I first heard of the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr soon after American forces occupied Baghdad in 2003. His men were implicated in the stabbing murder of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Majid al-Khoi, who was a custodian of a Shia holy mosque in Najaf. Soon after, Sadr’s men launched attacks on the US forces as well, and the occupation authorities issued a “kill or capture” warrant for Sadr that was not enforced or pursued with conviction.
To me, Sadr represented what was wrong with the ‘new’ Iraq. Though his father was murdered by Saddam Hussain, Sadr and his supporters never waged a war against the regime, unlike other opponents like the Kurds or, in the case of the Shia, the Badr organisation which had a few hundred armed men in the PUK-controlled territories of Kurdistan. Sadr was late to the party and picked a fight with the wrong guy.
Continue reading “The Return of Muqtada al-Sadr”
On International Women’s Day, I received the disturbing news that a former Facebook friend, Rizkiye Eribol, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in Turkey for her pro-Kurdish commentary on social media. My heart goes out to her and her young daughter, Selma. No matter what she shared on Facebook and she shared nothing but innocuous words, she did not deserve to spend a day incarcerated, let alone facing 18 months away from her daughter in unjust and cruel deprivation of her liberty.
Continue reading “Free Rizkiye Eribol”
Evolving realities on the ground in Syria for the last 3 years. Syria would have been lost to radical Islamism, had it not been for the Kurdish resurgence beginning with the US support in the liberation of Kobani in late 2014.
Remember the jihadi selfie at the gate of Kobani? How times have changed! This is me writing on 16 November 2014 when the battle was raging on inside Kobani:
“There is still a long way to go in this battle. Once the Kurdish Stalingrad is completely liberated, the YPG and allied forces will begin to expel ISIS from nearby villages and the country side until the entire Kobani canton is also freed from medieval barbarian invaders. This war will not end until the forces representing life, liberty and modernity march into Raqqa, and destroy the forces representing medievalism, death and darkness in their place of origin.”
The myth has it that 2600 or so years ago there lived on the outskirts of Zagros Mountains a people ruled by a cruel king named Dehaq. King Dehaq was a supernatural evil as evident in the two snakes that grew on his two shoulders; snakes that demanded special delicacy for food. Thus, two children would be plucked from among his subjects, and their brains fed to the snakes.
Below the darkness of the evil king’s castle lived an ironsmith named Kawa. Kawa had sacrificed all his children except one. Dehaq ordered for the last one too to be brought for his snakes. Kawa, with the help of the king’s cook, tricked him by offering a sheep’s brain instead. Thus, his child and other children were saved and were sent high up in the mountains where they lived free and grew into a small army.
When the time came, Kawa led the small army in revolt, broke into the king’s castle and smashed Dehaq’s head with his hammer. The people were freed and the news was spread around the kingdom by fires lit on the mountain tops. A new day, Newroz, was declared. And those saved children who led people to liberation became the ancestors of Kurds.
Happy Newroz! Newroz piroz be!
A few of my fellow Kurdish Australians raised objections to celebrating this day in terms of relations with indigenous communities.
History could have unfolded differently, for the better as well as for the worse for indigenous Australians, since 26 January 1788. No one can deny the history of violence, dispossession and racism towards the indigenous communities in Australia since the start of the European colonisation.
Should that be a sufficient reason to mark Australia Day with national grief instead of celebration? In my view it is not. That this great nation was built upon the sweat and toil of 1000 social outcasts sentenced to death, however, is a good reason to celebrate.
Continue reading “On Australia Day, January 26”
Here is a sad story that I wanted to share since I contacted my family on Facebook 2 years ago.
Meet Bambi. I met her once too on the stairs of my Department of Housing building in Lilyfield some time in the early-2013. We had a brief eye contact and exchanged smiles; I said Hi, she said Hi, and we walked past each other.
A month later, I asked my neighbour who that pretty girl was. “My ex-girlfriend”, he said. “Lucky man! Are you back together?” “She is dead”, he said. Bambi had committed suicide. She was 36 years of age.
Any young person ending their life, for whatever reason, is sad enough, but the more I learned about this girl the deeper my heart sank for her and her family and the more intensely I reflected about my own. It is important that I talk about her because there are other untold migration stories in hers.
Continue reading “Bearing Witness to Bambi”