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Diyari Kurdi: why I ran out in front of the Prime Minister’s convoy

Kurdish man, Diyari Kurdi writes to the British Prime Minister to explain why he ran out in front of his convoy a few days ago.

Dear Prime Minister,

A few days ago I ran out in front of your car, unintentionally causing your car to come to an abrupt halt and be shunted from behind.

I realise how serious my actions were and I’m sorry if you suffered any physical harm, I hope not.

I myself had to spend the night in a prison cell, which was not comfortable for a 59-year-old man with chronic back pain.

However, I believe I owe you an apology and an explanation for my motivation to do such a seemingly reckless thing.

In return Prime Minister, I hope you would do the courtesy of explaining something for me, too.

As I’m sure you are aware, the Kurds, numbering some 45,000,000 in the world have been the victims of a historical betrayal and denied their statehood.

They have been horrendously repressed over the last century and are suffering terribly at this particular moment at the hands of the Turkish government.

We believe Turkish President Erdogan, is trying to eradicate the Kurdish political demands for basic freedoms ahead of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty (1923) in 2023. The same treaty that your great grandfather Ali Kemal Bey was brutally killed whilst being prepared.

Tens of thousands of Kurds have been imprisoned in Turkey, including elected Mayors and MPs.

We have done everything as a community to draw the world’s attention to Turkey’s crimes against the Kurds. Sending letters, signing petitions, lobbying MPs and contacting journalists. Nothing seems to work and we remain an unheard, voiceless, stigmatised and sometimes even a criminalised community.

The other day, I simply wanted for you to hear my voice.

A few days ago, again, Turkey bombed 81 different sites in South Kurdistan, where I am from. It targeted a UNHCR monitored refugee camp where Kurdish refugees had fled from Turkey in the 1990s called Makhmour Camp.

It targeted the Yezidi town of Sengal, where Yezidi survivors of the ISIS atrocities have been trying to rebuild their lives.

In Syria, the Kurds have fought so bravely and sacrificed so much to defeat ISIS and yet when Turkey invaded Northern Syria to attack the Kurds in March 2018, you defended Turkey’s actions saying at the time that:

“Turkey has a right to want to keep its borders secure.”

This, despite the Kurds in N. Syria never once being a threat to Turkey’s borders.

The Kurds have always wanted a peaceful settlement to the Kurdish issue.

This really upset us and felt like a stab in the back. Over 11,000+ of our young people have died fighting Daesh/ISIS so your streets can be safe and to defend our very existence. (8 brave young British people died fighting alongside our forces too, of which we are very proud.)

Last year, in Oct, 14 civilians and 3 journalists were killed in a suspected drone attack on a peace convoy near the town of Ras al-Ain in N. Syria during Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Rojava, they were allied with jihadist terror groups.

Airstrikes were crucial in Turkey’s deadly assault which led to allegations of war crimes, extra-judicial executions and the displacement of more than 300,000 mainly Kurdish people.

On the same day that I leapt in front of your car, the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign received an answer to a Parliamentary question posed by Kate Osamor

MP, from your government which confirmed that you are exporting drone parts from the company, EDO MBM Technology Ltd, based in Brighton, for use by the Turkish military. We know you continue to sell many weapons to Turkey.

I concluded therefore that you, Prime Minister, as Head of the UK Government, are complicit in the attempted genocide of my people, the Kurds.

Innocent people are being killed and the UK is complicit.

Whilst you and your nation tuck your children up into bed at night to the sounds of birdsong, our children are hearing the sound of bombs, wondering and fearful as to whether they are going to be the next to be hit.

Whilst you and your nation are in comfortable, safe homes, ours are living in refugee camps, in political limbo, fearful that they may lose another child, sibling or parent to the senseless and inhumane actions of the Turkish government.

We are not asking for much, just a safe environment for our children and our people.

The Kurds fought and defeated the world’s most dangerous terrorists, ISIS, for you and we have given the world so much. Now we are tired. Like my own tired body I threw in front of your convoy.

The Kurds are tired of being used when you need us, but our lives are seemingly dispensable when you might get a better financial return from the Turks.

This is dishonourable. How can you maintain a shred of dignity by doing this to us?

Your great grandfather, Ali Kemal Bey was persecuted and ultimately hung on a tree by nationalist Turks during the negotiations for the Lausanne Treaty 1923.

He was a man of tremendous dignity and honour and passionately opposed the genocidal operations against the Armenians that ultimately cost him is life. He opposed Mustafa Kemal Ataturk whom along with Ismet Inönü went on to devise and implement similar policies towards the Kurds.

I believe that if your grandfather was alive today, he would be defending the Kurds with equal passion and measure.

You are now the Prime Minister of a great country that is home to nearly 50,000 Kurdish people who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of Turkey, Syria & Iraq’s war against us, just like me.

I am not just the man who jumped in front of your car.

I am a Kurdish man, a husband and father- just like you, who is asking you to stop turning your back on the Kurds.

There is deep-seated racial prejudice against the Kurds because they have consistently refused to give up their Kurdish identity under Kemal Ataturk’s anti-Kurdish, forced assimilation policies.

The Turkish state has criminalised our very identity and labelled us terrorists for wanting to keep our language, identity and culture. As a proud, patriotic Brit can you imagine being put into a similar situation and how you would feel if your national identity was suppressed through no fault of your own?

The Kurds are a proud people and it is simplistic to expect any nation – with or without a state – to give up their identity, culture and language.

Though the Turkish state makes claim to the fact they have given limited rights to the Kurdish people within Turkey, in fact, it has been the PKK who has tirelessly fought for these (limited) rights.

The highest court in Belgium, after hearing all of the legal arguments regarding the labelling of the PKK as terrorists threw out Turkey’s case and labelled their arguments as cheap propaganda.

The court ruled to remove PKK from the list of proscribed organisations. I implore you to do the same.

Dear Prime Minister, I have explained my actions to you.

Perhaps you would have the courtesy to explain your government’s policies in regards these matters.

To summarise, my questions and requests are:

• Why do you continue to sell weapons to Turkey despite
knowing they are used against the Kurds?

• Why is your government criminalising the Kurdish people
in the UK for simply demanding their rights?

• Please don’t turn a blind eye away from Turkey’s ongoing
crimes against the Kurdish people.

• Please use your offices to urge restraint and promote
a peaceful and political settlement to the Kurdish issue.

• Please follow in the footsteps of a previous UK Prime
Minister, John Major, who created a safe haven for us in
South Kurdistan (North Iraq) and do the same in Northern
Syria for the Kurds.

• Remember that the Kurds helped you to defeat ISIS and in
return, please don’t allow this to keep happening to us.

• Please honour the memory of your own great grandfather
Ali Kemal Bey who was set upon by a Turkish nationalist
mob and brutally killed for defending the rights of the
Armenians.

I believe that you have a historic responsibility: Turkey is a growing threat to not just to the Kurds but to the EU, NATO and the world. Kurds would be grateful and loyal if you did the right thing.

May I conclude by apologising once again for the unfortunate accident the other day, and sincerely hope you were not injured but I’m sure you will agree there are much bigger issues at play.

I look forward to hearing your response.

Yours faithfully,

Diyari Kurdi

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