Ferhat Yaşar / Duvar

A group of Diyarbakır-based Kurdish journalists released the first edition of a Kurdish-language weekly called Xwebûn. The weekly will publish in the Kurmancî and Kirmançkî dialects of Kurdish.

“Xwebûn does not belong to individuals, it belongs to the Kurdish people,” said its publisher Kadri Esen.

The word “Xwebûn” refers to “identity”, “individuality” and “self”. Esen maintained the name of the publication is a message to Kurds and to the Kurdish language.

He added that the politics of rebellion still applied to the Kurdish language.

“They used to say ‘Kurds don’t exist and neither does their language’. Now they say ‘Kurds exist, their language doesn’t,'” said Esen. “As for Kurds, in order for them to be themselves, they need to own their language, speak it, read it. They need to live it.”

Xwebûn in print despite challenges

In the face of the repression targeting Kurdish publications, many institutions that undertook the challenge faced the same fate, that of being shut down. Esen contended this has resulted in the near-disappearance of Kurdish-language publications.

“We wanted to ‘exist’ in this field. That’s why we published Xwebûn, we wanted to touch the reader with it,” Esen said.

Esen further added they will not only be writing about Kurdish heritage, but will also evaluate current events and politics through a Kurdish lens.

Xwebûn as a ‘school’ of the Kurdish language

Esen noted that one the paper’s missions is to serve as a school for Kurdish, by encouraging the use of the language.

Journalist and author Yıldız Çakar said that even though she started his journalism career in Turkish, she felt a unique thrill in writing and reporting in his native Kurdish tongue.

“Newspapers in Kurdish are not only important for the distribution of news, but also for the development, expansion and elevation of the language,” Çakar said. “Especially for those of us who’ve been making art, literature and journalism in a language that’s been banned for years.”

Xwebûn as a unifying force

Xwebûn is a unifying platform where Kurds, divided both geographically and politically, can freely express themselves, Çakar says.

“To create a spirit of unity and to prevent another period of cultural and artistic division, we will hear the voice of a poet from the East, witness the path of a novelist in the south and enjoy the mystic air of a storyteller from Rojava,” Çakar said.

Çakar noted the paper had many columnists hailing from Iran, Syria, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Lebanon and several European countries. According to her, this could help turn the paper into a “unifying spirit.”