On Referendum or an Independent Kurdish State

By Rauf Naqishbendi:

Originally Published October 27, 2003

Rauf Naqishbendi’s address to the Kurdish community in North California. The gathering was sponsored by the Kurdish National Congress Of North America and Kurdish Relief Aid.

We have gathered today to discuss the future of our people. In light of the recent U.S. occupation, and the disturbing developments that have evolved as a result of this occupation, we have much cause for concern.

With the toppling of Saddam Hussein came a fresh chance for our people to pursue freedom and liberty, an opportunity to shake off the yoke of oppression that has seized us in its grip for centuries. Our presence here today to openly and boldly discuss our right to sovereignty will shake the foundation of the occupiers and force them to listen to our national demand.

Our demand is loud and clear: We as a nation shall be free and independent. Our right to independence is a mandate, not a choice, and as such allows no compromise. This proclamation of our right to freedom is not made as a meek or hesitant request. Rather, it is a demand issuing from the inspiration of our most deeply imbedded dream.

The dehumanizing injustice of occupation was forced upon us. Never have we accepted it as just. We have endured much suffering because of occupation. I tell you, my friends, the time has come to demand from the occupiers to recognize our human rights and dismantle the shackle of bondage their borders create. To this end, we must push forward a referendum for an independent Kurdish state. When we exercise a democratic process expressing the will of our people, the U.S. will have little choice but to acknowledge the legitimacy of our demand.

After a majority of our people has ratified a referendum, dislocated Kurds will return to their homeland. Our people must reclaim their confiscated property. Furthermore, non-Kurds who were encouraged to settle in Kurdistan during the campaign of Arabization must return to their respective homelands.

This intolerable situation is the direct result of a long and shameful history of subjugation and subordination to other nations. The borders and alliances established by arrogant, ignorant political leaders have reduced us to something less than slaves. We stand now, as a united front, demanding to bring this atrocity to an end.

However, the past will not be erased by a continuation of hatred and bigotry. Only forgiveness and compassion can pave the way for a peaceful future. A love of harmony, not violence, is the very essence of being a Kurd. I refuse to allow the ignorance and bigotry of despots to rob me of my heritage as the proud son of a loving nation. I understand that some people think it is wise to maintain the status quo. My response to them is to inquire if they wish to see the calamities of Halabja and Anfal repeated. The modern atrocities and systematic genocide represented by these examples were committed against us by the same occupiers that we address with our demands today.

My search for justice includes all concerned, Iraqi Arab and Kurd alike. Insisting on maintaining Iraq as one insane republic harms everyone. Our unnaturally enforced union as a merged nation creates animosity, while our separation into autonomous nations would foster a peaceful intimacy. The erroneously engineered republic of Iraq is a blunder of history. The existence of the republic of Iraq is not a solution to the ills that plague the Iraqi people; rather it creates chaos that worsens the deplorable conditions in which the people live. This republic can never be democratic because it is predicated on an unworkable social contract. Its continued existence can only signal impending tragedies.

Some may claim federalism can satisfy the Kurdish national ambition. This notion is mistaken. The democratic system that would result from an Iraqi federation would place Kurds at a continual disadvantage. We would be a minority in a majority rule system. The ruling majority would nullify our demands for legislative reform. The formation of a political federation would only result in our further subjugation to the will of others. Federalism is not a beacon leading us to freedom; it is instead a vehicle designed to transport us back to the dark days of the past.

In all matters concerning our sovereignty, the name Turkey resounds as a reviled obstacle. Some claim that we will never be free as long as the Turks stand in our way. I implore you all to realize that the Turks will always stand in our way and we must be determined to overcome them. With absolute determination we can insist, using nonviolent methods that the Turks be defeated in their effort to subdue and slaughter our people. The United States has at its disposal the means to accomplish this. The assistance the U.S. has given the Turks has given them strength to viciously attack the Kurds. The U.S. has turned a blind eye on the atrocities the Turks have committed against our human rights. Therefore, we must stand and hold the United States government accountable for these policies.

Without the enormous flow of U. S. economic aid into Turkey, it would be in worse economic condition than Afghanistan. Since the late 1980s, the U.S. has secured 465 billion dollars of guaranteed loans to Turkey. This explains the economic prosperity the Turks have enjoyed. The U.S. must begin to honor the Kurd’s God-given human rights. Until the U.S. forces the Turks to stop committing atrocities against our people, it is acting in violation of all of God’s principles.

One might ask how we would be able to secure our borders when we are an independent nation. My respond to them is: the U.S. has established a tradition of providing protection for many nations in the region. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar all look to the U.S. for protection. Given our history with the U.S., I think our nation has a right to request that this protection be extended to us as well. We can pay a similar fee for these services as is paid by the other nations.

My friends, we of the Kurdish nation are the largest group in the world to be denied national recognition. The vast regions of Kurdistan have become an enormous prison because of the artificial borders imposed like iron walls. The time has come to correct the wrongs of history. We are entitled to be self-determined.
The journey to our promised land an independent Kurdistan-is not free of difficulties. But no amount or degree of difficulties can withstand the united will of our people. Through our determination, we will rise above all the odds against us and place our country’s name on the world map. The Kurdish fl ag will one day fly and glorify our nation as we wave goodbye to occupation.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a proclamation of truth and the testament of our people.

Rauf Naqishbendi has been a contributing columnist for: Kurdishmedia.com(2003 – 2011), kurdistantribune.com,  ekurd.net, and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times.

Books by Naqishbendi:

  1. His memoirs entitled “The Garden Of The Poets”. It reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown, Halabja with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein.  It is the story of his people’s suffering, and a sneak preview of their culture and history.


  1. My Articles: This is a collection of columns published from 2002-2013 through several web media sites. It addresses Kurdish issues,  American politics and democracy, humanities, religion, terrorism, and Middle East chaos. 


Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Comments are welcome at rxa12@yahoo.com

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