.”

Haluk Kaynak, a local from Kurdistan stated that most of the windmills were destroyed by the state before the villages were evacuated: “We learned this profession from our ancestors, and kept the practice going until the 90’s. However after we were forced out of our lands, the millers passed away. Most of the windmills were broken over time. In the district of Çukurca (we) cultivate wheat and corn, as well as rice.”

The Process Öcalan Started

Kaynak added: “With the mood of optimism, the villagers are returning back to their villages, some are staying only in the harvest time to work their lands. Our yield is increasing, because we are able to stay in the villages and tend to our land.”The villagers are saving some of the yield for themselves, and selling the rest as rice or flour. Their only fear is that things will go back to the way they were before.

Translation by The Rojava Report

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