Kurdish Azadi is Not for Sale


I was in high school when the American occupation of Iraq began. I remember the months of dramatic media reports and passionate debates that preceded the invasion, and I remember how physically upset I would get at imagining the cost in lives of the invasion.

I remember it was also the first time I learned more about the Kurds. “Look what Saddam did to the Kurds!” warhawks would cry. “Does this man deserve to stay in power?” Even at that young age I could spot the false logic. Yes, the Kurds had suffered immensely, as I quickly learned. But something felt instinctively wrong about using that suffering to promote more suffering. And yet the invasion of Iraq went on.

Unfortunately it is a cruelty of the world that those in power would rather exploit the powerless rather than genuinely empower them. Because Kurds are already vulnerable to human rights abuses, many political players advance their interests by claiming to be vouching for Kurdish interests. This not only advances their cause, but puts yet another roadblock on the path of Kurdish freedom.

For instance, take Gerald A. Honigman. A self proclaimed educator who has “conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth”, Honigman’s writings are bizarrely racist exaggerations that center around asserting Israel’s claim to the Middle East. Yet Honigman took it upon himself to write an article aggressively defending the Kurdish right to a state. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Honigman is absolutely correct that the Kurdish struggle is no less noble or worthy than any Arab struggle. But he exploits this point in order to advocate for his own agenda, to push his own interests, and to conflate support for the Kurds with standing against Arabs and against Palestine. Honigman brings up the Mavi Marmara and the irony of Turkey’s support for Palestine while “while the Turks are slaughtering or subjugating tens of millions of Kurds in Turkey at the same time”. Indeed, the Kurds have more than their share of hypocrisy from the Turkish government; they have no need for a second helping from such “supporters” such as Honigman.

The frustration doesn’t stop there. Not only are the Kurds bounced around like a beach ball by their “supporters”, but they are also used for the dirty tactics of their oppressors as well. PressTV, a media agency sponsored by the Iranian government, is claiming that the entire Kurdish revolt against the Assad regime is simply a plot by the US and the UK. Rather than admit that the Kurds themselves are powerful, rather than give credit to the months of struggle, to the beautiful protests of the Kurdish people in Syria, PressTV instead decided to hide all of that by blaming Kurdish rebellion on foreign agents in order to smear the Syrian revolution. The Kurds have suffered for too long under the Syrian government, and under the Iranian government. For PressTV to then dismiss the entire Kurdish rebellion is an insult to the sacrifices of the Kurds and legitimately dangerous to the Kurdish cause. Should any Arabs or Iranians actually believe PressTV’s remarks, Kurds may be even more vulnerable to human rights abuses at their hands, especially since they are already seen as outsiders by dominant groups.

From whatever side it comes from, the exploitation of the Kurdish cause for a set political agenda is a direct abuse against Kurdish human rights. Justice for one group is never contradictory with another, and anyone who tries to claim otherwise is a fraud. Human rights are human for a reason, and Kurdish human rights, Kurdish azadi is not for sale.