RAKKA- Rakka that have been liberated from the darkness of ISIS is getting ready for October 19 celebrations. I am in Rakka again after one year of observing the operations. Rakka that looked like a ghost town now looks much colourful in the light. There is a crowd of people as far as the eye can see and their hopeful steps are echoing in the streets.
Rakka was the first city to fall in to the hands of Salafi groups gather under the same roof of Free Syrian Army (ÖSO) in Syrian civil war. The most effective of those groups were Heyet Tahrir el Şam (HTŞ) which controlled the city until the end of 2013.Then Rakka has been the center of darkness until it was liberated by Women Defence Units (YPJ) in the hands of ISIS.
CAPITOL CITY OF FEAR!
ISIS that had both international and domestic help to hold the ground ,first obtained dominance in Iraq. After taking controll of Rakka, ISIS expanded their influence in Syria. Occupying North and East Syria cities, ISIS became a nightmare not only for Syria but for all the world.
A PERIOD PLUNGED INTO DARKNESS
ISIS who declared caliphaty, plunged more and more into the dark. They tried to force people into migration or massacre them if they did not obey. The streets that carried all kinds of people then became the adress of death.To bring the society on their knees, they staged demonstations of mass killings, executions,stonings to death..They forced people to watch.
The schools were shut down and in their place, jihadist schools were founded. All women including little girls had to wear hijabs. They set markets of slaves where they sold women. They held some of the women in dungeons underground, those were the Yezidi women they captured in Şengal. Some of them were rescued during the operations, but still noone knows the whereabouts of thousands of those women.
AFTER A YEAR
ISIS who was defeated for the first time in Kobané, start losing positions one step after another agains Democratic Syrian Forces (QSD) Rakka city center was taken back from ISIS with an operation started at June 6, 2017 to October 19.
I BACK IN RAKKA AFTER THE OPERATION
I pursued the operation and photographed ISIS with on most true self. After a year I hit the road for Rakka again.Rakka, that looked like a ghost town back then is in its most self filled with people. You can actually hear the sound of hope and whatever part of the city you go, you can hear it.
MAIN STREETS AND ALLIES CAME TO LIFE
The streets that we could not walk through with the fear of stepping on a mine during the war, now filled with women and children. The sound of the fruit sellers in the market mix with the women and children wearing colourful clothes. The one's who is doing the most of the work in the city they dont have to wear black, is women. Not only in construction do they take charge, but also in the administartion of the city, the administration of the city is women predominated. While the women wounded by ISIS comes together and organising, there are psychological support centers that ensures solidarity.
TO AN ENLIGTHTENED RAKKA
ISIS that ıs an enemy of science, culture, arts, literature and cinema covered everything like concrete when they were here. While they destroyed most of the art in the city, the intelligentsia in the city kept and hid some artifects which QSD found when they came to liberate the city. Now there are libraries and book cafe's in the city where those books and pictures and photos are on the shelves.
HUGO, CHAPLIN AND EINSTEIN AFTER ISIS
The biggest change in the city is the Rakka People's Municipality. That building once served as a dungeon and a place for torture is now a municipality that serves the people. The top floor of the building is most exciting part od the municipality where municipality workers are being trained. Pictures of Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Victor Hugo and more are hanged in the walls of the hall that was rushed to be ready before the anniversary. There are aphorisms on the walls that are told by the intelligentsia and one attracts attention ,said by Albert Eınsteın and written in Arabic : " Dont stand still, always question things."