SANTA ANA, CA – The Armenian Youth Federation Orange County, “Ashod Yergat” Chapter hosted a lecture on Kurdish issues featuring the director of the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) and Kurdish-American activist Kani Xulam at the Orange County Armenian Center on Sunday, March 9, 2008.
“I am honored to be a guest speaker for the Armenian Youth Federation of Orange County” said Xulam, “as a Kurd, I wanted to do my share to bring the two communities together. Our estrangement is new; our peaceful co-existence is historical. Our recent enmity was, unfortunately, imposed on us. As Kurds, we must acknowledge it. I was glad I got the chance to do so.”
As the director of AKIN, Mr. Xulam resides in Washington, DC, where he works to foster Kurdish-American understanding and friendship. His work was recently featured in the documentary “Good Kurds, Bad Kurds: No Friends but the Mountains.”
The lecture was comprised of three passages from talks given by Xulam in the United States Congress, Johns Hopkins University, and the Naples Council of World affairs, followed by a question and answer segment with the audience. Mr. Xulam’s lecture encompassed the current situation of Kurds in Turkey and the Middle East, the Kurdish peoples’ struggle to survive, as well as Kurdish-Armenian issues.
Kicking off his lecture, Mr. Xulam bowed to the crowd stating “eight years ago I appeared before my first primarily Armenian audience. The day marked the 84th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I was asked to offer a Kurdish perspective. I shared with the audience my thoughts on the difficult topic. But before doing so, I did what came naturally, and that was I bowed before the children of those who had met violent ends in the hands of the Turks, and unfortunately, some Kurds. Today I want to repeat the gesture.”
Highlighting the injustices committed towards the Kurdish people by the Turkish government, Mr. Xulam outlined numerous examples of Turkish aggression and acts of violence towards the Kurdish community. “They won’t let us count ourselves, speak our language, raise our own flag, issue our own coin, or call ourselves Kurds,” Mr. Xulam explained, “they hate us, and in turn are hated by us.”
Mr. Xulam further spoke about the Kurdish role in the killing of Armenians during the Armenian Genocide, “We were wrong to do the bidding of our masters who have now become our oppressors. We are not shy to ask for forgiveness. We hope the Turks will do the same. Hopefully, our children will have a brighter future than our grandfathers and grandmothers.”
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) has grown to become the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization; with chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world. Inspired by our past and motivated by the needs of the future, the AYF actively strives to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of all Armenian youth.