Belgian journalist awarded French prize: work on anti-IS fighter
Friday, 25 November 2016
Yesterday evening, the famous reporter, author and Belgian producer, Pascale Bourgaux, received in Paris the literary Grand Témoin 2016 prize awarded by the Foundation for the company La France Mutualiste. This was for her work “Me, Viyan, an Anti-Daech fighter” (‘Daech’ being the Arab acronym for the terrorist group Islamic State, editor’s note), published by Éditions Fayard. Since 2003, the purpose of the Grand Témoin awards has been to reward works evidencing conflicts of the 20th and 21st century.
“This provides an exceptional, original and unusual account, from the female perspective, to the point that the reader is captivated. We are transported in the account of this introductory journey,” the Foundation of the French national mutual for savings and retirement, La France Mutualiste explains.
“Me, Viyan, an Anti-Daech fighter”, written with the assistance of Saïd Mahmoud, tells the story of a female Kurdish soldier, aged 25, who Pascale Bourgaux met during two trips to Syria.
The young woman learns to use weapons at 18 and joins the PKK (Kurdistan workers party) to fight against Islamic State (IS).
She becomes a formidable sniper and attains the level of commander. Viyan’s story has also become a documentary.
“I am very pleased to receive this prize as it is a means of speaking about courageous women fighting against Daech,” Pascale Bourgaux reacted, when interviewed by Belga. “It is also somewhat pleasing to see my effort rewarded, work which proved to be extensive over several months and with a high degree of risk. It was not easy to enter Syria secretly. It was also necessary to convince the guerilla group to talk, as well as Viyan to tell me her life story.”
Writing this first book was no easy task. “I had to absolutely put myself in the shoes of this young illiterate Muslim Kurd who becomes a PKK sniper. I had to write in the first person which was very difficult,” stated the award winner.