There was a time, arguably more prevalent in my childhood, when the term 'Kurds', 'Kurdish' and 'Kurdistan' was a crime in some countries, and subtly continues to be in some countries today. Every Kurd, albeit more prominent within first or second generation, knows the feeling of having to give a geography lesson with each person they meet, as very few people actually know where 'Kurdistan' is located or are aware of the pluralistic values of the Kurdish community. The Kurdish flag, language, and names were also forbidden, yet today, in the second decade of the 21st century, the forbidden race makes the front page of almost every western national newspaper in the world, including the Wall Street journal, as they fight one of the greatest threats the world has faced: ISIS/IS.
Flashbacking to my time on humanitarian missions in the region, I recall visiting the camps administrated by the United Nations and Barzani Foundation Charity, which provided sanctuary, relief and safety to all sects of Kurds and non-Kurds. The Kurdistan region was seen to be the hub of safety and pluralism that attracted the most vulnerable from around the world, be it for work purposes or for security reasons. As a Brit, I take the values of democracy, freedom of speech, women rights, human rights and safety extremely seriously.
Today, in the year of 2014, where our thinking has evolved to designing technology to visit Mars, a terrible virus has been unleashed in the Middle East bordering the Kurdistan Region,that is metastatic in its appearance and a threat to the biosphere. It goes by the name or brand of IS/ISIS. They are driven by an extreme mentality of hatred and lack of respect for human life, and have known to prey on ethnic minorities like Christians, Yezidi and Kurdish women and children as evidenced in the Kurdistan Region. The Kurds are vulnerable in the region, as they are forward-thinking, tolerant and forgiving, but have risen to combat this contaminable virus. The irony is that as this virus preys on women and children, with the hope of kidnapping, converting and enslaving these women they did not expect a reaction. The Kurdish community pride themselves on equality, and have their own, elite women forces, who continue to bravely defend the rights of those displaced.
Constant rapport with families and friends in the Kurdistan Region confirms that the community remains united and prepared for the virus and, no matter how young or elderly, are firm in their belief that they are their brothers and sisters keeper, regardless of faith, belief and sect against the deadly transmission. The children who have been separated from their families, families broken apart, and the women captured, raped and sold on, all hold hope that we, the international community, will speak up. We have a duty to speak up, speak out, and act quickly to prevent an increase of persecution in the region.
Families continue to go to the mountain tops and park their portable tea fountains against a set of rocks and light a fire, to drink whilst looking at the mountains and muttering proudly 'we have friends, this is 2014' - and quite rightly so. The Kurdish proverb 'we have no friends but the mountains' has proven that the Kurds do have friends, not only the diaspora but everyone who is against IS/ISIS.
Mercifully, 2014 has unlocked an antibody: the brave, united, pluralistic, Kurdish community and the bold international community are united against a deadly virus. However, we all have a duty as global citizens to stand up for the rights of those displaced, those women and children who had their rights violated, and the countless men slaughtered for their beliefs. Together, as one big family, we will make the world a better place for all generations.