The fleeing prisoners


When the earth is burning beneath our feet, we seek a place where it is cool, where our pain is relieved.

In Syria the earth is burning beneath the feet of the Kurdish people and when they seek relief, they are sent back to the suffering and agony.

The Syrian Kurds are the fleeing prisoners.

Decree number 93

Kimê ez? Cegerxwîn, a renowned Kurdish poet, asked. Who am I?
No one, answered the Syrian regime, you do not exist, the Kurds do not exist.

On the 23rd of August 1962 the Syrian regime ordered a census in the governorate of Al Hasakah. Al Hasakah is situated in the northeast corner of Syria and is therefore mainly inhabited by Kurdish fugitives from Turkey and Iraq.

Decree number 93 was carried out on the 5th of October 1962 and it was fatal for the Kurdish people, seeing as 120.000 Kurds lost their Syrian citizenship. The number of Kurds without a citizenship has according to the Human Rights Watch since grown to 300.000 because the descendants have not been given citizenship even though they are born in Syria.

In the beginning of February I returned home from a three month long stay in Qamishlo (Al Kamishli), a city situated in the governorate of Al Hasakah.
During my stay I noticed that my dear Qamishlo had changed since my last visit in 2008.

The Kurdish people used to silently accept the discrimination of the Syrian regime and arbitrary imprisonments of Kurdish men and their sons, but today they are fleeing, trying to escape the burning Syrian ground.

I discovered that members of my family secretly bought passports in order to leave the country as soon as the opportunity arose.
During my Arabic lessons my teacher asked if I could teach him English and Danish. I taught my cousin German and my grand cousin Danish in case their wildest dreams came true and they were able to leave Syria.
I heard children insist on their parents selling the house to raise money for the children´s flight.
A disappointed woman told me that the man who was supposed to smuggle her family across the border had been arrested by the police.
A young man told me that he had quit his job in Lebanon and was now just sitting at home, waiting for the rain to pour down on the family farm and giving him a chance to sell the crops and leave Syria.

Every night they talked about fleeing. Every night they talked about poverty. Every night they blamed Assad, each other but never themselves for their missing identity.

The frightened people

We are the Kurdish people, Cegerxwîn wrote, we are rebellion and volcano, we are dynamite and fire.
But the age of Cegerxwîn seemed long gone, the last thing the Syrian Kurds seemed to be was a volcano, dynamite, fire and least of all rebellion. They were afraid and are still afraid.

Ketin xewe, ketin xewe, ketin xewa zilm u zore, ketin xewa bindestiye, Cegerxwîn continued. The Kurds have been lulled into a deep sleep by their oppressors but also by themselves.
They think passivity, they think sleep is the safest way to survive in Syria and it seems impossible to wake them.

It seems impossible but it is not.

I told them that I would be their freedom fighter if they were afraid to be their own. The smiled at me and said: “If you revolt against Assad the police will not torture you, but your family. They will hurt you by hurting us.”
I insisted we do something; I insisted I do something, but my family said no, you do not live here, you do not understand it.

But I do understand. I understand that when you are being oppressed you have two options: either you fight the oppressor or you accept the oppressor.
If you fight, the blood of the oppressor and the oppressed is spilled, but if you do not rebel only the blood of the oppressed is spilled. I do understand.

I also understand that a freedom fighter must not only have the strength to fight his enemies. He must also have the strength to fight fear and despondency among his fellows.

But it is not the fear and despondency among the Kurdish youth that must be fought. Indeed, the Kurdish youth, both boys and girls, men and women, are ready to fight oppression, to walk the streets demanding recognition of their existence and identity and calling for democracy.

A friend of mine who was imprisoned in 2005 and tortured every day rebelled against his parent´s fear of the regime. He told me in details about his imprisonment, he took me to grave of a famous Kurdish singer though it is forbidden and he introduced me to a couple that is openly criticizing Assad and his regime.

I have felt Kurdish youth´s discontent of the Syrian government and their love for Qamishlo, Amude, Afrin, Hasakah, Derike, Serê Ganiyê, Derbesiyê and Kobani.
The Kurdish youth does not want to leave their beloved Kurdistan but they do not want to remain without identity either.

Another dragon must awake

Bele em in ejdehaye, ji xewa dili, siyar bun niha, Cegerxwîn concludes in his poem.
The Kurds will not sleep forever. Cegerxwîn compares the Kurdish people to a dragon that is waking up, ready to avenge all injustice.

The dragon is my generation; the dragon is the young men and women. Their sleep is not as deep as our parents’ and grandparents’.

They can become rebellion and volcano, dynamite and fire if only they are fearless.
The dragons in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya awoke from their sleep, they fought, are still fighting and the Kurdish dragon must awake and fight with them against oppression.

And the Kurdish dragon did; it is slowly awaking.