Kurdistan needs summer camps

Michael Rubin

By Michael Rubin:

Kurdish achievements over the past two decades have been incredible. Kurds have risen from being victims of attempted genocide to become models of recovery. Iraqi Kurdistan has its problems, but the region is nevertheless a shining example to unrepresented peoples everywhere. The issue for pride is not Kurdistan’s money and it certainly is not its corrupt and increasingly repressive government, but rather the Kurdish embrace of culture. Iran and Turkey still repress Kurdish cultural expression, but Kurdish literature, music, dance, and even theater are once again thriving in Iraqi Kurdistan. No longer do Kurds need to travel to Stockholm, Copenhagen, or Nashville to attend Kurdish concerts or peruse Kurdish bookstores.

Decades of repression have taken their toll on society, however. While some Kurds have returned to Erbil, Duhok, and Sulaymani from their European or American self-exile, most who fled repression and deprivation decades ago have not. They may be Kurdish nationalists, but they are also pragmatic: Iraqi Kurdistan does not have adequate schools and medical care, and it is hard to uproot families when spouses may not be Kurdish, and when children do not speak Kurdish. Few in the Diaspora would equate a decision to remain abroad with a desire to turn their back to Kurdish culture.

It is here that Kurdish authorities could play a role. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) controls vast tracks of land outside the cities. Perhaps some of that land might be put aside for a series of summer and wilderness camps. Across the globe, camps serve many purposes. Overnight camps provide an important opportunity to develop life-long friendships, develop personal independence and responsibility, while learning to swim, competing in athletics, and learning about nature and crafts. Many religious and ethnic communities sponsor camps for children to socialize with others of similar backgrounds.

For Kurds living in Kurdistan and those living abroad, such camps could be invaluable. Even if the KRG chooses not to use some of the Kurdish peoples’ oil revenue to subsidize attendance, Kurdish families might pay to send their children during school holidays to Kurdistan, where they could interact with other Kurds and, if they come from the Diaspora, also learn Kurdish. The education about heritage and culture could be invaluable: Older peshmerga who participated in the fight against Baathist rule might take older campers on mountain hikes and into villages to describe their experience; there could be no better understanding bestowed upon the younger generation.  Such camps might also provide a valuable resource for Kurds growing up in Diyarbakir, Qamishli, or Mahabad, where national governments might not otherwise provide outlets for children to learn about their identities or interact with Kurds across borders.

Not only national borders could be broken down. A series of camps in Duhok and Sulaymani might also provide opportunities for much needed social exchanges within Kurdistan. Fifteen years after the end of the Kurdish civil war, geography and politics still segregate children across Iraqi Kurdistan. Summer camps should not be party affairs; the political indoctrination that already occurs in schools is inappropriate, reminiscent of Baathism, and not something about which Kurds should be proud. Still, if unity remains an impediment to the realization of Kurdish aspiration, there can be no better reparation than allowing the youngest generation to spend weeks every summer together with children from other regions of Iraqi Kurdistan whom they might otherwise never meet.

KRG authorities focus on investment, but rapid development will not repair the wounds of the past. Nor should affluence mean that a new generation associates Kurdish culture only with cars and consumption. Traditions matter. It is time for Kurds to ponder how to repair the wounds inside Kurdistan and at the same time insure that future generations of Diapsora Kurds appreciate not only the history but also the experience of Kurdistan. Not all investment in the future should be about oil.

Copyright © 2012 Kurdistantribune.com

9 Responses to Kurdistan needs summer camps
  1. Ari Ali
    October 31, 2012 | 21:39

    Thanks MR for this ”brain storming ” article but its almost certain that it would fall on deaf ears because KRG is non existent . There are mafias in Kurdistan supported by american big brother .

    Am sure you have read this peace in the news : ”Italy arrests gang smuggled 1,500 Iraqi Kurds to Europe : oma: Italian police arrested a gang that trafficked 1,500 Iraqi Kurds for a price of $12.5 million to European countries. Europol said in a statement that three persons in Italy and five in Greece, in addition to another 50 persons, were apprehended for questioning in an operation that German and Greek police collaborated with……..” 1500 kurdish person smuggling themselves for 16 grands to any european country to claim asylum ! . In 2012 still kurds claim asylum !!!

  2. S
    November 1, 2012 | 00:41

    I would like to ask the KT, as well put-together as it is, why it has again asked the Zionist American Michael Rubin to write a load of drivel for it?

    Please stop siding with your enemies, KT. This is written in the Qur’an and Hadith, and history is testimony to it.

    The last thing the Kurdish people want or need is crocodile tears and faux concern from somebody who wants simply to stoke the flames, whip up a bit of Kurdish patriotic hysteria and watch everything blow up, all for the benefit of another entity which he actually holds dear to his heart: Isra-hell.

    KT, I would ask you publish this comment in the interests of an open and fair discussion. If not, then not only will I be disappointed, but I will also take it to be the beginning of the end of the KT by choosing to engage and publish the views of people who are worse enemies than its own worst enemies.

    Mr. Rubin, clear off and stick to Ha’aretz and maybe the JC. You are in no position to lecture about the Kurds and what the Kurds need. If they need anything, then at the bottom of that very long list is your name.

    • Editor
      November 1, 2012 | 09:28

      Despite any veiled threats, KT will continue to be an independent platform and to publish views from across the spectrum, especially from good writers with interesting, well-argued opinions – including our columnist Michael Rubin. If you don’t want to read such articles, ‘S’, please stop visiting our site.

      • P
        November 1, 2012 | 16:13

        Well said even if you dont agree with Rubin it doesn’t mean he’s to be silenced. By the way Anti-semitic comments should get banned, there is no room for islamist fascist. Islam is no friend to kurds, in fact islam has benn used and is still used today to suppress the kurdish people, so please go back to presstv where you belong.

    • Halmet
      November 3, 2012 | 09:30

      S, I’m pretty sure that you are not a Kurd.
      Can you forget about a person for a second and focus on the idea?
      I really don’t care about Mr. Rubin’s ethnic, religion or nationality. I only care for what he offers as a writer.
      Mr. Rubin is not the enemy of the Kurds and never killed a Kurd yet, he expresses his opinion and you have the right to disagree with him but don’t have the right to label him anything else.
      I personally thank Mr. Rubin for his tireless contribution to Kurdish cause as a writer and thank KT for publishing it.
      KT, please let the “freedom of speech” be alive and shine upon all Kurds
      Once again, thank you Mr. Rubin and KT for your efforts


  3. Suleiman
    November 1, 2012 | 20:07

    This site used to be exciting and informative, but it is slowly losing its effect as it is a courtyard for people to voice extreme views. What Mr Rubin just published is sound and much needed. How about we stick to that and leave the constant bashing of neighboring countries and creating hate for others, whoever they are. The Kurds won’t gain anything by hating Turks, Arabs, or by being antisemituc. I just wish there was objectivity with opinions. Michael Rubin needs to tune it down regarding Turkey as the new Kurdish generation is not interested in hating on enemies, rather getting closer to build new relationships.

    Finally, how about using the KT stage to build civic awareness with the Kurdish youth. The natural sentiment around here is: anti Turk, mad at the world, blame everything on the KRG, and attack Islam in direct or indirect ways. Why not try and build a positive environment. Build new youth which will eventually take over. A youth that is not influenced by rubins hate for the Turks, or an extremist Islamists hate for the Jew, nor one that likes to sit home and blames everything on others.

    We are sick and tired of reading about corruption, about what the Turks or Persians are doing.

    Dear KT, please reach out to unbiased intellectuals without agendas and let them publish realistic writing.

  4. Baqi
    November 1, 2012 | 21:54

    Mr. Suleiman,

    One thing that I will never agree with you is the misconception that Kurds are anti-Semitic, religious extremist or racist. The overwhelming majority of Kurds are peace-loving people. Besides every one reserves the right to voice his/her views freely. Be it for or against.

    What I strongly agree with you and personally entice, as well, is to utilize media outlets to mainly build civic awareness and that’s what KT has been precisely striving.

    • P
      November 2, 2012 | 07:45

      I might be naive and young but i certainly know how power works, in order to retain power oppression becomes ruler. in our case the persian. turks and arabs see us nothing more than obstacles in their way to hegemonic power in the region. We ought to be turkified, arabised and islamified in our enemy view, or else we are zionist agents, kafirs and terrorist who wants to break their colonial made borders.

  5. Ari Ali
    November 2, 2012 | 11:22

    Guys you better focus on the 1500 asylum seeker from masood and Jalal fiefdom and mafias . Why should they put their lives on danger and escape from the paradise . 1500 is the tip of iceberg. It is very suspicious when people shift focus of discussion to side issues . There is one enemy to kurdish people of iraq : Talabani and Barazani families full stop

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