The strike is in Action and the Tents are Up - By Shenah A

“Not only 17 days but if takes 17 months we will be here till we achieve our demands”

What is new? Things are happening everywhere at full force and its getting everyone excited and hungry for more. Today, more than yesterday, the day before, and the days before it, the crowd(s) was larger than ever before. I counted more females in the crowd along with children. The stage was moved closer to the roundabout in the square facing five different strategic directions in the bazaar. More and more women and men were going on up on the stage and screaming into the Microphone. “I’m not finished yet; we have so much to say. We have been keeping it inside for 20 years,” said a mother.

Workers go on the stage in their work clothes and read poems about their hard working days making little money-while they say the sons of the elite and political pleaders change their latest model cars weekly. “And they say we are trouble makers and are out in the streets just for the heck of it. Let them live one day of my life and see why I am here protesting, said a young boy with his shit covered with white paint spots from top to bottom. A beautiful young girl was now on the stage screaming with all her power, “I graduated four years ago as one the top 10 in my college and they have yet to hire me anywhere. You know what though; some of my friends who passed only because they belonged to one of the two main parties are now making money. If that is not corruption- I don’t know what is!”

The stories go and on and we listen and applaud. Once in a while the boys scream, “Down with the government”, “You days are over, what are you waiting for?” and “Sarok ba qorbant bet”.

Then the music
comes back on and
everyone sings, “In
the square of
Kurdishness, which
is the capital of
thoughts and
opinions- we all
scream with one
voice- our dreams
are played out
here.”, with
thousands of hands
waving in the air along with the colorful Kurdish flags. Then more speakers hop on the stage, followed by applause and cheering. Whenever someone comes to speak—they shout, “Baxebyt, baxerbyt”, “Welcome, Welcome!”

We move around to get a panoramic view
of the thousands and thousands of protesters
that keep coming and going. At times
it feels like a dream or something
out of a surreal film. Behind the protesters
close to the nonfunctioning fountain, you
find paintings, posters, signs that have the
names of the dead (8 people
have been killed so far in Sulimany and the
surrounding towns”, the names of the injured,
arrested and the lawyers
representing them pro-bono.

Often, the boys start making funny jokes about the speakers and one another, which leads to loud laughter all around. “Check him out- he is older than my grandfather and he calls himself young”, “She is so big if she falls on us we will all be wiped out.” Meanwhile, the street vendors have more business than ever selling, Shelm(Steamed turnip in grape syrup), Gollabaroja(sun flower seeds), sweets, ice cream, hot bread and tea. All the aromas from the food mixed with the thousands of cigarette smokes intoxicate the crowds. The women and the non smokers often force the men to throw their cigarettes away. “Please, you have been choking us! There should be a new law against smoking too in the new constitution.”

With all these communications and different topics discussed daily in the square, what is clear is that everyone is united in their cause for justice and the need for the birth of new fresh era. They are all there: males and females, intellectuals and laborers, believers and non believers, young and old—coming from all parts of Kurdistan in their demands for a better, more just, more equal and tolerant society.

To achieve all of these demands, people have been in the streets of Sulimany for the past 17 days and say they will continue as long as it will take. They are here to achieve it peacefully! They say, “No to violence,” “No to civil war and shedding of more blood.” They also repeat over and over again that, “even if they kill and injure us, we will fight harder toward our victory peacefully.”

Today was the 21 year anniversary of the 1991 uprising in Rania, a town close to Suliamany. The people of Ramia were also out protesting and didn’t want the authorities to celebrate in their town. Monday, the 7th is the 21 anniversary of the uprising here in Sulimany, which later lead to the establishment of the ‘No fly zone’ that paved the way for this Kurdish autonomy. The protesters have decided to do an overall strike all over the city. They have asked everyone to joined them in this new ‘uprising’ against ‘the injustices of the past 20 years’. So far hundreds and hundreds of places have said they will comply with the strike.

Today, the organizers of the protestors tried something new: They asked the protesters to bring tents with them and set them up in the square. They have decided to camp out over night, “As long as it takes!” The three oppositional channels were showing footage of the protesters on strike in the middle of the night in their tents. “It is cold but we shall stay as long as it will take.”

Like today, tomorrow is also a public holiday—this means more people will be out in the square. There will be more people to check out the tents and the new protesters on hunger strike and those camping out over night.

Things are looking good and more peaceful these days. The expectations are greater than ever and people are hoping the authorities will listen to them soon. “It is that or they shall face the fate of Mubarak,” said one of the old men inside the Rezari tent.

They continue to continue and we are with them every step of the way. We are together-we are one- we are here to stay!

Tomorrow is a new day my friends!


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March 6, 2011
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