Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Good Kurd, Bad Kurds" Screened

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Good Kurd, Bad Kurds" Screened

Article excerpt

"Good Kurd, Bad Kurds" Screened

The film "Good Kurds, Bad Kurds" was screened at American University in Washington, DC, on Oct. 20 by the American University Foreign Policy Association and the United Nations Association- National Capital Area' (UNA-NCA) Young Professionals for International Cooperation-Middle East Committee.

"Good Kurds, Bad Kurds" documents director and free-lance journalist Kevin McKiernan's struggle to bring the often unheard of story of Kurds in Turkey to U.S. and international attention. While in Iraq covering the aftermath of the U.S. bombing of Iraq in the early 1990s and the atrocities, including the gassing of Kurdish villages and the executions of male Kurds, which had been happening throughout the 1980s, McKiernan learned of the resistance movements by the Turkish Kurds. It was a story not being covered in the mainstream American media.

The film's title is a result of a discovery that McKiernan made about the Middle East: Foreign policy and borders play a huge role in how the U.S. has dealt and continues to deal with the Kurdish struggle for political, cultural and national rights.

It was the U.S. government, in fact, which coined the term "Good Kurd" for the Kurds in Iraq, who helped the U.S. in its battle against Saddam Hussain's regime. The term "Bad Kurd" was applied to Kurds in Turkey, specifically for members of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), armed resistance movement.

Washington did not want Turkey, its strategic ally, to look bad. By applying the "Bad Kurds" label to the Kurds in Turkey, the U.S. was able to absolve itself from getting involved or criticizing Turkey. The U.S. reasoned that Ankara was doing what it had to do, and the fact that Turkey was using American-supplied arms to do so was not seen as a problem.

The film also follows the Xulam family, a Kurdish family McKiernan met in California, and footage of family members helps the audience put a "face" on the Kurdish struggle. Through the family, McKiernan met Kani Xulam, director of the Kurdish American Information Network in Washington, DC, and followed him as he singlehandedly lobbied the U.S. Congress on behalf of Kurds.

The screening was followed by a question-and-answer period with Kani Xulam, who made several key points. …

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