Feature art by Lana Barham
Hello. My name is Lana and I’m 22 years old. I live North of Iraq in Kurdistan, a region that has never experienced peace. We Kurds have never even experienced full human rights. I want to live in a peaceful environment, even for only a month. Since I can remember, Iraqi Kurdistan has been in economic crisis, political conflicts, and religious sectarian tensions. People in Iraq are still deprived of human rights and peace.
I continuously dream about the day my homeland of Kurdistan gains independence. This dream cannot be seen or achieved in the next seven generations if we walk the same path we walked before. We have to change and the change must cover all conflict and inhumanity. The current circumstance is detrimental because of the economic and political crisis, fighting The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and many other disagreements. When all these perish we can strive and work to have our own country with the help of the community.
Tragic events, such as the biochemical bombing of Halabja, the Kurdish genocide, applying Arabism to the Kurdish lands and villages and killing innocent civilians, the appearance of ISIS and their deluded understanding religion, killing and torturing innocent people, selling girls for less than $100 is reprehensible. It is hard to believe we are living in the 21st century.
If we gain peace, we can improve the lives of families, women, and children. There is a proverb that says when a human gets hungry, he first thinks of filling his stomach with food, then he thinks of a place to have a rest, in the end he thinks about longer-term dreams and wishes. As long as war, conflicts and crisis exist, humans focus on fulfilling immediate needs first and peace takes a back seat.
Conflict and suffering is happening in Middle Eastern societies in general and my region in particular. For that reason, I want everyone treat each other with respect and tolerance. If we can do this, human rights will follow.
I would like to encourage everyone—men, women, old, and young—to urge politicians not to fight, not to shed a drop of blood, and not to destroy the dreams of children. We must take a lesson from our past and do not have to keep our history talking about war and crises anymore.
Let’s work together for a better future by implementing peace. Let’s use our pens to write a future of happiness and peace, not just for ourselves but also for the next generation.