#FlytheFlag: Zehra Doğan’s symbol of resistance

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A white cloth, transparent and mysterious…

The white scarf is the symbol of resistance against pain. The embroideries on it have unique mysteries. It’s the symbol of women’s resistance against the war that’s been waged on Kurdish lands for thousands of years. It’s the symbol of the women who don’t give in to the war and call for peace in the middle of war. It’s the symbol of the mothers who meet in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square every week asking about how their child disappeared and the mothers who chant “Don’t let mothers cry, let there be peace” on the streets of Kurdistan. The white scarf is not a religious symbol but a cultural one for the women who resist.

The peacock feather is an attribute to the Ezidi women who were enslaved in Sinjar mountains by ISIS after massacres in 2014. According to the Ezidi belief peacock is a holy bird, a savior. It doesn’t obey and always leads to the light, to the sun. It dances around the sun, celebrating its existence. This is why it’s seen as evil in some religions. But the bird that’s been cursed by the Abrahamic religions is the holy bird of Ezidis. It has the freedom on its wings. The cyclic equality of the nature, the indomitability and the reality of finding one’s self is hidden in its wings. According to Ezidis, the world was a small pearl in the beginning and it developed fully after waiting in the wings of a bird. I think what we call the world is the human itself, a small child in the wings of a bird.

I wanted to design my flag in the form of the resistant women’s white scarf, for enslaved women to fly to the freedom in the wings of the peacock.

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Fly The Flag

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, artist Ai Weiwei has created a flag to celebrate universal human rights.

Arts organisations and human rights charities invite you to Fly The Flag for human rights on 24 – 30 June 2019. From the Highlands of Scotland to the coast of Cornwall via cities, towns and villages across the UK, in galleries and theatres, shopping centres and offices, schools and libraries, both physically and online, people will come together to celebrate that human rights are for everyone, every day.

Discover our full programme of events and activities.