Clifton, New Jersey
March 17, 2001

Dear Friends and Fellow Kurds,

Please accept my apologies for not being with you tonight. As some of you know, I am taking part in an ongoing Vigil across from the Turkish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC. As I sit in this cold cell — we have named it, The Cell of Atonement for Turkey’s Political Crimes Against the Kurds — I think of your celebration and send you my warmest greetings to congratulate your Newroz. Newroz Pirozbe!

This is a night of joy. It was a day of hope. It is also a time to remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice to keep our name alive or secure a future of freedom for our kind. Kawa, Salahaddin Eyubi, Ahmede Xani, Seyx Ubeydullah, Celadet Bedirkhan, Seyx Mahmut Berzinci, Seyx Said, Seyit Riza, Mulla Mustafa Barzani, Muhammed Qazi, Abdurahman Kasemlou, Musa Anter, Mazlum Dogan and Zekiye Alkan are just a few of the many who have often met violent ends so that we could live free.

I bow before the memory of these immortal Kurdish souls and urge you to do the same. Up in heavens, I can almost hear them say, look at our children in a place called Clifton, they are celebrating Newroz. They are all there. Gundi u Karker, Xundawan u Niviskar, Mir u Xulam are present. Our children are awake. Our children are aware. And our children will win. Newroz Pirozbe.

Sleep well, Ape Musa. Sleep well, Muhammed Qazi. Sleep well, Xuska Zekiye. We will never forget your sacrifice. A free Newroz in Kurdistan is our promise to you as well as to our children.

People often say that those who do not honor their heroes should not expect to be remembered by their grand children. In our case, in addition to honoring those who died for our collective will, we have Kurdish leaders who have been wronged for speaking on our behalf and must honor while they are still alive. We are all aware of the machinations of our adversaries as well as some of their misguided friends who brand all activities on behalf of the Kurds as criminal. The biggest criminals are those who have dismembered our nation and pass as democracies. These cultivators of ill will with ill results will be disappointed, however. We Kurds will see to it that a rest in peace sign is raised over their sinister and abominable plans soon and forever.

Our ongoing vigil in the nation’s capitol has the intention of exposing these misguided policies of our enemies as well as cultivating the support of the people of good will across this land. For the past 12 days now, we have kept a 24 hours a day vigil at Sheridan Circle with placards bearing silent witness to the plight of duly elected but wrongly imprisoned Kurdish parliamentarians. This audience knows too well, these children of Kurdistan, Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan, and Selim Sadak.

These sons and daughter of Kurdistan are in jail because they wanted a better world for us Kurds. They forwent their comforts, braced themselves for bullets, bombs and worst of all insults to make it possible for our children to have free lives. They bore the name Kurd with pride but without meanness. They asserted the higher laws of humanity and violated the racist ones. Speaking for myself, I am proud to share a generation with them. I hope you feel the same.

Sharing a generation with them or feeling proud of them are in themselves not enough. We have to do our share to bring about their freedom. The cell we have is staffed with volunteers both Kurds and their friends. So far, we have had Kurds of New Jersey and New York take part in our vigil. We expect Kurds of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and California to follow suit.

This audience would be honored to know that we also have our American friends call us to make reservations to be in our cell. They want to do their share to bring about the freedom of Leyla Zana and her friends. A woman from Utah has reserved 48 hours for herself. Another one from Tennessee has pledged to do a 24 hours stint. A group of students from St. Cloud State University are making plans to attend our vigil and visit their representatives in the United States Congress to seek the release of Kurdish representatives. A Dutch woman is flying across an ocean to spend a night in our cell.

I am asking every one in this room to make an attempt to come to Washington, DC, to visit the cell. I will even be more blunt and say that if Americans can find the time to do some atoning in the cell to protest their country’s contribution to the misery of the Kurds, it would be wrong for Kurds to do less. A night of solidarity with the Kurdish leaders should be a duty of all Kurds. And politically astute Kurds and their friends should also attempt to visit their representatives before coming to Washington to urge them to support Representative Filner’s Kurdish resolution in the United States Congress and visit the participants of the vigil at the cell.

As free Kurds, this is our debt to our Kurdish representatives.

It is often said, the march of freedom is a long one. Our vigil too will be lengthy and most likely bloom into the summer and possibly fall. I hope to see you all there and again wish you a joyous and happy Newroz.

Thank you.