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March 18, 2009
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Hawlati Pays for Freedom - By Dana Newzer Ali

When I first entered primary school, I was told, “The tree of freedom will not give fruits if it is not watered with blood.” It sounded awkward to me, and I could realize that there is an error. Many people believed –and still believe- in that statement, so they did their best to water the mysterious tree of freedom with their blood. We gained freedom, but we didn’t lose love of blood, so it was necessary to continue the red path. The previous motto changed into, “freedom means nothing without blood.” The nasty trick was revealed, and it was obvious that the factor behind our battles, fights and wars was not freedom, but blood and death itself.

There were some people who didn’t choose blood as their way to express their love of freedom, but they were few, very few. The upper voice was that of the vampires. Several years ago, some of the real freedom fighters in this region published the first independent newspaper under the name of (Hawlati). It was the right start for a longer journey for the sake of freedom. The attempt was risky, and the road was paved with obstacles, but they continued and didn’t give in. After a long struggle, independent newspapers and magazines became a fact which can’t be ignored. Some of those freedom fighters were assassinated like Soran Mame Hama, Dr. Abdulstar Sherif. Others were on the assassination list but rescued like Ahmed Mira, and some of them were put into jail and sentenced like Dr. Kemal Said Qadir, Nabaz Goran, Nasih Abdurrahim, Jasim Muhamma, Shwan Dawudi, Twana Ahmed, and many others. But the last triumph was for those who didn’t surrender to the tyrant wishes of the Kurdish authorities. With the Parliament’s resolution regarding the law of press, free people recorded another success on their way towards freedom of speech and personal liberties. But the press law was not the end of the game. Kurdish government which is run by the two main parties PUK and PDK tries to shut up press’s mouth and prevent it from anything which may threaten its stability.

Michel Rubin, an American writer, published an article on the corruption in Kurdistan and mentioned the wealth of each of Talabani and Barzani with numbers. Hawlati newspaper translated the article and published it. The facts made PUK, PDK, and their leaders angry, not because it was written by an insidious American, but because it was published in a Kurdish newspaper and presented to the Kurdish people in the region. They didn’t expect that there will be day when they will be questioned of their tremendous and burgeoning wealth, so they reacted in a very strange way. Abd Arf, who was Hawlati’s editor at that time, was prosecuted by the court and after a long time of trialing, he was charged of insulting Mr. President and imprisoned until he paid the 13,000,000 Iraqi Dinars fine. This event which happened only few fays before, reminds us of the fragile democracy that we have and the necessity of reforming and rebuilding independent courts so as to protect people’s freedom.

The strange thing is that Hawlati means citizen in English, and the truth is that it is not only hawlati newspaper which is paying for its freedom, but every hawlati is in the same struggle and facing the same difficulties.

Its only in Kurdistan and some of its sisters in the Arabic countries that people are threatened with cutting their salary if they vote for a certain political group, and it is only our destiny to have some responsible who compare Kurdistan to Sweden and say why do we need change and why do we need reform? Don’t we have electricity 12 hours a day?

It is only in this part of world where you can witness inevitability of the impossible. So editors here are charged by the court, when murderers and pilots who committed genocide run away and escape from prison!

Kurdish citizen is going through a very difficult moment. Internal and external powers are against its democratic dreams. On one side, Kurdish parties are trying to kill the last remaining of its free volition, and our neighbors are trying to bring chaos and insecurity to the region. The only thing which we as Kurdish citizens can depend on is our independent decision and dream for democracy and change in this region.

Kurdish citizen is an awaken citizen who will not be deceived by paved roads and good salary, and will not exchange his/her freedom with anything in this world, we have learnt the lesson, “if we don’t water the tree of freedom, blood will be the dominant.”

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