What an intense weekend it was, with the grimness not leaving my face as I was following and investigating the death of five peshmerga fighters on Saturday morning. Besides the tragedy of the death of the five men in itself, the reactions and especially the emotions that were running extremely high, have affected me.
On Sunday evening, I felt tremendously sad, and I think I can explain why, and I wonder if others feel the same.
Nobody has to doubt the facts of what happened. It was the first news that broke early in the morning, namely that peshmerga had been killed in an airstrike. I tweeted cynically that probably the KDP would say the strike was the PKK’s fault just for being present in the mountains. The reality was more absurd than I could have made up though: it was not an airstrike anymore, it was suddenly an attack with a shoulder launched rocket, or with a tripod-launched missile.
It obviously wasn’t, and you don’t need that much information to draw that conclusion. I’ll keep it short, because I want to take you to my sadness. Look at the vehicle after the attack: does that look in any way like it was struck by something shot from a tripod or a shoulder, which would strike in some horizontal angle? Not to me. On Monday peshmerga commander Qadi Zoranî added his voice to the choir, saying it was a strike from above. He has quickly deleted his Facebook post again but it’s been seen, and reported on. It’s not new information, but a confirmation of what we knew already, coming from a source with an interest in covering up the truth so that makes his testinomy even more convincing.
But does the truth matter? Of course it does, but the absurd takes that reached me during the weekend have really made my jaw drop.
The most outrageous is that the PKK and Turkey are working together to destroy the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. As if there are not countless numbers of photos available of assorted Barzanis with Erdoğan and with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, and zero of Turkish state representatives with the PKK’s co-leaders Cemil Bayık and Bese Hozat.
The KDP openly and willingly cooperates with Turkey but it’s the PKK and Turkey that plot against the Kurdistan Region? How do these narratives enter Kurds’ brains? It’s propaganda, of course, but I have seen quite a lot of deep hatred for the PKK as well. Which is possible, surely, and it’s nothing new, but how can you get more angry at your fellow-Kurds from the PKK than at Turkey, a state that has been massacring Kurds since many decades and that is destroying your lands?
Why no deep, deep outrage when Turkey starts an offensive, kills civilians, occupies more and more territory and keeps your weak leaders in an economic and political chokehold? I have reported from the border regions myself and I know people are desperate and many say that Turkey and the PKK shouldn’t fight on their lands but in Turkey. But where is the PKK supposed to go? They are home in Kurdistan.
And that’s something else that I find painful: how the borders of the occupiers of Kurdistan have apparently become so internalized. There is only one Kurdistan, and it’s divided into four parts but the borders are not the Kurds’ borders. Kurdistan belongs to all the Kurds, and to other communities who live their and call it home. How can you say the PKK doesn’t belong in the mountains of Kurdistan?
Listening to these villagers, whose lives are under threat every single day and who are at risk of being displaced – and many villages have already been displaced – is important, but what the Kurdistan Region’s leadership could do and never does, is urge Turkey to solve the Kurdish issue via dialogue and negotiations. Wouldn’t that be mingling in Turkey’s internal affairs? No, it would not, it would be genuine care for Kurdish affairs.
Safe and dignified
I was contemplating about what made me so heavy, so sad, when I saw a tweet about the fire that raged through the Sharya refugee camp for Yezidi. It was from Murad Ismael, who said the Yezidis were deprived of a safe and dignified future.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe that counts for the Kurds as well. All the manipulations, murders, occupations of the states that want to annihilate Kurds, are robbing them of a safe and dignified future in a very profound way. They even manage to set up Kurds against each other, while a Kurdish people united would be so incredibly strong. Kurds are robbed of their right to life, even though their hearts keep beating.
Fréderike Geerdink is an independent journalist. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her weekly newsletter Expert Kurdistan.