Kurdish costumes and dances were featured at the event. Photo: Ava Homa
TORONTO, Canada – The Kurdish community in Toronto celebrated International Women’s Day on Sunday with Kurdish costumes, songs and folk dancing, with the occasion also used to honor three Kurdish activists assassinated in France more than a year ago.
Participants at the event, at the city’s Montecassino Hotel, heard a women’s day message by Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party who has been jailed in Turkey since 1999.
In his message, Ocalan said that every day should be women’s day. “It must be one of life’s indispensable conditions that every day is a day for women and for freedom,” he said. "A society cannot be free when women are not free. A revolution is not a revolution if it cannot liberate women,” Ocalan said. “I think of the brave women who have lost their lives in the struggle for freedom.”
Guests signed a petition calling on the French government to fully investigate the killings of the three Kurdish women who were shot dead in Paris in January 2013. Sakine Cansiz, a founding member of the PKK, was found dead together with two Kurdish political activists, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez. After more than a year, there remains a swirl of mystery around the murders.
Sunday’s event showcased Kurdish women’s costumes from different regions of Kurdistan, together with clothes and choreography done by Fethi Karakecili, a PhD Candidate in dance at York University who specializes in Kurdish folk dancing.
Krakecili is also founder of the Dilan Dance Company and was one of the main performers at the women’s day event. Iana Komarnytska, a professional belly dancer, teacher and choreographer, performed a Roma dance with Karakecili, and later did a solo Gilaki number.
A representative of the Tamil Women’s Association spoke at the event, bringing a message of solidarity with Kurdish women and pointing out that the Tamils of South Asia have also been massacred and displaced.Rozerin Kahraman, a well-known Sweden-based Kurdish singer, was among the featured performers. Dressed in traditional Kurdish costume, she played her instrument and sang romantic and patriotic songs, at an event that went into the wee hours past midnight.