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August 30, 2011

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Rebin Hardi: A Powerful Voice for Justice in Kurdistan

Kurdishaspect.com - By Rauf Naqishbendi

The Kurdish armed revolution, aimed at creating an autonomous Kurdish region within federated Iraq, commenced in 1961. Since then Iraq has gone through many coups d’état by different Arab governments, from the Ba’ath party to other Arab nationalists from the right and the left, all whom were against an independent Kurdish state and even an autonomous Kurdish region within federated Iraq. Kurds have suffered ominous destruction, blood baths, mass imprisonment, and then genocide as committed by Saddam. 

The Kurds endured this unbearable suffering with their eyes on the prize: the dawn of a new day when the historic opportunity comes forward to ring the bell of their independence. The American invasion was that opportunity, and the Kurds took it to their hearts as a remedy for their past and a promising future. In hindsight, it all happened in disorder as people found their dreamed inspiration for liberty and an independent Kurdistan turned into corrupted mentalities, abuse of power, and looting by their leaders. The people are now feeling sorrow as they have realized all their past excruciating suffering was in vain.

Since the American occupation of Iraq, 20% of Iraq’s total oil revenue has been appropriated to reconstruction and development of Kurdistan. That fund has been divvied equally between the two Kurdish leaders, Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President and the head of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish Democratic Party. A lust for power and ravenous appetite for money are two attributes of these shameless leaders. 

About two years ago Nawshirwan Mustafa, the second highest ranking PUK member, who divorced himself from PUK leadership, asserted that billions of dollars are unaccounted for. Surely that amount was siphoned into the two leaders’ coffers. These leaders have created an atmosphere of corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and favoritism. The people are disenchanted with this unbearable situation. Since last February 17, people have poured into the streets of one of the largest Kurdish cities, Sulaymaniyah, demonstrating and demanding political reform to establish social justice and bring about a civil society.

One hero of this movement is Rebin Hardi, 45 years old, whose name has resounded as a voice of justice. Thousands of disgruntled citizens joined his march for freedom, pressing for the end of corruption. Mr. Rebin is a descendant of Ahmad Hardi, one of the most popular poets in modern Kurdish history, and is known as a political figure in the Kurdish nationalism circle.

At the onset, Mr. Rebin, like many others, thought that these student demonstrations had been influenced by some regional power rooted in Kurdistan through some political organization. However, when the student demonstrations persisted, and it became clear to Mr. Rebin that these students were brave souls whose slogans were that of populous demand, he joined the students, and they received him cordially. 

The students were considering resorting to violent demonstrations should their peaceful march not to be responded to by authorities. Rebin gave daily talks to the congregated students outlining the agenda for the protestors and underscoring their main demands. Then, he persuaded the demonstrators to carry out their struggle in a nonviolent fashion to prevent tragic bloodshed. The students were not violent, and their anger couldn’t help them avenge the loss of thousands of lives as the price of the power struggle embarked upon by the two hideous Kurdish leaders, whose leadership has been responsible for a mere three decades of deplorable civil war in the past, and their corrupted sentiments, which at present have deprived people from their God-given rights as citizens. The feud of these students couldn’t have been moderated by anyone better than Rebin. He is truly a man for peace, and with his great power of persuasion, talent and gifted with communication skills, and humility, altogether helped him subdue the students’ anger and fuel their peaceful march for social, political, and economic reform.

Rebin understood his mission as an organizer of the Freedom March against the most disdained leadership in modern Kurdish history that we know of: Talabani, Barzani, and their cronies. He understood that the non-violent protests needed to be telegraphed to the entirety of Kurdistan and abroad. He eloquently expressed the aim of the Freedom March to TV stations and other media sources. Soon, just about all the news media, with exception of those sponsored by the authorities, initiated a campaign of coverage. Abroad, all the Kurdish websites devoted their headline news to the Freedom March with Rebin in the center of this glorious movement, as Rebin and the movement registered an unforgettable chapter of the Kurdish struggle against despotic leaders who have been named the present ruling authorities.

Benevolent characters in every social uprising have had to render sacrifices to the principles upon which they embarked. Rebin couldn’t find an easy exit of this simple fact, and he paid dearly for his honorable intention. For months he expected such an outcome, and he feared for his life, knowing how violent the authorities have been by killing and eliminating their opposition. As the thugs of the PUK and KDP found how far Rebin’s voice could travel and his efficacy in influencing the mass population, they were determined to bring their wrath upon him. 

At last, Rebin was arrested, but not in a legal proceeding whereby one has to be legally charged and brought to the court of justice for hearing, but instead by thugs who belonged to the authorities, who snatched him with several other activists on a street at gunpoint and forced them to jail where they were brutally tortured. No one knew his whereabouts. After his release, Rebin went to the opposition’s TV station with blackened eyes and bruised faced signifying his torture. He gave a full account to the people of their hours of torture. Rebin’s story outraged public opinion against the Kurdish leaders. This episode, along with the killing of fourteen demonstrators and mass journalist arrests, reminded the people of Saddam Hussein’s era and the two Kurdish leaders’ resemblance to Saddam, but with a singular anomaly: Although Saddam was an Arab, but Talabani and Barzani are Kurds.

Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for Kurdishaspect.com, American Chronicle, Kurdishmedia.com(2003-2011), ekur.net, ijknews.com and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times. His memoirs entitled "The Garden Of The Poets", recently published. It reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein. It is the story of his people´s suffering, and a sneak preview of their culture and history. Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

ISBN: 978-1-4626-0187-5 ( get The (Zoftcover) ($7.95) Link: http://www.publishamerica.net/product41368.html

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