first experience with a "real" Kurd (not
the cousin of someone's wife that used to live in
once, or the new bride of so and so that is 1/8th
Kurd, etc.) was a few short months after the fall
of Shah's regime. One of our neighbors had been amongst
the thousands of people who took part in looting of
Shah's army bases. This was not an act of larceny
or senseless vandalism. The two days that ended the
reign of Monarchy in Tehran were filled with street
battles as certain bases and officers were disobeying
their superior's orders and were defending their barracks
with every bullet they had available. As the other
bases fell to people's incursion, many were arming
themselves to either join battles in other parts of
the city or to stash them away, expecting a retaliation
of sort to follow any possible change of government.
Perhaps remembering what had happened 3 decades ago
and the first time they got rid of their monarch under
the leadership of Dr. Mossadegh.
neighbor of ours had kept what he had taken, despite
the calls by the new government to turn the weapons
in within days of announcing a new government. One
day while we were just being kids, playing outdoors,
raising some havoc of one kind or another, his son
bragged that tonight "the Kurds" are coming
to take their guns. I could not prevent my nosey self
to stay clear of that and on that night, I used all
the trick a 12 year old can think of to get an invitation
to their house and be present at this historic exchange.
after a late supper that evening, the father allowed
an old light-colored Paykan
into their covered garage and out walked this guy
in a full traditional Kurdish outfit. He was a towering
man of about 40, with a sun darkened skin, a big moustache
and looked as if he could take on 5 wrestlers at once.
Kak Abdullah was the first Kurd I had met.
a few short minutes and after swiftly downing the
mandatory tea served to every guest entering an Iranian
household, some money exchanged hands and Kak Abdullah
picked up the small arsenal hidden under a bed in
my friend's room, opened the trunk of his car and
put the G3,
plus an army sleeping bag full of ammunition and grenades
besides other weapons already in there and pulled
the car out. As he drove away, I followed him through
the rooftops, climbing from one to another and watched
when he stopped at the main intersection and picked
up a passenger, a younger man dressed in what can
be described as a peasant's outfit and then they both
drove off. The passenger had obviously acted as the
lookout, while this entire transaction was taking
the next few months after that, an all out war broke
out within the Kurdish provinces of Iran. The main
Kurdish political entity; Democratic Party of Iranian
Kurdistan (PDKI), that was advocating politics of
self-rule and autonomy within the borders of Iran,
had been joined by other forces in the region in taking
control of the cities and villages across the land.
The new regime saw this as a challenge to its authority
and despite attempts by several political figures
of the time to mediate the situation in a democratic
and non-violent way, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa,
opening the doors to a massive operation to take back
control of the region for the central government.
Thousands were slaughtered during this time and years
later, I still hear stories such as the way artillery
and tank brigades took control of the hills surrounding
the city of Mahabd and started shelling the city and
its civilian population at random for days at a time.
Many families still have their dead buried in their
own backyards as they could not leave their houses
for a long time.
forward to earlier this year. A few days before the
invasion of Iraq I reconnected with an old Kurd friend.
We had always had a close understanding of one another,
the type you don't need to explain yourself to for
mutual understanding. We had attended many events
together before and organized even more. We linked
and bonded through his party; the PDKI,
my party; the NDP,
and together through Socialist
was cautious yet cheerful and very light-hearted.
I wanted to warn him of the road ahead, of the way
they will be abandoned and used again, the destination
this path was leading to, where nothing resembled
where they wanted to go. But it was too late. He said
I was not being sensible to think differently; Zalmay
Khalilzad himself had invited them to a meeting in
Turkey to reinforce their commitments and to ensure
that the Kurds will not be used again. This time was
going to be different. The Kurds will be running the
show, they were told. Their demands will be front
few days later, the bombs started to drop.
forward to last Thursday evening. My mobile phone
rings, it's him. I can't talk, being in the middle
of something else. I ask if I can call him back, he
says not yet but he only needs 30 seconds. I listen
as his voice is crumbling. He says you were right.
I take no joy in hearing that. He says he has had
enough. He had doubted things when Turkish troops
were invited to guard their land but when "they"
had asked Talabani to go meet
Ayatollah Sistani and negotiate his approval, he knew
this was not their show anymore. They are instruments
of the occupiers now, officially. He just wanted to
say I was right and he'll call as soon as he reaches
there's such a thing as reincarnation, I must've been
a Kurd in my past life. How could you not respect
and admire the people who have survived some of the
most vicious attacks by enemies from near and far
for a big part of modern history, yet have managed
to maintain their dignity, their unique sense of culture
and arts, their wonderful customs and language, and
their distinctive outlook on life? A smile is never
that far from the lips of a Kurd when meeting a stranger,
and neither is a song when happy or a scream when
facing injustice. Kurds personify what every human
being strives to be; strong, sensitive, responsible
and sincere. This also is the main problem with the
my experience, Kurds cant fathom that others are not
like Kurds. They are sincere to a fault, candid to
an end, trusting to their own ruin. They believed
Ambassador Zalmay as they believed many before him.
They don't know how not to.
more I like to say on this, perhaps for another time
though. Maybe after he's in Europe. Maybe.
now, all I can say is; Freedom for Iran, Autonomy
can read more of Pedram Moallemian at his weblog,
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