Another tragic story

12/2/2019 5:42:29 PM

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Karwan Ibrahim
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Kurdistan is full of tragic stories. Each of them deserves films, documentaries, and books to explain to humanity what happened, but few have reached the ears of the world.

When I lived in southern India for two years, many times people would ask me where I was from. I would respond by inviting them to make a guess. Some said Israel; others said Kashmir or the US. When I responded that I was from Kurdistan, they were confused. Kurjistan? Kirkzstan? Where is that country? Many of them had never heard the name Kurdistan before.

Why have I related this? Although many have not heard of Kurdistan, our experiences nevertheless deserve to be told because the humanity that they display is universal and, once heard, will never be forgotten.

The latest catastrophic story happened on the night of November 29, 2019 in Kolajo in the Kurdistan Region’s Garmian administration, where the local commander of the Kurdish forces and two others were martyred by Islamic State (ISIS) sleeper cells.

Taken on its own, the attack was tragic, but this is compounded by the fact that the commander, Simko Ali, lost his entire family except for one brother in 1988 during the genocidal Anfal campaign. Led by Ali Hassan al-Majid, the Anfal was launched by the Iraqi Ba’athist regime against the Kurds during the final stages of the Iran–Iraq War, killing approximately 182,000 people.

Simko became a Peshmerga fighter when he was 14 years-old and played a role in the Kurdish uprising in 1991. He also served admirably as a commander during the fight against ISIS between 2014 and 2017 and was wounded three times in combat.

The entire world knows that the Kurds fought for humanity when they stood up to ISIS because it was a threat to everyone. Unfortunately, that fight is not over. Some parts of Garmian are on the border with the disputed areas, which are claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. This status has created a security vacuum and enabled ISIS sleeper cells to continue to operate, posing a distinct threat to the people living there.

Commander Simko never stopped defending the people until he was martyred with two of his friends. He left behind five children who, like him, will now grow up without a father. Simko’s relatives have blamed the local government for not arranging a larger mourning ceremony for him, saying that the officials of the Kurdistan Region did not respect him, either while he was alive or after he was martyred.

We cannot expect the world to hear the stories of our struggle and our humanity if we do not even tell them ourselves.


Karwan Ibrahim, is a senior news editor in Iraqi Kurdistan, and studied for his Master's in Communication and Journalism in India. He can be reached at karwantree@gmail.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NRT.