Raqqa’s first co-chair Leyla: Our city can become free only with women

Gulan Botan

RAQQA –“We can love our country as much as we love each other,” said Leyla Mistefa, who wants to reorganize the liberated Raqqa city with peace, love and women.

Leyla Mistefa is the first co-chair of civil council founded in the liberated Raqqa. Leyla has made Raqqa beautiful step by step with her political identity, as well as with her works. Sometimes, we see Leyla is taking care of the rescued civilians and sometimes we see she is advocating the paradigm she fights for during the public meetings. Leyla graduated from Construction Department of Fırat (Euphrates) University in Raqqa, she has rebuilt the city with love and hope not with cement and concrete. Apart from the discussions, “Will the YPG and the Kurds stay in Raqqa after the city is completely liberated?” the efforts of Leyla and organizing people of Raqqa prove that there is a democratic and free life in the city.

Leyla spoke to Gazete Şûjin on her works, life and dreams. Leyla was born in Gire Sipî city and she moved to Raqqa with her family. Leyla, who had to immigrate again when the war broke out, doesn’t see the war as a fate and her greatest struggle is to improve herself and to be hope for Raqqa women.

Leyla told her story started in Girê Spî as follows: “I moved to Raqqa with my family after completing my first grade education in Qufile village. I stayed there for years. After the chaos broke out in Syria, Raqqa was seen as the center of Daesh, my people faced many difficulties. The human brains could not tolerate the torture of Daesh gangs, particularly on women. As a woman, I couldn’t stand seeing the captivity of women. I couldn’t tolerate anymore and I left there in 2014. First I went to Cizre Canton and then I went to Girê Spî after the liberation of the city.”

Her greatest dream is women-oriented paradigm!

Leyla’s greatest dream is to improve the people of Raqqa around the women-oriented paradigm. Leyla, who doesn’t abandon her dream during the war, first organized herself while living in Cizre Canton to realize her dream. Leyla took part in the preparatory committee when the operation to liberate Raqqa was launched in 2016. “During this period, we had debates with those who had to leave Raqqa. We immediately started to organize when we understood there was such kind of basis.”

‘Fraternity is the basis of our works’

Leyla talked about the preparations of Civil Council of Raqqa, which is one of the first concrete steps of the new life in Raqqa following the liberation of the city and she said, “Daesh gangs entered the city and caused terrible destruction on people’s bodies and brains. After the liberation, the people thought ‘What will be now?’ I said a democratic life would be gradually built by women. Fraternity and common life are the basis of our works. Our struggle is to tell our people this and to organize on this basis.”

‘My people’s brains were captured’

Leyla also talked about the destruction on the society by Daesh and she said, “Some people had to kill their relatives. They were forced to kill their mothers, fathers, siblings, because their brains were washed by Daesh gangs. They even couldn’t think what they were doing. Our people faced this and they suffered. Now the whole world keeps watching the future of Raqqa. I want to walk with my people. My people’s brains were captured; I want to end this captivity. The only way to heal them is love and organization.”

‘We can love our country as much as we love each other’

Leyla addressed the Raqqa women and said, “Let’s take part in the works to liberate and organize Raqqa free. Because our city can be liberated only with women. I have hopeful for this. That’s why I say that all women should organize and govern themselves on their own will. The women should support their country. I say to all women that we must first know ourselves. The hope that the women have waited for years now is in the hand of women. I know that we can love our country as much as we love each other.”