Washington Kurdish Institute
September 17, 2017
Washington D.C.- Hundreds of Kurdish-Americans and friends of Kurdistan participated in the “Washington Rally for Kurdistan Independence Referendum” near the National Mall. Organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government representation office to the United States and sponsored by Rudaw, Korek telecom, and The Kurdish Project, the rally united the Kurdish communities in the U.S. of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey under one slogan: “Freedom for Kurdistan.” Hundreds of Kurdish flags were flying, while live music and Kurdish dances were the highlight of the event. The purpose of the rally was to express support for the upcoming Independence Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25, 2017. The Kurdistan region in northern Iraq has long suffered under policies by Iraq’s government, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, military operations, and economic embargoes.
On June 7, 2017 the Kurdistan region decided to choose its fate whether to remain within a created state called Iraq after a century or to choose a different path that results in an independent state called Kurdistan. The upcoming Independence Referendum created a united front between the governments of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey threatening the Kurdish people of various actions including shutting the borders down and military invasions. The U.S. administration thinks the process of the referendum will distract the efforts to fight against ISIS. The U.K. share similar views to the U.S. Further, the British government does not acknowledge that the century-long Kurdish struggle was because of their agreement with France to divide Kurdistan in what is known as the Sykes-Picot agreement.
The rally participants shared their time between pro-chants for independence from Iraq and dancing to Kurdish music that often praised the Kurdish fighters fighting against terror groups such as ISIS or regimes that persecute Kurds. “Don’t leave our children in this world without a country. Vote “Yes” for Kurdistan independence,” read a sign posted by a large stage where Kurdish youth were holding flags of Kurdistan and dancing.
Among tens of flags waved by the people there was at least two flags of Israel. In the recent rallies of the referendum in Kurdistan and Europe, several Kurds were flying the Israeli flag. “[Israel] supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve a state of their own,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week. The repeated support for the Kurdish state from Israel made many Kurdish youth appreciate it by raising the Israeli flags on several occasions.
Amid threats against the Kurdistan region of Iraq, rallies continue in support of the referendum as the Kurdish leaders will only postpone the referendum if “guarantees and alternatives“ are given to them.
Washington Rally for Kurdistan Independence Referendum September 17, 2017 pic.twitter.com/trzJSkY8Qt
— Washington Kurd Inst (@wdckurd) September 18, 2017