by Falah Hasan

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Kurdish Nation was divided between France and the United Kingdom. Under the Sykes – Picot Agreement in 1916, Kurdistan was to be split between four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Today, the total number of Kurds in the four countries exceed 40 Million people, each of these countries denying Kurds their rights as nation and our history.

Thousands of horrible personal experiences

As I am an Iraqi Kurdistan Region citizen, a region which was founded in 1991, after 70 years of struggle and fighting, I will focus only on this region, which has the ambition to ensure the rule of law for all of country’s constituents. Kurdistan Region was constituted after a long series of massacres, which include the mass burying of 182 thousand Kurds in the Garmiyan District and eight thousand Barzanies people, the destruction of 4500 villages and the chemical attack in Halabja, which led to the killing of 5000 people. Kurdish history is full of sadness: I remember one of the early mornings in my life when I was seven years old; I witnessed the Iraqi army and security forces breaching into my house. They broke the main door and entered in the main hall without any permission. The group, which was composed of more than a dozen soldiers, spoke to my mother about my father’s whereabouts because he was a Peshmerga (Kurdish Freedom Fighter). They were looking for him in each room of the house while my brothers were at school at that moment so I felt alone and frightened with my mother. She answered them that he had been away for six years, a fact the Iraqi Army was aware of. He had left when I was one year old to became a Peshmerga, and he was not allowed to come back to Iraq due to his involvement in the revolt. I was crying because of the loudness of the soldiers’ voice and suddenly, I heard the screams and cries of my mother as her head was broken and covered of blood. I still do not remember how they broke her head, all I could remember is the loud sound which came from my mother’s side as four or five of them were hitting her with their rifles’ butts and kicking her. I was crying loudly, trying to defend and protect her and they did not stop hitting her until the neighbours arrived and took my mother away from them. This picture still remains in my mind as I am 31 years old today. I remember loads of similar stories about the Iraqi police, security forces and the military, and I do not want to share bad memories anymore.

The Future of Kurdistan

From 1991 to 2002, we were a free region, freed from Iraqi forces and attacks. We created the Kurdistan Parliament in 1992 and organised our first general election and as we tried to build our region step by step and make of it an example of freedom and democracy. After the ousting of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, a new era began as we cooperated to form a new Iraqi government which would be under the rule of law. However, as soon as the Iraqi government gained new powers, it resumed using the old regime’s manner with our people. This includes slashing the budget of the Kurdistan Regional Government, employees’ salaries. Kurdish soldiers were marginalized within the Iraqi new army until ISIS attacked the Kurdistan region. The Kurdistan Regional asked for military support to the Iraqi government in order to face such attack, without a response. We had therefore to resort on European countries, Canada and the USA for arms and air support, conjugated with the bravery of the Peshmerga. Together, we have been able to defeat ISIS within the borders of the Kurdistan Region. After this, we felt that we do not have the same rights than the rest of the Iraqi people. For this reason, we, Kurds, and sundry political entities and all regional nations, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Armenians want to make the date of 25 September 2017 our day of Independence. We aspire to be a democratic country for all inhabitants: Muslims, Christians, Yezidis and Kakayees, all of them living in a liberated country where justice and equality prevail. We proved our good will by providing relief to more than 2 million displaced persons from other parts of Iraq and Syria who are now sheltered in our region. As citizen of this region, I will participate and vote Yes for Kurdistan Region referendum on 25 September 2017.

Falah Hasan

IYDU Vice Chairman & International Director of the Youth of Kurdistan Democratic Party

07 October 2017
This text was published in Bullseye issue 69