Jiyan Means Life in Kurdish; In English, Death Will Do

Kani Xulam
The American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN)
http://www.kurdistan.org
June 30, 2003

I don‚t know if it ever happens to you, but it happens to me often, I am either listening to someone on the television or in a lecture hall -- granted that the person has piqued and kept my interest -- and then bingo, the person utters the name of an interesting book or movie, I rush to my pen and paper and jot down the information, and place it somewhere visible, like the corner of my yearly calendar by my desk in my office, till I get hold of the thing itself, to see for myself, if what I heard dovetails with what I read in the book or see in the film. It usually does. I read the book, An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser this way and I am very grateful for the tip. Jiyan is a Kurdish film by Jano Rosebiani, stop reading this right now, reach out to your pen, post it paper, write it out, J-I-Y-A-N, and place it somewhere visible in your office or study till you either see it in a movie theater or rent it out from a video outlet.

You will be glad you did, I would not joke with you in a public forum like this one otherwise, and after seeing it, you will thank me for it, but the person you should thank and that goes for all the children of Kurdistan and their friends, past, present and the future, is the struggling Kurdish artist who first worked as an usher in a movie theatre some 26 years ago, and after watching not thousands but tens of thousands of films, moved his Kurdish camera to produce a Kurdish film that at first sight dazzles you with its beauty and horror, joy and sorrow, soaring human spirit and depravity of the kind that makes you wonder if humans deserve to live on this earth, and all of it, in a span of 94 minutes; in short, all your senses, good and bad, are treated to a veritable feast with the culmination of, you guessed it, hope triumphing over despair, life blooming in moonscape, and Jiyan, the ten year old Kurdish girl whose last and parting shot in the film is her face with rivulets of tears flowing from her eyes, in slow motion, outlasting her nemesis Saddam Hussein, and slowly gravitating towards a future, very fragile for her, of hope, of light and of beauty. But you are never too far from the day, in her words, when „chemical rain‰ poured on her -- disfigured her -- and her loved ones -- killed many -- while the „civilized‰ world was in a state of stupor, oblivious to the danger that blighted her kind and her generation, because the dead were Kurds and the murderer was Saddam Hussein, the first did not matter, the second made the indifference of those who could have spoken on this crime against humanity look glorious by comparison, for, at least, they did not harm their citizens.

I would be lying to you if I said that the movie did not disturb me. The temperature of my anger reached a crisis point. My tears flowed when I sensed that Jiyan was about to shed hers, they started flowing again every time I heard -- I could not keep my eyes open -- the Kurdish flutist, a Kurdish mullah, the equivalent of a priest in the Christian faith, play for God, or was it for the sun, moon and the stars, I don‚t know, on a rooftop in all weather, for the loss of his eight children and wife. I don‚t know why, but I thought of Arundhati Roy -- the lighting rod of the antiwar movement, I proudly marched along her likes, by the way, with my quaint sign, „Down With Saddam Hussein; No War, prompting one protester to ask me if I was for the war or against it, and leaving my conversation with this deluded activist aside for a moment, and getting back to Ms. Roy again, who came to embody the feelings of, by her counts, ten million people who marched, worldwide, against the recent war -- and wished to God, she were watching it with me. Referring to George Bush, she had often said, „he is more dangerous than Saddam Hussein. If she had seen the film, I was convinced now, knowing that the film would cure her of her ignorance, about the darling of the deluded, Saddam Hussein, not that I was equating the president of the United States to the Mother Theresa of Calcutta, she would go down on her knees, I imagined, true scholars eat their words with grace, and apologize to Jiyan and her blighted generation for the misuse of her pulpit, she is on C-SPAN all the time, to lash out with her acidic tongue against two wrong doers, one, Saddam Hussein, in her diction, a man as dangerous as Al Capone, who in his „best selling‰, ghost written, novels equates all Kurds to adulterous, treacherous, and fickle creatures; and the other, George Bush, treated as a modern day Adolph Hitler, who used the Kurds, to be sure, as a prop for the war, but had a better appreciation of the man who had used chemical weapons once and could do so again, remember Hitler who had reminded his generals how the Turks got away with the Armenian genocide, unless he was stopped in his tracks.

But it looks like there is a feeling of remorse gripping both the Great Britain as well as the United States, not because war is organized crime let loose and as much as possible should be avoided, and if undertaken, the United Nations should be the institution to invoke it -- that boneless wonder that did not even acknowledge the Kurdish dead when they were gassed in broad daylight -- but because the weapons of mass destruction have, get your eyes ready for this, not been found. I have to assume that these peaceniks and the inadvertent supporters of Saddam Hussein have never heard of the Kurds and their 281 villages, towns, and cities which were indiscriminately gassed not just in one day, between the sunrise and sunset, but in a span of eighteen months, in the course of an operation called al Anfal, which for those of you who are versed in Islam, the name means, the spoils, and comes from a chapter heading in Quran. Imagine if you will, Ariel Sharon using chemical weapons on a Palestinian settlement, and christening his diabolical plan with an Orwellian name, like, say, „tikkun! To paraphrase Ms. Roy, I can almost hear the footsteps of ten million peace activists marching in the streets of major cities all over the world, all shouting in unison, „Never Again! It would be a sight out of this world, signifying the hypocrisy of our generation of peace activists, who are quick to condemn the wrongs of Israelis and Americans, but hardly can be bothered, when the unspeakable is committed in the name of Islam and by the likes of people like Saddam Hussein.

 

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