Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When young Kurds celebrate....

Dancing to say: 'Bye Bye Chemical Ali'

25th January, 2010 is another day in my diary that has pages and pages of writing, despite the fact that it is incredibly difficult to express the emotions. Simply, ‘Chemical Ali’ was given his death sentence for the crimes against the Kurdish people.

I hear so often people saying young Kurds are not attached as much to their roots and their Kurdish identity. This is not the reality. The atmosphere at Uni today was one filled with serenity and fulfillment. Exams are around the corner, deadlines are approaching and final papers must be handed it. Despite this, the students took the initiatives upon themselves to celebrate the ‘UKHian’ way.

Patriotic songs were put on the loud speaker all day in the cafeteria. And between classes hand in hand shoulders shimmered, feet danced and the noises of happiness were made (Kurdish readers: I am referring to Halhala—our guys know how to do it well!!)

Girls, boys, old and young danced. Everywhere I looked I saw people smiling, girls laughing, boys dressed to impress and pictures were taken (I know years down the road, these pictures will be shown to our children, as we remind them of history—and say “this was the day after Chemical Ali got his punishment”) .
Students who I had never noticed before were in Kurdish clothes or wearing a Kurdish symbols including flags, bracelets, and the ‘Jamadani’ which was around the neck of many girls.

Young people were celebrating a phenomenal event where, the punishment of the guilty hands behind the cleansing and genocide against Kurdish people took place. The event was symbolic, as from this day forward, Kurds know they cannot be hurt or by anyone because of their Kurdish identity.

What makes the event so close to my heart in particular is the fact that I visited Halabja various times and the images have remained in my mind. I walked on the roads that innocent children died on. Sitting by the cemetery, the emotions and thoughts that provoke out of one’s mind is sorrowful.

Despite the celebration, the wound is still deep. Despite the smiles, the tears are still there. Despite the songs, our woes are still loud.

Young people will remember the innocent blood of the young children, the old fathers and the mothers of every household. And it makes me smile and be confident for the future of Kurdistan when I see young people so attached and devoted to their nation.
I am proud to be living a day like today.

Above: A lasting picture that will hold deep memories for years to come.

Univeristy of Kurdistan- Hawler students, celebration for the execution of 'Chemical Ali'

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Kurdish Yapragh (Dolma)

Above: The guys in our department trying to get the first taste

If you are well acquainted to the Kurdish culture you would know that there is nothing that makes Kurds happier than a large pot of Yapragh (otherwise known as Dolma) or Bryani.

When exam season arrives, students become stressed and essays and assignments seem to be never ending what makes a group of Politics Students smile?! Food—not just any food, we are after all talking about Yapragh!!

I must admit even for less than an hour sitting on the grass around a bunch of newspapers and a large plate of mouthwatering Yapragh with discussion and jokes with colleagues is one of those times where memories are everlasting.
Large get togethers are a vital component that keeps the Kurdish culture vibrant and alive.

In large family outings or in celebrations such as Newroz usually the women begin the big grocery shopping the night before, and wake up early the next morning to prepare the dish and place it on the stove until they leave the house when it is wrapped in towls and cloth to keep it warm for the hungry tummies. The mixture is wrapped in vine leaves or other vegetables. most of the time and is made differently in each household. No matter how it is made Yapragh among Kurds is a respected dish nad must be tried if you ever visit the region.

Above: Kak Aso helps bring the heavy pot to the Uni garden

(pictures- Thanks to S. Ibrahim for the Yapragh made for our colleagues in a time when we were all worn out and stressed.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet Haji Salaha Rash

Above: Salaha Rash and group of friends who dig graves for free in their spare time, just to help the local community.

I was at the Globe newspaper last week, and met with reporters and journalists who work for the same paper. One of them had a very interesting story that I wanted to share with those who read my blog.

Not long ago I wrote a piece about Mam Najat who looks after mentally insane people voluntarily, now meet our new friend Haji Salah (56 years-old) who in his spare time along with his group of friends dig graves to help families who have just lost their loves ones.

Haji Salah does not mind whether you are Muslim or Christian, he does not mind if its early morning or late at night, he is ready to leave his family at home and voluntarily help people in their darkest and most stressful hours... (I must emphasize this is all for FREE).

For eight years now, Haji Salah (or as locally know- Salaha Rash) and his team of male friends have been digging graves. They have all the basic equipment they need. One must not forget that some families are confronted with financial difficulties as the mourning ceremony for the passed away loved one may cost a large sum of money-- to have the grave dug for free helps them, even though in a small way.

Salaha Rash

There are many Kurds who do a lot of good for their community, but not much light is shed on them. I was introduced to a person last week who gives his spare time to a group of children on a busy street, during school hours he helps children cross the road. Simple things, that make great differences. All these depict one important picture about Kurdish people- they are ready to help at any cost.

Meanwhile, Haji Salaha Rash, wants eveyone to know his phone number, so they can call him when ever they need a grave to be dug for free...

* Please note: All pictures were taken by a reporter/ Journalist in Kurdish Globe Q. Khidir