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Jin, Jiyan, Azadi: How a Kurdish slogan represents millions of Iranian women

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaOct 28, 2022 | 17:40

Jin, Jiyan, Azadi: How a Kurdish slogan represents millions of Iranian women

It's been almost 50 days since Iranian women and even men started protesting against the country’s dress code for women after Mahsa Amini's death. As of now, the death toll related to the Iran protests has reached 230, and over 12,500 have been detained. The Iranian regime has been under pressure due to the strict laws they make for women's bodies and expects them to abide by them. 

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman was found dead after being arrested by the country's notorious 'morality police', and soon became the face of the protest. Her death caused a rage which then turned to protests all over Iran against the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regime and again brought to light the famous Kurdish slogan: 'Jin, Jiyan, Azadi'. 

Where did Jin, Jiyan, Azadi come from? Jin, Jiyan, Azadi means Woman, Life, Freedom. For the current Iranian protests, the chant started from Amini's burial ground. Soon, the chant became a symbol for all the women who were supporting Iranian. Its Farsi version "Zan, Zendegi, Azadi" " was also heard in the capital city of  Tehran. 

The slogan that saw history:

  • The Kurdish freedom movement of the late 20th century is where the phrase first started.
  • Members of the Kurdish women's movement, a branch of the Kurdish independence movement that was established on grassroots action in response to persecution by the governments of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, were the first to use the term. 

It was popularised further by famous Kurdish figures such as Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of PKK ( Kurdistan Workers' Party), in his anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal writings. It was also used by Kurds in the fight against ISIS.

Photo: Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of PKK/Wiki commons

The phrase has been used since its inception by both Kurdish organisations and individuals outside of the Kurdish movement. 

Soon, the slogan became an emblem of fighters fighting against repressing the common mass apart from the Iranian Protest. For instance, it was used on November 25, 2015, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in a gathering of several European countries. It was also used in 2018, during Cannes Film Festival, the cast of Girls of the Sun chanted "Jin, Jiyan, Azadî"

Photo: Artwork of Woman, Life, Freedom slogan in Persian.

Here is a quick timeline, if you have missed what's happening in Iran:

 

What came next? Solidarity poured from around the world for the women of Iran. Famous fashion brands like Balenciaga, and Gucci added these slogans to their Instagram feed. Uniting these protests around the world was this one Kurdish slogan: Jin, Jiyan, Azadi (Women, Life, Freedom).

Bottom Line: What seems more like a hashtag to most, Jin Jiyan Azadi is more than that. It represents women, their autonomy in their lives and their need for freedom.

Last updated: October 28, 2022 | 17:40
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