Yesterday, Iraqi forces invaded the kurdish city of kirkuk with 200 tanks, because thats how you respond to an independence referendum.
They evicted people, killed people, pulled down our flags and burned them, stomped on them, even shot at them. Imagine a flag being able to cause that much hatred and anger, someone despising your very existence that much. At the same time, imagine your own flag being pulled from its masts and replaced with a foreign one, and being told that is what you are loyal to now. Forget your langage, culture, and centuries of heritage your people might have. Kurds do not exist. You are not valid.
State officials fled and left people to die. Kurdish soldiers fought until they ran out of bullets and were forced to surrender. What good is an AK against a tank? The rest of our army was in Syria liberating Raqqa from ISIS. Whilst one city was freed, another was imprisoned.
As we watched with horror and disbelief, we thought surely someone would do something. We helped recapture mosul, hawija and now raqqa. Time and time again, Kurdish sodiers put thier lives on the line in the name of liberty, surely that warrants respect and support from someone. Apparently not.
The Kurdish flag will fly again in Kirkuk. We don’t know when, but it will. And when it does, it will symbolise a people that have existed for over 1000 years, that have developed a culture, language, food and music entirely unique to the middle east, that have fought and will fight for the freedom of people not just in kurdistan but across the world.
We survived the ottomans. We survived Saddam. We sirvived ISIS. We will survive this, because we exist. Kurds exist. We are not iraq. We are not Turkey. We are not Iran. We are not Syria.
Goshan’s parents were Kurdish freedom fighters in Iraq during the rule of Saddam Hussein. They immigrated as political refugees to England, where Goshan was raised.
After graduating with a master’s degree, she gave up her life in England to return to the Kurdistan region in Iraq, where she is now a biology teacher. I met her there, last year. She told me she grew up feeling a sense of responsibility to help the development of her homeland after such a long period of war and unrest.