IInterview with Gohdar Massom, a Kurdish Member of the Dutch Labour Party  ty 

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June 16, 2007 Interview with Gohdar Massom, a Kurdish Member of the Dutch Labour Party  

Kudishaspect.com - By Raz Jabary 

Gohdar Massom is originally from Southern Kurdistan. Since 1993 he lives in the Netherlands and he is now a high member of the Dutch Labour Party. In the recent Dutch elections for the Provincial Parliament in March 2007, Massom was chosen as member of the Provincial Parliament for the province of Northern Holland and he is the first ever Dutch citizen of Kurdish origin to achieve this.

1) To many people you might be unknown. Could you give us a short description about your biography and the current position you occupy in Dutch politics?

I was born in 1962 as the son of a Kurdish family which was deported to the middle part of Iraq. My father was an active member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). On average, our family was forced anually to leave to other cities or villages inside Iraq. This is why I have for instance done my six years of primary education in five schools in at least four cities. In all, I studied Civil Engineering at three Universities. During my second year of study at the University of Salahaddin in Hawler, I had a leading role in the student demonstration of May 1982. Saddam’s regime therefore sent me more than 500 miles south, to the University of Basrah. After my study I worked as a road/water engineer in infrastructural projects in Hawler city. It was in that period that I wrote many articles relating to History, Culture and City Planning Engineering. 

I have lived in the Netherlands since 1993. Here I did two Engeneering-related studies. At the moment I am studying for a Master degree in Public Administration at the Dutch school for Public Management (NSOB). I occupy a high management role within the Dutch Government and I am responsible for about 150 co-operators. In Dutch politics I am a member of the Provincial Council for the province of Northern Holland. I represent more than fifty thousand inhabitants of the province, of which the Dutch capital of Amsterdam is part of.

2) Is your goal to become a Dutch MP? If yes, would you consider establishing your own political party?

I would like to become a Dutch MP. However, I prefer membership of the European Parliament rather than the Dutch Parliament. This is because Europe is becoming more important and the influence of the EU on national member-states is increasing. In regards to foreign policy I expect Europe to play an at least as important role as the United States in the future.

I do not consider to start my own political party. Within the Dutch political parties there are already many possibilites to choose from and to work in favour of society.

June 2007, at the European Parliament Gohdar Massom is standing first from left in the middle row

3) You have recently launched an online campaign (http://kurd4all.nl/signature.php?lang=4) in which you call for investigation in the issue of Halabja by the Dutch government. What motivated you to do this and what is it intended for? 

In the 1980s Saddam Hussein’s regime killed tens of thousands of innocent Kurds in many brutal ways. Hereby, he used every means, among which forbidden chemical weapons. It was in this period when Iraq was in war with Iran. In this war against Khomeini Saddam Hussein received political, military and economic support from the United States and many other western countries like the Soviet Union. These countries provided Saddam with thousands of tons of chemicals for amongst others to be used in mustard gas and nerve gas. The chemical weapons were used against civilians and troops during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). 

On March 16th 1988, Saddam killed 5 000 Kurds in the town of Halabja with these chemicals in his campaign of destruction against them. This has been the most comprehensive chemical attack on a civil target ever. 

On May 9th 2007, the Dutch businessman Frans van Anraat was sentenced to 17 years in jail because of his complicity in war crimes by providing Iraq with chemicals. However, he has not been sentenced for complicity in genocide against the Kurds and has also not been approached to compensation to the victims of Saddam’s use of chemical weapons. There are many evidences that Frans van Anraat was being protected by the Dutch Intelligence and Security Agency (AIVD). The Netherlands were one of the main suppliers of chemicals to Iraq. In fact, roughly 35% of these chemicals to Iraq came from Holland. With the trial of Frans van Anraat, the file of Halabja can not be closed. Many people want to know who was the adviser of Frans van Anraat. This businessman has been sentenced, but the role of the Dutch government in this case of genocide has never been investigated and needs investigation as soon as possible. Some political parties within the Dutch Parliament want an investigation in the case of the military support from the Netherlands to Bush in the liberation war of 2003. We want an investigation of possible support from the Dutch government to the regime of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, amongst others in the development of illegal chemical weapons.

4) What can the Kurds learn from Europe?

The Kurds in Europe have to co-operate more and have to unite with the purpose of creating a strong lobby. This lobby has to implement European and international means to achieve peace and freedom in Kurdistan. The Kurds in Europe can bring over European values on democracy and human rights to Kurdistan. Next to that, Kurdistan can learn a lot from the knowledge and experience of Europe in matters relating to Social Infrastructure (Care, welfare, education and labour). The European Kurds have to play an intermediary role in this. 

5) From 23-30 April 2007 you were in Kurdistan to host the 2nd Kurdish Waterconference on the invitation of the governor of Duhok-province. This was broadcasted live on Kurdistan TV. How did the visit go and what experiences did you gain?

My visit to Kurdistan last April was succesfull. I gave a presentation in the opening of the 2nd Kurdistan Waterconference. Hereby, I proposed to establish a co-operation under the name “Kurdistan Water Partnership”. On request of the Ministry of Victims and Anfal I gave three lectures in the cities of Duhok, Sulaimani and Hawler respectively about the process of the trial of Frans van Anraat. I also met with several representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government, amongst which the chairman of the Kurdish Parliament, Kurdish MPs, the governors of Hawler and Duhok province and two Kurdish ministers.

6) As a member of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) you represent the labour society in the Netherlands. Are there any other, more specific societies like the Kurdish one or the non-Dutch society you represent?

The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) has three basic principals. These are Freedom, Equality and Solidarity. Solidarity does not only mean being soldairy with the ones who struggle in Dutch society, but also with the weaker ones in societies abroad. As a high member of the PvdA in Northern Holland I represent every inhabitant of the province, hence no specific group alone. In the Provincial Parliament of Northern Holland I am commission-chairman for roads, traffic, transport and harbours. Within this commission I work towards better reachability and mobility for everyone. I am also the vice-spokesman of the main Dutch airport of Schiphol. 

7) If you would get the chance to exchange roles with Dutch minister-president Balkenende, what would you do?

One day is too short to achieve results. In that case, I would like to get more time! I will get closer to the people and listen to them carefully. I want to make the gap between poor/rich and Dutch/non-Dutch ethnicities smaller and on foreign policy I would like to work on peace and co-operation for development.   

Thank you very much for the interview.

You are welcome. Thank you very much for your effort as a young journalist.

This interview was translated from Dutch to English by Raz Jabary.

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