By Aras Ahmed Mhamad:
The Yazidi genocide is not the only genocide committed against the Kurds and perhaps, heaven forbid, it won’t be the last as political party rivalries, political leadership crises and internal disunity are growing and have been part of the Kurdish Liberation Movement and Kurdish struggle for centuries.
Kurdish national identity is marked by resistance and fearlessness while politically and ideologically deeply divided. Kurdish fearless nature is a reflection of Kurdistan’s steep mountains. Kurdish disunity is a reflection of Kurdistan’s vastness and its regions separated by natural rivers. Kurds are known for a remarkable combination of courage and disunity. Moreover, it is true that while Kurdistan has always been attacked, scattered and conquered, Kurds have always enjoyed some sort of internal administration and internal independence.
Successive genocides, terrorization and the policy of persecution have only made the Kurds stronger: as the saying goes, what does not kill you makes you stronger. The success story of Nadia Murad is a concrete proof that a woman or man can be killed but not defeated. Nadia Murad is now officially the United Nations goodwill ambassador. Nadia’s resistance as a Kurd and a female and her fearless charisma in telling the story, in front of large crowds in international platforms while the world listens, of her rape is a reflection of Mountain Shangal’s roughness and resilience. If Kurds were united and had the chance to tell and write all their own stories, there would have been millions of traumatic stories similar to Nadia’s.
Nadia, a 19-year-old girl from a ravaged Kurdish village of Kocho, did not cover up her rape. Nadia did not just accept herself to be a victim of some brutal mindless jihadis, but instead she stood up and made her voice heard. She avoided being portrayed as a victim and that is exactly what the Kurdish political leadership must do to rid themselves of the victim narratives they so often use as an excuse to hide their failures. That’s exactly what every Kurdish woman should do. Kurds need to abandon the thought of being seen as victims. Kurdish political leadership has failed to help the Kurds to uproot that thought. Kurds are humans just like everyone else and any Kurds that see themselves as victims may need to learn a lesson, not from their selfish party leaders but from Nadia’s bravery.
It is time for Kurds to stop allowing others to misuse their goodwill under the name of religious beliefs and so-called brotherhood notions. It is time for Kurds to prevent the exploitation of their religious sympathy. Kurdish disunity has caused huge human and material losses to countless Kurdish people and Kurds became the victims of polluted agendas for centuries.
We have defeated ISIS/Daesh in Kobane and elsewhere when Daesh’s brutality reached its peak and the international community was just watching. Their sudden expansion in Iraq and Syria was the kind of news Kurds are accustomed to. We have made a step forward this time although some Kurds have joined Daesh’s ranks and are trying to plant the seed of lies and betrayal among the population.
Nadia is a living example of a Kurdish woman who fought against all the cultural taboos and odds and her voice is not only that of a Kurd but also the voice of millions of young girls who suffer on a daily basis. It is true that Nadia represents Kurdish tragic history, that of the Yazidi community, and she acts for the Kurdish national interest generally but is also a human rights fighter for justice and a defender of women’s struggles. She didn’t surrender to sexual enslavement or see herself as a mere hopeless victim. Her tears have made her sturdier. Cries of Yezidi females and real catastrophic human stories have made Kurdish national identity legitimate yet also real and authentic.
Nadia has determinedly campaigned not only on her own plight but also on atrocities against young girls both locally and worldwide. Kurdish political leadership must learn a lesson from this slim yet strong girl. They need to stop their domination over schools, courts, universities, hospitals, factories, roads and bridges. They have to stop their bargaining with Kurdish blood and mismanagement of natural resources. They must put an end to the portrayal of Kurds as victims in order to gain popularity and wealth and glamorize themselves.
Nadia’s gang-rape by Daesh, her being sold, treated as spoils of war and put in a cell, the tragic killing of her brothers and destruction of her village did not make her weak. She did not want to be seen as a fragile wasted person.
Nadia now symbolizes the traumatic wound of all Yazidi people who were barbarously oppressed. She demonstrates the power of the feminine. She as a strong woman survived the wound and overcame it. Now she is empowered to liaise and campaign to gain international support and humanitarian needs for her deeply traumatized nation. She has the true Kurdish spirit of resistance.
Aras Ahmed Mhamad is a journalist based in the Kurdistan region. He has contributed to Fair Observer, The World Weekly, Newsweek Middle East, The New Arab, and Your Middle East, among others. He is the author of ” School and University: A Fundamental Roadmap For Self Awareness, Democracy and Sovereignty”