The current online discourse among Kurds has become increasingly polarised — you’re either against the political institutions or in favour of them. There’s little room for genuine criticism, and transparency. It feels incredibly strange to write about issues facing Kurdish people because there exists a hoard of social media users who will readily antagonise those questioning the status quo.
If you’re trying to solve or question some of the issues facing Kurdistan Region, people will readily dismiss your thoughts collectively, usually citing the same grounds for dismissal — terror threat on the border, bigger social issues such as unpaid salary of civil servants.
Most importantly, it is the voices of women that are stifled unless they conform to the mainstream thought because people are not used to outspoken, bold and unapologetic women, but the they should get used to it.
Earlier today, I was reading through a commentary someone posted (in the Kurdish language). The individual highlighted some of the issues we are dealing with in Kurdistan region, and did not include his thoughts regarding these issues in English because he wanted to protect the region’s reputation.
It seemed strange to me. Kurdistan Region is not a child that we need to protect. On the contrary, it should serve as protection for its residents and citizens. It dawns on me that many are falsely led to believe that our silence amounts to protecting the region from the scorn of outsiders.
This attitude presumes that the international community, and its politicians are naive, unaware of the issues we face, which is not true. They have advisers with more historical information on the region’s relative history than our own archived libraries (and I say this with admiration).
If we want to enhance democracy and transparency in the region, we have to be vocal about the issues we face. The first step towards solving these problems — discussing them honestly, with no apology or fear. The second step, working towards establishing an accountable system where we can understand and explain the underlying reasons for societal problems.
Engaging with our communities and being open about the socio-political problems Kurdistan Region faces, is a healthy sign of integrated communities and democracy. Ignoring them in hope that the international community and media agencies are unaware will only undermine the attention given to the region.
When we ask, “Who speaks for Kurdish people?” Remember this, a single person can not represent over thirty-million people. Our homeland does not need protection from criticism, but from fear and silence.
The truth is, we do not need to belong to a political party or organisation when we speak about politics, and for those who pledge allegiance or support to political parties in Kurdistan region, they should not be blinded to the shortcomings of such parties. Blind allegiance acts as a pinnacle of our problems, and greater engagement with our socio-political problems, beyond ‘party-affiliated’ discourse is necessary to achieve much-needed change.