The Statement of Kani Xulam at 2615th Newroz Celebration
Cannon House Office Building (Room 345)
Washington, DC,
April 5, 2003

Newroz Pirozbe!  Happy Newroz!  Happy New Year!

May we celebrate the next one on the sacred soil of Kurdistan!

May it, unlike its mythical past and humble beginnings, now lost to our enemies, be our lot again and this time, last forever!

The Kurdish generation that will liberate Newroz from its prisoner-of-war status, will, no doubt, be called the greatest among all the children of Kurdistan, past, present and the future.  The glorious deed will not only free the Kurds, but also transform the Middle East for a second awakening as momentous as the invention of writing or as long lasting as the influence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  May the children of free Newroz, let us not lose the sight of hope, come from this room as well, and hold on to the sacred trust with their lives till the last of us is around.  That is our expectation of them.  It is also our solemn pledge to them that we will fight the enemies of Newroz, the adversaries of freedom, and the misguided worshipers of darkness, to make it easier for them.  It will be different to say Newroz Pirozbe then.  After the birth of the first Newroz, it will be our second most joyous moment in the history of our people.

Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge a few people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring us together here tonight.  They are the friends of our nation and its generous daughters and sons.  They have, in this time of war, put duty above watching television, responsibility before satisfying curiosity, and service at the center of their attention.  Kurdistan owes them a debt of gratitude that can never be forgotten.  Their deeds stand out and our appreciation is great, but something else is on our minds at this momentous time in the history of our people.  Our hearts are filled with anxiety for our loved ones in Iraqi Kurdistan, for our adopted country’s soldiers who may face the horrors of chemical and biological weapons in Baghdad, and the hapless Arab civilians who are caught in the crossfire.  While we join our brethren for a quick end to the tyranny of the regime in Baghdad, I want to come back to this hall and recognize our friends and our own for their service to Kurdistan.

There are two individuals in this room without whose help we could not have had this Newroz.  One is responsible for this most ornate of the rooms in the United States Congress, and the other has worked tirelessly to make sure our Newroz feast is a Kurdish one.  The first is a woman who entered our lives a mere two months ago.  The second is a friend I have known, on and off, for over ten years now.  The woman is kind, a characteristic of her sex, diligent, a habit that only yields to those who work hard at it, and smart, the only people, in my experience, who are hired to work as congressional aides.  My friend is a poet when he is not a chef.  He loves life, his children and his wife, nothing extraordinary about this, but Kurdistan, brings tears to his eyes.  I love them both and want you to recognize them.  Please join me in giving Tsoghig Margossian of Congressman Bob Filner and Ciya Muksi a hearty round of applause.

There are a number of other people in this hall that deserve my gratitude and your recognition.  First, I want to honor Ciya’s loyal team, his better half, Claire Ayhan, and their five children, Miranda, Cihan, David, Suheyla and Perihan.  Buffy Wicks, our American MC, is a friend of mine and I consider myself fortunate to have crossed paths with her.  She is smart, cheerful, compassionate, friendly, active, and altogether an amazing person that embodies the best of America.  Tijda, our Kurdish MC, is a dear friend, a lover of all things Kurdish, versatile, dedicated, and as you have seen some of his talent already, an amazing person in his own right.  Azad, Hawar, Dara, my intern Kelly Nau and, of course, Meghan Rasmussen, who sent you all the invitations as well as got us these lovely tulips that represent the colors of our flag, deserve our appreciation as well.  Please join me one more time to honor our friends and our own for their dedication to our common cause.

We are celebrating this Newroz in the shadow of a war.  We are in the news again, and, again, it is about our sufferings and abject condition.  Last February, we woke up the monstrous news that a sale had taken place over our heads and the future of Iraqi Kurdistan was exchanged for something called transit rights.  America, our adopted country, our ally in the eyes of the world, had acted as a seller; Turkey, the prison of world’s 20 million Kurds, our most implacable adversary, had acted as a buyer.  62.000 American troops were going to attack Baghdad from the north.  80.000 Turkish soldiers were going dismantle the Kurdish government in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The news of our bartering was nothing less than a potential assault and an insult on the Kurdish people no different than what the 19 hijackers did to the United States on the morning of September 11, 2001.  Cruel.  Heinous.  And shocking.  These are some of the things that we felt upon hearing the news.  Only an unexpected vote in the Turkish parliament threw a monkey wrench into this nefarious, blasphemous, and abominable plan.  That act of mercy, as we know it from our history, was not taken for our sake; it was done so because the Turkish parliament wanted, for a change, to respect the will of the majority Turks.

But we are also troubled with the lingering thought that there is no difference between those who approve of a plan and those who execute it.  Just because the plan did not go through, it does not mean that the ground under our feet has firmed up or the fate of our people has solidified.  We continue to brace ourselves for the worst and hope for better days for our kin and kith.  It is ironic that, those who are willing to sell us are also at work to punish those who have used chemical and biological weapons against us.  We find ourselves in agreement with the Bush Administration that Saddam Hussein is a menace to the world, but unlike Washington, we also view Turkey as an equally implacable foe of the Kurds.

There are some Kurds who are hopeful that America will shed the blood of its sons and daughters for the freedom of the Kurds.  They lack the sacred treasure of bravery and would like to have a free ride in this world.  They forget that 280 million Arabs and 40 million Turks mean more to Washington than five million Kurds of southern Kurdistan.  They fail to recognize that a far crueler execution is inflicted on the back of those who run away from their adversaries than those who confront them.  They dream of living in equality with their foes, but their foes only want them as slaves.  They fail to recognize that they are dealing with the children of their oppressors who refuse to unlearn the prejudices of their dads.

For every Kurd that daydreams about a liberation through someone else’s blood, thank God, we also have brave Kurds who work around the clock to redeem a nation, to free a people, and to restore a track of land known as Kurdistan to its rightful owners.  They are brave souls like Zekiye Alkan, a true believer from Amed, who entrusted herself to the flames of Newroz on the walls our famed city with the hopes that her sacrifice would light the fire of liberation in Kurdistan.  They are honest ones like Qazi Muhammed who put on the noose of hanging rope serenely so that he would not compromise his sacred oath to Kurdayeti.  They are dauntless spirits like Mulla Mustapha Barzani who was a legend when he fought and relied on the Kurds, but was fooled mercilessly when he placed his faith in our adopted country, America.

It is a dangerous world out there and our safety is no one’s concern.  Our land is viewed as a spoil of war and our misery gives happiness to others.  Arabs talk about our oil as if it is their fathers’ patrimony.  The Turks harness the Tigris and Euphrates for the good of their own children.  Even in this war, christened as an endeavor for freedom, the Americans speak of securing the oil fields of Kirkuk and Mosul, but not much is said about freeing the Kurds from the clutches of the dominant race, the Arabs.

But Middle East will not have peace with thieves dictating policy to the new power broker, America.  The history of modern Europe offers some telling lessons to those who are charting a new course for the Middle East from the White House.  Not long ago, a Frenchman and a German wanted to dominate Europe.  Both failed because both wanted domination at the expense smaller and weaker nations.  So far, the expressed plans and ideals of this country kindle our hopes and raise our aspirations, but the gap between the rhetoric and the deeds is also very disconcerting.  Europe was rescued from the clutches of authoritarianism and put on the path of peace, stability and prosperity with the application of self-determination principle.  Only the same will put the Middle East on the path of recovery to live in peace with itself as well as with the West.

We are the children of the soil that taught the western world what to read and how to write.  From our land, the humanity took baby steps in the fields of light towards humanities and sciences.  Our heroes, judges and prophets to this day command the attention of the world.  The magnanimous Saladin was one of us as was the poetic Ehmede Xani.  With freedom, we can start anew and can dazzle the world again.  This is the call of our fathers to us as it is the expectation of us of our children.  We have done it before; we can do it again.  Till we meet again,

Long live Newroz!  Long live Kurdistan!  Biji Newroz.  Biji Kurdistan.