Lafayette Park, Washington, DC
March 21, 1999

Congressman Filner, our American Friends and fellow Kurds, I want to start by congratulating your 2609th Kurdish new year, Newroz, and welcome you to Washington, DC, as other speakers have done to this first gathering of its kind that has attracted friends from as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia, and San Diego, California. Let me also note that we have friends among you who have traveled from Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, New York, Maryland and Virginia and many other places as well. Let us give them a round of applause for their commitment to the Kurdish cause. May this Newroz year be a year of political awakening, Kurdish unity, freedom for Ocalan and Peace in Kurdistan. Newroz Pirozbe! Biji Kurd u Kurdistan!

I want to say a few words to acknowledge the organizers of this rally. Dr. Necmettin Karim, the President of Kurdish National Congress, has worked tirelessly and called many of you personally to attend this rally. Without his help, we would not have been able to get many of our southern friends here. Thank you Dr. Karim for your work, support and leadership.

Michael Beer, the Director of Nonviolence International, has also helped us with the banners, signs and the these lovely doves that you see among the sea of placards. With the help of Sam Husseini of Accuracy in the Media, he has guided us through the labyrinth called, Washington media. I am grateful to you Mr. Beer and I appreciate your support very much.

There are a few others who deserve my personal acknowledgment for their work in this rally. I want to thank Tara Welat of the American Kurdish Information Network and Hogir Serhad of the University of California Los Angeles. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us in this endeavor. I have very much appreciated their time, energy and creativity. Thank you Tara and thank you Hogir. Let us give all a round of hearty applause as well.

We are gathered here to reflect on our collective memory as a people, to think about our present predicament and to contemplate on its future. It may be viewed as a difficult time to be a Kurd. The faint-hearted among us may say enough is enough, we should raise the flag of surrender. Others may point fingers to the distant adversaries, such as our adopted host country, America or Turkey1s newest ally, the state of Israel. But we have news for faint-hearted Kurd and the gloating foe. This march for freedom and liberty will go on in spite of America, in spite of Israel and in spite of the world.

Newroz is the time to reflect on the glory of resistance to tyranny. It is also the time to measure ourselves up relative to our adversaries. For years now, we have been fighting to assert our identity, to claim our history and to live on our lands as Kurds willing to coexist with others but never accepting the yoke of others as slaves. Our oppressors may be strong, better connected and supported by the greedy in the world. But their love of oppression can never match our love of freedom. We declare to the world that we will live in liberty no matter what the cost. There is no power on earth that will deny us our birthright.

For now, the promised land remains beyond our reach. A place we could hang our hat, rest our souls and raise our kids freely as Kurds does not exist for us. Our adversaries are hard at work making alliances with people we hardly know to deny us a place in the sun. The laws of asylum honored in the midst of most ferocious wars have now been suspended. A Kurd can be arrested at will. The Greeks, the Kenyans, the Israelis and the Americans will help. There are deals to be made, money to be earned. The Kurds are good stepping stones. When you step on their leaders you see even more.

School kids in this country often ask each other, “Where were you when John Lennon was shot or when Lady Dianna and her lover met violent ends?” These are seminal events etched in the memory of one generation and then passed on to the next. One Kurdish event that has touched every living Kurd is the abduction of the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, from Kenya to Turkey. It was an hostile act towards the Kurdish nation. Those who took part in it, have earned the enmity of the Kurdish people.

Of course, we have had no quarrels with America and the Israeli participation at the behest of Turkey in the abduction of Ocalan is most unfortunate. Greatness can be only sustained when it is coupled with principle and Washington has failed miserably to deliver on that score. It is rather ironic that it has fallen on our shoulders, the Kurds, to remind this great nation of its lack of scruples and the dangers this poses to its very greatness. The Kurds have enough adversaries of their own; they do not need America nor Israel on that list.

Our adversaries are third rate powers ruled by dictators or quasi military cliques disguised as democracies. These no friends of their peoples have pitted their soldiers against the Kurds and the upshot has been death of Kurds and destruction in Kurdistan. Saddam and his cronies did not have the brains to develop biological and chemical weapons, but they had the hatred of an injured beast, the money from the Kurdish oil, and the greedy corporations who supplied him with the know-how to rain death on the Kurds.

Turkey, another pitiful country, with an identity crisis of its own has sacrificed the freedom of its people to deny us ours. Washington fools no one when it calls Turkey, a democracy. In democracies, languages are not banned, journalists are not jailed and toddlers are not tortured. Turkish people need liberation from tyranny as much as the Kurds do. The American government is helping the military who are ruling the country without the consent of the governed. The strongest guns have a way of becoming obsolete if the citizens are not accorded the most basic human rights. Iran was a good example of that. The challenge is to cultivate democracy. Left to its devices, Turkey too could take the road to the theocracy.

From these shores, the peoples of Turkey do not want helicopters and fighter planes that are sold or given, pro bono, to the Turkish armed forces. From these shores, we want lessons to end the Turkish style segregation, to heal the wounds of hatred, and to annul the onerous laws that have made living in Turkey a virtual hell for my generation of the Kurds. That is the true measurement of greatness. Supplying imbecile Turkish generals with deadly toys or training their officers on these shores or sending Turkey the United States special forces to train the Turkish commandos is not the way to democracy or stability or credibility of this country as a champion of human rights.

It is often noted that even the longest journeys one day come to an end and that the darkest nights give birth to bright dawns. The nightmare that has descended on us with the will of our adversaries and the tools of their so called friends will certainly come to an end. That day is a certainty as is the law of gravity. One day we will be free. One day we will be equals. One day we will take our place in the family of the nations. That is our promise to those who have died for the cause of freedom. That is our promise to our children. That is our promise to the next generation of the Kurds. Till we meet again,

Berxwedan Jiyane,

Biji Kurd u Kurdistan.

Azadi ji bo Ocalan u Asiti ji bo Kurdistan.

Thank you and zor spas.

Kani Xulam

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