An eloquent painting for Nurefşan, who lost her life in the Maritza River, from Pakistan-born Zeynep

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An eloquent painting for Nurefşan, who lost her life in the Maritza River, from Pakistan-born Zeynep

Zeynep Nazlı Yücel, who immigrated to Bosnia and Herzegovina from Pakistan with her family at 5, painted Nurefşan, who died at 9 while crossing the Maritza River, and her experiences for the art competition organized by the AST. Zeynep’s work was put to the finals vote on the AST’s Instagram page.

The painting by 16-year-old Zeynep Nazlı Yücel, born in Lahore, Pakistan, made it to the finals in the art competition held in memory of Nurefşan Teke, who lost her life on the path of migration. The painting, which qualified in the jury rounds, depicts the scene when Nurefşan, the 9-year-old daughter of the Teke family who attempted to cross the Maritza River on the Turkish-Greek border on March 4, 2021, fell into the river from a capsized boat.

Headquartered in the United States of America, the international human rights organization Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST) dedicated its third international art competition themed this year on the human rights violations in Turkey to Nurefşan Teke. Nurefşan lost her life by drowning in the Maritza River with her mother Neslihan Teke while fleeing the persecution of the Erdoğan regime in Turkey.

Born in Lahore and living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zeynep Nazlı, daughter of former PakTurk teacher Doğan Yücel, participated in the AST competition with an expressive painting. Zeynep Nazlı, who had immigrated to Bosnia and Herzegovina at 5, said she wished to honour the memory of Nurefşan Teke, who lost her life on the path of migration. Zeynep Nazlı participated in the competition to best express the unwarranted suffering and agony Nurefşan and her family had gone through.

Having depicted the moment Nurefşan Teke fell from a capsized boat into the Maritza River, Zeynep said Nurefşan opened her eyes to an entirely different life at 9 while clutching her little teddy bear. Zeynep interpreted this heartrending sight on paper with an hourglass metaphor representing time: “Leaving the pitch-dark night, the freezing water, the cruelty of people and the rippling waters behind, Nurefşan steps into a bright and serene clime bathing in emerald greenery, a clime as spacious as the meaning of her name. Time and space transform at very moment. Pale and dark colours yield to bright and vibrant ones. As we in the unshed part of the hourglass remember her with agony and sorrow, Nurefşan becomes a winged dove in that illuminated realm.

Zeynep Nazlı Yücel had participated in the art competition organized by the PakTurkFile for youth and children. She got the third prize both in the story category with her essay ‘My Glass Bracelets’ and in the painting category with her painting titled ‘Badshahi Masjid‘.

Zeynep’s eye-candy and eloquent painting, which made to the finals in this year’s competition, has been presented to public voting on the AST’s Instagram account. AST will determine the highest-ranking works through these votes. Each like (heart emoji) means a vote for the painting. You can click on the link below to vote for Zeynep’s and other finalists’ artworks.

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