A dialogue with the wall
Dr. Artin - San Francisco, Oct 1, 2006 (Rev)
Dr. Artin is a member of Kurdish American Education Society and Kurdish National congress of North America; however, his views are not reflecting the views of all members.
Many talented signers and musicians were the guests of The San Francisco World Music Festival (SFWMF) form September 29 to October 1, 2006. They performed their unique style individually and their common theme of representing our culture collectively. They included Aynur (Saz, Vocal), Kourosh Moradi (Tanbur, Vocals), Mico Kendes (Vocals, Buzuk), Rojan (Vocals), Nariman Gunes (Viola), Omar Avci (Daf, Percusion), Cemil Kocgun (Baglama), Hussein Zahavi (Daf, Percusion), and Ulas Oezdemir (Saz, lecturer). It is very difficult for our people to separate even such cultural events from politic. Since SFWMF and musicians in the festival were rightfully not of any specific political conviction, a friend of mine and I volunteered to present our views on the cause of a divided people and their hope for unity and independence. Following is the summery of my presentation for the event. I compared that talking to the opponents of these people resembles a dialogue with a wall.
I started with the argument that the divided people are the descendents of Ancient Gutis (3000BC) and Medes (800 BC), live in an area of 190000-390000 sq km surrounding Zagros Mountains, have a today population of 25-40 millions, and like any other nation, share a common origin, history, language, and customs. The wall answered: So What? They have been and remain a part of our nation/s.
I argued, they were self ruling principalities before nation states, split in the 16th century between the Ottoman and Persian empires, promised in the treaty of Severs in 1922 to be one of the new states, then in 1923 in treaty of Lausanne further divided and “assigned” to Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and since then treated like foster children by four abusive governments! The wall replied: These people are primitive and dangerous, so somebody has to control them. They can not rule themselves
I reminded the wall that they tried as principalities and emirates such as the Emirate of Soran (1816-1835), Badinan, Betlis, Baban, Ardlan, etc. Mahmood Barzanji proclaimed himself the King of Southern part in 1922. Republic of Ararat was created from 1927-1931 in Northern part, and Republic of Mahabad in Eastern part from 1945-1946. Each time you didn’t let them survive. Now if you let them they might get somewhere in Souther part of their land, where since the 1990s the KRG has been functioning like any other government, without being recognized by any states. The wall argued: The problem is internal, which means these people themselves are at fault?
I agreed that the wall might have a point; I remembered that culturally, these divided people are very adaptive and some of them even submissive that they would serve others before themselves! Some have ignored their own customs and faiths, but promoted the one of their invaders! Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have been manipulating some of the submissive leaders and uneducated masses to serve them as brave guardians and nothing more. But I think there are other challenges that the divided people are facing or have been facing. Geographically their land is rich in natural resources, and yet is under the control of four undemocratic states who exploit and terrorize the natives, as if it is their colony. Politically the enlightenment in the 19th century changed many parts of the world, but not the Middle East. Neither the right nor the left has been able to understand these people's second class citizen status striving for national liberation. In terms of traumatic experiences many of these people still have nightmares from the bombing, gassing, kidnapping, massacres, assassination, rape, and torture of their loved ones. Their suffering needs to end and they should be free.
The wall replied angrily: No one has the right to interfere with our territorial integrity, we all are a single nation, the official language is our language but “regional and tribal languages” may be used in private.
I gently asked, so they are allowed to have a tribal dream and should be careful not to have a serious hope for equality! But didn’t Saddam have a similar mind set about these people? The wall said: yes, but we have better expertise. We answer tough questions with justice “in the name of god, the compassionate, the merciful”.
I questioned if such an attitude was democratic. The more fanatic part of the wall answered: well, some of us such as Asad don’t even recognize your citizenship and existence! Some of us like the democratic Erdogan doesn’t want you even in Argentina and even does not recognize your animals. As you know the Turkish environment ministry declared Vulpes Vulpes can not have its full name.
I asked the wall, but how long can you expect to rule over these divided people! Injustice and oppression usually ends. Just look at the history of mankind: Americans before 1776, African American slaves before 1865, Women’s in US before 1920, Jews before 1948, Indians before 1947, South African before 1994, Berliners before 1989. All of them made the wall of their opponents collapse. Do you remember what happened to the controllers of many nations such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and, Uzbekistan, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Eritrea, East Timor? They all have their own identity and have joined the UN now. Why should these divided people be an exception?
I emphasized, walls that are created by threats and force needs to collapse for the sake of humanity. In order to expedite breaking the walls that control a divided people and separate them from each other, they need to: Adapt new ideas and methods, make education a priority, become unite around their language, culture and national interests, promote their own culture before Arabic, Turkish and Persian culture, develop their economy and have economic and cultural exchanges with other countries including the controversial ones, if needed, and while standing firm for their own rights, forgive the oppressors once they are in power. And as Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. Therefore they should not act like their oppressors in order to promote peace! If world peace takes time, hopefully they keep Affection, Reason, and Tolerance in mind and like the organizer of this festival use art to promote understanding and an inner peace of mind.