Love for Our Homeland, Kurdistan

Kurdishaspect.om - By Sheinei
                      
Although this piece was written for a non-Kurdish magazine, I do hope that as a Kurd, you find it a positive read and continue to support our dedicated youth such as Apo Welatparez.

When approached to contribute to this month’s issue with the time appropriate theme of love in intangible but rewarding ways; the most noble of love came into mind; the love in which one gives without the slightest expectation and that is the very love one has for his or her country.  Growing up around family and friends with so much passion and dedication to Kurdistan, I immediately knew what I wanted to write about.  As today’s Kurdish youth, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by many great examples from the older generation as well as our own peers, who continue to show us what it means to love and sacrifice for our homeland.

In his poem, I am in Love, Apo Welatparez writes, "I am in love despite the fact that I am a Kurd."   This irony - that Kurds are able to feel love for their homeland even after a history fraught with persecution, violence and murder is nonetheless one that is shared by many Kurdish youth like Welaparez who, although thousands of miles away, lives for Kurdistan. 

Kurds have an unusual bond.  Inextricably tied together by similar stories of discrimination, murder, chemical attacks, displacement, oppression, war and outright denial of existence, Kurds share many memories of ethnic cleansing and political persecution.

In fact, any Kurd who dared to speak about Kurdish rights, or recalls the lingering smell of explosives in their nostrils, or the difficulty singing the mandatory songs of praise to leaders who unjustly took away their loved ones, understands the depth of this bond.     
      
Long nights and days spent in the shivering cold hiding in Kurdistan’s mountains to escape retribution simply for being Kurdish, too many Kurdish people suddenly taken from their beds in the night, Kurdish children whose stomachs were in knots from both fear and hunger – these are a few of our stories of suffering and resilience. 

Perhaps it is this pain of injustice that fuels the passion and love in artists such as Apo.  As his name connotes, "protector of one's country," Apo's passion for Kurdistan is both transparent and contagious. His work is dedicated to celebrating and teaching Kurdish identity so it can be preserved.  Several of his short films have been included in International film conventions and his poems have been published online. "My art touches peoples' hearts as many are so tired of politics," he told me.

Despite our struggle against historical hatred and genocidal efforts to wipe out our people, oppression goes on today.  Yet there are a growing number of Kurdish people who, like Welatparez are positively contributing to a brighter future for Kurdistan in non-political ways with their poetry, their music, their pursuit for higher education, and efforts to unite Kurdish communities by sponsoring discussion groups, that spread awareness of our unique culture and love of our homeland.

Although since the 1980s thousands of Kurds have left Kurdistan - one of the more violent times in Kurdish history - most Kurds share the dream of a united and free Kurdistan, wanting to eventually return and enrich our country with our "talents and dreams - to where [they] all started." 

Living in the West and elsewhere around the world has offered insights of a myriad of possibilities for a better Kurdish society.  Kurds have come to understand the importance of such things as the freedom of speech, education and healthcare.  But life in the Diaspora has a very different meaning for us.  I am sure I am not alone when I say that we are caught between two worlds and most of us feel that where we initially opened our eyes, is where we ultimately belong. Despite the obstacles thrust in our way, our "Vandalized home [is] blessed to most of us"-writes Welatparez.   
    
Through so many years of suppression, denial of our identity, slaughter of our people, war and turmoil, Kurds remain optimistic, believing that sharing the preciousness of our culture with the world community will enable us to one day achieve self determination that will be accepted by our neighboring countries.

Perhaps the late Kurdish poet, Sheikmous Hasan (pseudonym “Cigerxwin” meaning the “the bleeding heart” in Kurdish) summarizes this best when he writes,

I am not blood thirsty;
no, I adore peace.
Noble were my ancestors;
sincere are my leaders,
We don't ask for war but demand equality
but our enemies are the ones who betray and lie.
Friendship I seek and offer my hands
to all friendly nations.
Long live Kurdistan!

           Even after all the hatred and mass murdering of our ancestors and our former neighbors, we are not bitter.  Anger and hatred only eat away at the soul.  We see a bright future and we are hopeful that through communication with our neighbors in the Middle East and the West, peace and acceptance will be ours. Through compassion and understanding we are committed to building bridges and creating a world that is free and safe for generations to come – a future where differences are celebrated rather than eradicated.


For the complete copy of Apo Welatparez’s poem, please visit:

http://www.kurdyouth.org/arts/00031.htm



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February 12, 2009
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