Black Stadium in Raqqa being rebuilt

Black Stadıum in Raqqa, which was used as a prison and torture center by ISIS, has been being rebuilt. “I raise a new generation in this stadium,” said Necwa Ebûzer, Co-chair of the Sports Union of Raqqa.


Raqqa- The war in North and East Syria has been continuing for 12 years. While time goes too fast, the people move on in the shadow of war. Like everything else, places also change. People always face oppression in this region, which has been attacked hundreds of times. The Municipal Stadium in Raqqa, also known as the Black Stadium, is one of the places where oppression is engraved on its walls.

The city of Raqqa was occupied by ISIS in 2014 and liberated on October 17, 2017 by the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) and the People's Defense Units (YPG). Women, who lived under the patriarchal mindset of the Baathist regime before ISIS occupied Raqqa and were subjected to the most inhumane practices of this patriarchal system after the occupation of ISIS, have rebuilt their lives based on the democratic system since the liberation of the city. You can still see the traces of ISIS on the streets of Raqqa. But you can also see a new life built by women among the destroyed buildings. The unforgettable sufferings in Raqqa pave the way for the construction of a new life against the patriarchal system.

She has a new life

Necwa Ebûzer, is one of the women who witnessed the patriarchal mindset of the Baathist regime before ISIS occupied Raqqa. She sees the main aim of the Turkish state and makes great efforts to build a new life based on democracy and respecting women’s freedom. Now, she is the Co-chair of the Sports Union of Raqqa. She has different stories and experiences in the Black Stadium, which was used a prison and torture center by ISIS.

She formed a small team

Originally from Raqqa, Necwa Ebûzer first began to teach karate in 1991 at the Municipal Stadium in Raqqa. She taught karate to her sisters, aunts and cousins and then formed a small karate team consisting of only women. Having a black belt, Necwa Ebûzer and her team entered many karate competitions in Damascus, Homs and many cities of Syria.

She had to quit karate

The roles designed by the patriarchal mindset prevented her doing karate because her society did not accept a woman doing karate. “I was sad and angry; I wanted to become an expert in karate. I wanted to participate in local and international competitions. I had to quit karate due to my father. Although I tried to do karate again in 1999, I faced the same barriers. I had to quit karate in 2000.”

‘Women face restrictions everywhere’

Necwa Ebûzer married in 2002. “Then, I lived in a village near Ayn Issa. I really wanted to do karate, sports; however, our society does not allow women to do sports. Women face restrictions everywhere due to the roles designed for women by the patriarchal mindset. But these restrictions never ended my love for sports and karate.”

 She has about 200 students now

Four years ago, the Turkish state carried out attacks on Ayn Issa and its villages. “I stayed in the village for a while and then decided to return to my homeland, Raqqa. After moving to Raqqa, I decided to do karate again. I started living with my family because I was in a bad financial situation. I had black belt and could teach karate. When I first went to the stadium, I was shocked; the city and stadium were in ruin. The stadium was used as a prison by ISIS before Raqqa was liberated. I felt very bad, thinking of my experiences in the stadium before the city was occupied by ISIS. So, I decided to rebuild the stadium. Now, I am the Co-chair of the Sports Union, a sports teacher having about 200 students.”

Since being the Co-chair of the Sports Union, Necwa Ebûzer has made great efforts for female athletes. In the stadium, women can learn taekwondo, karate, football, cycling etc. The union has women’s teams in all sports fields. Speaking about the difference between today and the past, she said, “There are many differences. In the 90s, women could not do sports due to social pressure. When ISIS occupied the city, women were not allowed to do anything. Since the city was liberated by the SDF, the city has changed. Now, women can do sports.”

Renovation of the stadium continues

The Black Stadium is very important for Necwa Ebûzer. “My training rooms were in the basement of the stadium. However, ISIS used these rooms as cells and torture chambers. This stadium is very important for me because I improved myself in this stadium and have many memories. The stadium has been under renovation for 4-5 years. Its renovation has been completed because it was badly damaged.”

‘I raise a new generation’

When Necwa Ebûzer first entered the stadium, she was only 11. “Now, I raise a new generation in this stadium. I teach sports to a new generation. In my free time, I do karate.” Necwa Ebûzer also called on all women not to “give up and resist the patriarchal mindset trying to prevent you from realizing your dreams. Yes, we face many barriers but we should struggle, work hard, learn and teach.”