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Dasko Shirwani

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Kurdish Oral History Project
Interview with: Dasko Shirwani
Interviewed by: Erdem Ilter
Transcriber: Marwan Tawfiq
Date of interview: 21 February 2013
Interview Setting: Binghamton University
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(Start of Interview)

0:07
EI: Start with your name and surname.

0:10
DS: Well, my name is, my name is Dasko Shirwani. I am originally Kurd from uh Iraq, and came to the United States in ̶

0:20
EI: You were born in Iraq, right?

0:22
DS: I was born in Iraq, never got an Iraqi citizen ship, [laughter] but it is okay.

0:27
EI: When were you born?

0:28
DS: In 1956.

0:31
EI: 1956 my dad has the same age.

0:33
DS: Really? 1956

0:34
EI: Yeah, and you are Kurd?

0:35
DS: Right I am a Kurd and uh–

0:36
EI: Sunni Kurd, right?

0:37
DS: Yes, Sunni Kurd. Majority of the Kurds from Iraq they are Sunni, and the majority they are Shafi’y–

0:48
EI: Yeah.

0:48
DS: The majority of the Kurds are Shafi’y, we have some Shiite in Iraq most of them are in Kirkuk area, southern Kirkuk like Khanaqeen, Mandali and those areas. Those two districts.

1:10
EI: Right. So, tell me about your family, your father, your childhood like where you born, how was, do you remember anything.

1:24
DS: I do remember [laughter] well the first thing I remember, we never lived in our village for our area because we always uh–

1:33
EI: You said what, Duhok or?

1:34
DS: No, north of Erbil–

1:35
EI: Erbil, okay.

1:36
DS: North of Erbil, uh district of Barzan.

1:47
EI: Okay.

1:47
DS: Since forties, or thirties after Barazni’s revolution my parent and my grandpa they were with Barzani at that time–

1:52
EI: What was the time?

1:54
DS: Forties and thirties, the first revolution of Barzani was in 1931.

1:57
EI: 1931?

1:58
DS: Right.

1:59
EI: Barzani’s dad right, Muhammed Barzani?

2:04
DS: No, well the first one it was 1918 an the second one was 1931 his older brother after British came and the Barzani’s first revolution started–

2:19
EI: 1931.

2:19
DS: Right, and since then our family never lived our area, we always moved from one place to another place.

2:26
EI: So, you were part of the Barzani’s tribe?

2:30
DS: Tribe yeah.

2:31
EI: His extended family, right?

2:33
DS: No, not his extended family, just tribe, because Barzani is not a tribe really. It is an ideology.

2:39
EI: Oh, I do not know that.

2:41
DS: Yes, Barzani is you know people think Barzani is a tribe, Barzani is not a tribe.

2:45
EI: As I know they are like a big family.

2:48
DS: No, it is not Ashira really Barzani, the family is lately big but it used to be just– and the thing about Barzani–

2:57
EI: He is now National Kurdish leader–

2:59
DS: But still before that it was.

3:01
EI: He has this character but–

3:02
DS: But Barzani was never a tribe and a lot of people make a mistake– Barzani is not a tribe, and Barzan is nine tribe they all belong to Barzan ideology which is equal right for everybody, everybody on their land and there is no landlord, and in Barzan we do not have a landlord.

3:25
EI: Okay.

3:25
DS: After British was trying to make it like all the land give it to Barzani, they did in some other places in Iraq. So Barzani family he said no, I do not believe in the land should belong to people whoever and they made some rules which is acting even in the United States still have not got to that kinds of rule, one. It was you own your own land, it was no landlord, second; woman, about the woman, the girl choose the husband, not the boy choose the woman, so you have to be loved before the marriage, you cannot force your daughter in the Barzan area to marry to anybody.

4:06
EI: Oh okay.

4:06
DS: First the girl has to prove it say I want this person, and then they, there is kind of election. The Mukhtar, and this is how do it, they choose the person to run the villages and then brought all the tribes and pick up like I say nine different tribes they pick up each village some brave man to join if in case in the area attacked that was used to be to defend the area.

4:38
EI: So, like when you were born during 1960s and your childhood is in 1960s–

4:44
DS: Well, it was a nightmare, what we the first–

4:49
EI: How was the village life or the city life?

4:53
DS: Well the city life, it was no city life. The village life because the first thing I remember the airplane came, I never saw a civilian airplane until 1976, (19)77 actually when I came to the United States. That is the time I saw, every time I saw, and if you looked the Kurd, it has to come from Iraq and from Turkey but as soon as they see plane they always look–

5:25
EI: Yeah, I mean I remember my childhood.

5:27
DS: Because you look at it, when they going to become start bombing them, [laughter] and we did every morning like three in the morning we move up from the village because we know the plane is going to come bomb the village.

5:40
EI: So, like there was always threat like that?

5:43
DS: Always. From sixties, since I come to the United States in 1977. So, sometimes they made a peace agreement for few years from 1970 to 1974, that was the only time–

6:00
EI: Okay, you said peace agreement like was there institutional power in Kurdish region.

6:08
DS: Right, they made the peace agreement and there was supposed to be autonomy, semi autonomy but even though there was no airplane but I mean the military, it was good some time and sometime it depend which area you go.

6:24
EI: Okay.

6:24
DS: Like at then I went to Erbil a couple of times but sometime the police stopped you for no reason. say give me your ID, they look for an excuse to put you in jail.

6:45
EI: So, did you to school there? Or in Erbil.

6:51
DS: No, I went to, we had elementary school in our village, and I went to General Barzani’s children school–

7:01
EI: Was there school like that?

7:02
DS: Yes, it was, Barzani was very curious about the school.

7:07
EI: Okay.

7:07
DS: So, if most time some young people leave the school they say we going to join revolution. He says no, go back study your study because when we get our independence we need engineer, we need historian, we need doctors, if you do not study we have to get it from other place, so he pushed people and even some time one person had to teach three different, four different classes.

7:33
EI: How was the Education there?

7:35
DS: Actually, the revolution time was better right now.

7:38
EI: Yeah. Was it in Kurdish or Arabic?

7:40
DS: It was in Kurdish.

7:42
EI: Even that time?

7:43
DS: Even then it was in Kurdish. We had, our teacher did had to come translate everything ̶

7:47
EI: How many school were like that?

7:49
DS: All over, all of them in the revolution we study one Arabic course but because I never like it, why we had to study Arabic, they come kill the United States why we study this. You know I did a mistake I wish studied Arabic language but I did not because I hated it.

8:05
EI: It was the opposition.

8:07
DS: It was the opposition and you know you are a kid, every day you had to wake up and the airplanes coming bombing you, and you know. That is why we hated them, the Arabic language.

8:19
EI: So how about the family? Like your father he was part of the revolution?

8:21
DS: He was part of the revolution, he was Peshmerga.

8:24
EI: Yeah, so how the life for him? Do you remember?

8:28
DS: The life was– actually he was never home most time, [mumbles] he was never home most time.

8:41
EI: yeah, actually just want to–

8:42
DS: He was never home that much. He go from one place to another place and I was the oldest of the family so I had to–

8:51
EI: So how many?

8:52
DS: It was eleven.

8:54
EI: How many of them?

8:57
DS: Four boys and seven sisters.

9:01
EI: Okay, typical Kurdish family.

9:02
DS: Typical. So, I was the oldest in the family and some time when my dad because he usually dad is not home so I had to take care of everything so my job was harder especially if you are a boy.

9:14
EI: Yeah, I can imagine.

9:17
DS: In our house usually because in those days you know revolution you do not have a hotel you do not have a place, so our house basically like was a head-quarter for the Peshmerga. They came, sleep, we feed them, my mom make sure they have clean clothes before they leave.

9:35
EI: So, you were completely part of the struggle–

9:38
DS: Completely.

9:39
EI: Like interview with some other Kurds they later participated the revolution, or I mean they were just ordinary villagers, but you were in the political–

9:56
DS: I was not in politic my dad was in politics and we were always with it, we were involved 24 hour/365 days.

10:05
EI: You were conscious for the–

10:06
DS: Oh yeah. They asked you sometime a few years ago we with the Turkish embassy we argue about everything but they did not like me at all, when they cannot stand me, they even said if you come to Turkey we will put you in jail but you know what that is fine but that is not true. Even I joined the Kurdistan Student Union in 1971–

10:45
EI: Where was it?

10:46
DS: It was in the revolution, it was part of K.D.P. [Kurdish Democratic Party] the youth group,

10:51
EI: Yeah, K.D.P. is Barzani’s Party?

10:54
DS: Right.

10:55
EI: And there was another one as I remember, the Talabani’s, what was it?

11:00
DS: P.U.K. [Patriotic Movement of Kurdistan].

11:03
EI: P.U.K., Okay. What was the main difference between them?

11:05
DS: Actually, if you look at it nothing.

11:08
EI: Like ideological?

11:09
DS: There is no ideology, ideology yeah, they believe in the leftist, they are supposed to be the Mao Zedong, not Lenin it is Mao Zedong-Lenin party which Chinese revolution. They are Maoist, but it was more Iran and British had a hand to split KDP at that time in 64. It was Iran and British was behind it.

11:39
EI: Okay, okay.

11:40
DS: Divide and conquer.

11:43
EI: Yeah. [laughs] Yeah, we will talk about regional politics, their role and how you think about it. So, you went to elementary school and high school in Kurdistan.

11:54
DS: Middle school and high school in Kurdistan.

11:57
EI: How was the all students were Kurdish?

11:59
DS: All Kurdish, and some of them. Actually, the people who taught us one of them was secretary general of KDP, he taught Arabic and religion the other one Dr. Mahmoud Othman now he was a politburo member, he taught the chemistry and biology because we did not have a teacher that time, So the political bureau was involved with teaching at the same time–

12:27
EI: So, you got chemical or math all science classes and then Kurdish classes?

12:32
DS: We did not have a lab, but we had the class.

12:34
EI: Yeah, okay. History or?

12:36
DS: History yeah.

12:37
EI: So, what was the main topics in history?

12:41
DS: Most of them was about the Kurdish–

12:43
EI: You were part of the history.

12:45
DS: Most time it was the Kurdish history, and because we had Iraqi history both but basically, they ignored those, they made own booklet–

12:57
EI: But still school had relations with Iraq?

13:01
DS: No.

13:01
EI: No?

13:02
DS: No. It was a hard thing to get a book, science book, history we did not care about it but the science book if somebody bring a book from Erbil city to Kurdistan, I mean that person get caught with the book would get arrested, they were taken to revolution. So, in the most time the whole class had one book and we had to copy and still my hand because I was copying the book all the time. We had to copy all the book.

13:44
EI: The physical conditions were not so good.

13:48
DS: Well the physical condition was good because we were doing exercise–

13:54
EI: No, I mean like the building–

13:55
DS: No, you had to make a building sure first you could the stove off in daytime, well nobody was in the village daytime. But you could not even turn the village [stove maybe] daytime and the plane find out where are the people located because the smoke means people there. So, they bombed it. So, you could not have a light in the night time, you had to cover all the window make sure nothing go out, so that is how they did.

14:30
EI: So, regime power was in Erbil or they were just controlled you from the air?

14:35
DS: Baghdad, yeah, the air the military, the Iraqi military was close to our area too. So, it was Peshmerga.

14:44
EI: But not in the city was there in the city or?

14:47
DS: No, city it was just pressure on the people.

14:51
EI: So, Peshmerga, did they have any legal right or did have they any legal– How can I say?

15:00
DS: With the Iraqi government no.

15:03
EI: No, they were just according to Iraqi court they were illegal–

15:08
DS: Oh yeah. They call them every name you can call.

15:12
EI: Okay like terrorists–

15:16
DS: Terrorists, you know killer, whatever name they find–

15:21
EI: So, have you been to college or University?

15:22
DS: In the United States, yes.

15:23
EI: In the United States, yeah. I want to learn that process, yesterday you told you just had one paper you even did not have citizenship, so how come you did not have citizenship they did not give you or you did not get it.

15:37
DS: No, the Iraqi was, I did not have it.

15:41
EI: Okay.

15:41
DS: So, when I came to the United States–

15:46
EI: So, was it common?

15:47
DS: Oh, for Kurds yeah, for most of them was common. If you are Arab, it was not a big deal you would get the paper, but for the Kurds they were trying to hide the Kurdish population so they did not give them citizenship.

15:54
EI: What was the reason behind that? So, they did not want as I understand integrate, if they really do not want to integrate to other to Baghdad–

16:04
DS: So, I came to the United States with the immigration called lisa pass, one piece of paper your picture is on it and that is it. And when I came–

16:14
EI: What was the year?

16:16
DS: 1977 and before the United States one group was here, fifteen hundred people to the United States before (19)76 was only eleven Kurds in the United States. As far as we know. There were not many. Then we came, we become like a three thousand Kurd in the United States. And it was a big difference and that is why sometime–

16:39
EI: So, what possible reason that you come, just come for tradition.

16:43
DS: Actually, when general Barzani was here after he came to the United States for because he was sick, he asked the United States to take some Kurdish refugee to the United States, and he was thinking to bring the younger people study in here and lobby about the Kurdish cause.

17:05
EI: He had that global view.

17:07
DS: Yeah, global view and I never forget I was trying to study history because I loved history and Masood Barzani, right now he is the president, I said ask your dad, because I call him, I said what thing I should study, and ask him really, I said what do you think I should study, I wanted to study history. He asked me what are you going to study I said history, he said why are you going to study history I said I love history, I said what do you think, he said let me ask my dad what does he think, so he asked general Barzani, he said no, I mean it is his choice whatever he want to study, but study engineering because Kurdistan will be independent and we need engineers to rebuild the country. So, all of the United States, most of the United States actually, I cannot 100 percent but over 98 percent that time studied engineering.

17:59
EI: Not political sciences or social sciences?

18:02
DS: No.

18:02
EI: But it is so common in Middle East I think, because I know from my university in Turkey like most of the students are coming from the Arab countries they are mostly engineers, so I do not know maybe they cannot participate in politics that is why they do not study–

18:20
DS: I think if you study politics I mean engineering could be a better Politian, I always tell the politics science, because you study math and you have to solve a problem, create a problem and solve a problem. Politics science or international or whatever in different major, you are a good writer but you are not a good problem solver.

18:44
EI: Okay. So, you think it is helpful for politics as well?

18:49
DS: It is very healthy to study engineering especially in math.

18:52
EI: So, where did you study? Which part?

18:53
DS: I studied in Tennessee in Nashville, a university called Tennessee State University.

19:00
EI: What was engineering?

19:02
DS: Civil engineering.

19:02
EI: Civil engineering?

19:05
DS: Right.

19:05
EI: How was the conditions there? How did affect your point of view, your perspective?

19:10
DS: Actually, when I came it was great, you know it was totally different, Shah was changed, everything is different, I mean I came from. Well so I lived in Tehran so it was not from Tehran that time was much ahead compare to Tennessee, but coming from the Kurd, coming being part of the revolution and then come to the United States was a big difference. It was a good thing we were not many, but we were united. We were very united we looked our cause first before our interest. The interest of Kurdish nation was always the first and personal interest was always the last. So, make sure we study, we would say while if we do not hang out with each other, we going to forget our language, we try to make sure we speak Kurdish all the time–

20:04
EI: With other Kurdish community?

20:06
DS: Yeah Kurdish community and we always gather in one-person house, it was our house usually or somebody else’s house usually is packed. And it was usually if I am home or not the door was open, people go there and come, it was still countable.

20:24
EI: It is common.

20:25
DS: Yeah, it was common and then we decided, we had this professor that he was advisor for us, he said no you should go study, he helped us to do the paperwork for university, how to apply for and actually it did help a lot, he did help a lot to, how to get the paper because we had no idea how to it, but he did help us. And we went to college, it was a struggle because–

20:52
EI: Did you have any organization there? Like–

20:56
DS: Yeah, we did, we had students we had, and did other thing we created a soccer team, so all the Kurds we always supported in that way we always in the weekend we got together because it was more not just as activity because everybody came to support the soccer team and that is how we raised the money for the soccer team for Adisaf. You make a t-shirt whatever, you sell for 10, 15 dollar, you make some money that go for the community.

21:31
EI: Yeah, Okay. And you graduated there and then went back to Kurdistan?

21:34
DS: I went to after 1988 I graduated I went to Kurdistan for two years–

21:39
EI: 1988?

21:40
DS: Right and I went to Kurdistan for two years, I was there and then I came back to the United States–

21:46
EI: Bad time I think 1988.

21:48
DS: It was the worst time which is the reason I came back. It was right the time of Anfal–

21:53
EI: So, how do you remember and think about Anfal?

21:55
DS: Well, in Anfal I was the only one I could say, no I was not there is another person here, we went to, for Halabja when the chemical, Saddam used the chemical, I went, a friend of mine called me, he has been killed anyway in the civil war between KDP and PUK, but he said let’s do something, he called me I was in Nashville and he was in Washington. So, we went to hunger strike, we came to New York city and we went to hunger strike against Saddam Hussein for chemical weapon.

22:27
EI: You had a hunger strike?

22:29
DS: Yeah for fourteen days. It was a tough time but you know what I never felt that I was a hungry person because I believed in the cause, people would say are you not hungry because I was a good eater, I said no because it was a cause you believed in, so I was, then in Anfal right before Anfal I was waiting to get the visa go to, because that time it was hard to go it was not like just get– so a friend of mine the same person said let’s do a hunger strike against for Anfal, we did it for twenty-four days–

23:08
EI: Where were you at that time? In Erbil.

23:11
DS: No, I was in Washington D.C.

23:13
EI: Washington D.C. Okay.

23:15
DS: And we had a threat from Iraqi embassy, they called a church who were holding the hunger, they told the church if you guys do not kick these Kurdish people we are going to blew up the church, Iraqi embassy called them but it was, and the preacher said.

23:31
EI: You had hunger strike at church?

23:33
DS: Right. And some employee of the church were scared but the preacher said we are doing a good cause, we believe in it and I am going to support the cause, so it was just, but its changed, even in the United States used you used to say I am a Kurd, nobody knew it– But now you say Kurd, they say Oh, where? City? They know it is a big difference.

24:02
EI: Yeah, exactly.

24:03
DS: But I graduated engineering but always use it for politics and some people say listen; if this corner is equal to this one it means this is equal to this one–

24:18
EI: Yeah, there are good politician engineers in Turkey as well, maybe you know Necmettin Erbakan?

24:23
DS: Yeah, did he pass away?

24:27
EI: Yeah.

24:28
DS: When, two.

24:31
EI: Like now our present like his student actually. They were, like he was engineer as well. In 1990 so actually–

24:46
DS: Then I moved, I went to Kurdistan, then in 1991 I moved back to the United States and went to Nashville. Then I said wow Nashville I cannot do that much.

25:05
EI: You went to Kurdistan after Anfal?

25:08
DS: Right, and then I came back to Nashville. Then I said Nashville, I cannot do that much for Kurdish cause I have to move to Washington. This is how I moved to D.C. And I was involved with the KDP political party and then–

25:15
EI: Do KDP has an institution in Washington at that time?

25:19
DS: It always did. A lot of other people trying to create the voice of America but KDP was the one behind it especially general Barzani behind to open the Kurdish service, Voice of America, yes at least you could do something for Kurds open, indeed it took a long time to press on it. Now everybody saying we did it, but we know how it happened.

25:50
EI: Yeah, actually 1990s it is not legal but in practice the Kurdish were more autonomous right in 1990 towards, until–

25:53
DS: Like it is more like independent actually–

25:55
EI: Yeah, it is but until 2000 and then second Gulf War, so what do you think about it?

26:06
DS: I think it was a greatest thing the United States did for Iraqis and especially for the Kurds. They made some mistakes, the state department.

26:18
EI: So, what was, what did Saddam had in his mind at that time like in general toward Kurds or towards?

26:20
DS: Saddam thought the Kurd–

26:27
EI: Because as I remember watching from TV like he always had the gun with his arms or we had a big family and luxury this is why I remember he had really good supporters in the street but was a dictator for me like watch in TV and I think he did not have the nationalist, he was nationalist but not for the whole Iraq–

26:57
DS: No, he was just for his village and just for himself–

27:00
EI: Yes, his nationalism was so local not towards all the citizens of Iraq.

27:09
DS: No, he was even, he was very local even the class, he had very had very low class too. He only–

27:12
EI: As you said he did not aim to mix the Kurds and Arabs–

27:19
DS: No, it was all about Saddam Hussein. Everything was about Saddam Hussein. His hero was Stalin, so imagine somebody’s hero be Stalin. And that is the person–

27:33
EI: Who Stalin like for his all citizens it was different, maybe he would not make discrimination against other nations or something, I do not know but

27:49
DS: But Saddam had it– Saddam had the power and if you can say I do not like Saddam Hussein you will be killed. That was a rule you cannot say anything about the president.

28:02
EI: And he was powerful in the region as well I think. Because his army–

28:07
DS: You know what he spent– Not just army was ridiculous but he spent so much money, and the money he gave to Arab countries in like in different places, if he had spent half of that money in Iraq he could rebuild all the country. But he did not, he just gave it to Palestinian, to Christians in Lebanon, Egypt everywhere, and he just. It was he thought he could be–

28:42
EI: Arab Leader or something?

28:44
DS: Yeah, that was his dream to be Arab leader one day.

28:50
EI: As Baath leader like Anwar–

28:52
DS: That was his thing really. It was not by action it was the reaction

28:59
EI: So, what has changed after 2003? I ask some people like you are an ordinary citizen not as a Peshmerga not as the Kurd, just ordinary citizen, what do you think, what has changed for you?

29:15
DS: For as a Kurd?

29:16
EI: Yeah, as a citizen actually.

29:18
DS: Well it is changed because now I used to had to fly for example, if I am a Kurd living in the United States, before 2003 I had to fly to, and the worse thing is to go to Syria, it was a nightmare. Going throughout, One, and I would never go back through that way in Syria to Kurdistan, and going to Turkey it was ridiculous too, from Istanbul they check you out all the way to Fishxaboor, and everywhere was a checkpoint. Military put a tank in a street somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, they say “Okay, come down, bring all yourself, and dump him in the floor in the ground”–

30:04
EI: In Turkey?

30:05
DS: In Turkey, and for no reason just to say they have power. And then I look one guy it was had two stars, I said you know what, you make me back to Kurdistan and support PKK [The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK; Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎], I said the way you treat me every time I come to Turkey, you make people like that. He said you think that. I said I promise you if I go back to Kurdistan, I am going to donate some money to PKK, just because of you. He said I am going to put you in a jail I said you could put me in a jail but you cannot pull the whole nation in a jail. You put yourself in a jail, treat people right, and now it is totally different, there is freedom, Kurdistan is changed so much I mean we had one of the biggest airport in the middle east right now. Erdogan personally came to open the airport–

31:05
EI: Like creating investment,

31:09
DS: Lots of Turkish investment, majority they are Turkish–

31:13
EI: And there are little luxury and there is a middle class actually emerging there. So, you want to, I am really conscious about that like worried about that in other Arab countries there are luxuries as well because of petrol or oil when you come to the investment like the companies like there is always consumption not, they do not produce so–

31:42
DS: Be honest with you, I will be honest with you, the Kurd from Turkey, the Kurd from Iran very hard working, the Kurd from Iraq very lazy working. Because I think it is, they think the government has to, I cannot 100 percent but like 98 percent of the Kurds live in Iraq they have some kind of salary.

32:07
EI: Yeah, from government?

32:08
DS: From the government. 74 to 75 percent of our budget goes to salaries. And we have the laziest people and mostly you know the worker right now they come not from Iraq, or they come from the southern Iraq whatever, but everybody else–

32:32
EI: Yeah, the workers.

32:33
DS: The worker.

32:34
EI: I Saudi Arabia it is the same–

32:37
DS: They act like Gulf [countries], and that is dangerous.

32:38
EI: Yeah, that is why–

32:40
DS: You know if you look at, was the empire Islamic empire, what is Mamluk?

32:47
EI: Yeah.

32:47
DS: And that is how they got empire because they brought so money worker and they got together said that we ran the country, so they, we going to be king, so to me the Kurds act, I think we should watch what Turkey is doing, what Iranian is doing not what the Arabs, because Arabs are lazy people.

33:08
EI: Actually, I do not think that it is cultural–

33:09
DS: It is culture–

33:10
EI: Is it?

33:11
DS: Yeah.

33:12
EI: You think that, okay. For the Turkey there is no oil, and for Iran there is some but–

33:17
DS: No, I think Iran has more than Saudi Arabia–

33:23
EI: Really?

33:23
DS: Oh yeah.

33:24
EI: But still they are not lazy.

33:26
DS: No, Iranian very worker and very nationalist, but the Kurd from Iraq no, Kurd from Turkey they most come to the United States in 1990 after we did, but after a little while they start business and they become successful. And the Kurds from Iraq they talk politics, they do nothing and they always whining. The young generation is different, I could say it was affected by two things, because there were Peshmerga the most time, those who were Peshmerga, so they never worked from fighting, that is it. And then they were either Jash [you know what Jash means]?

34:00
EI: I know, can you explain it more for people?

34:04
DS: Jash were those people who work for the government–

34:10
EI: Iraqi government?

34:12
DS: Turkish government, Iraqi government because all they have a Jash, and they call them in the United States mercenary and they get salary, and Saddam said okay if you do not go join the Peshmerga, here is your salary just stay home, and they never did anything. So that two together really had effect; and some people not from the United States but from Europe and they live on Social and they try to make the same system like in Kurdistan. So, and it is not easy to teach these people to work and even I do not know how but the Kurds sends some scholarship to Kurdish students to the United States, they get full paid, everything is paid from college and I do not know–

35:02
EI: Yes, there is good investments to students I think–

35:05
DS: Right it is, and the thing they do even–

35:08
EI: It is government policy–

35:10
DS: Yeah, and even they pay for the family if they have a family, bring the family and they give them money and they still say there is no enough money, we cannot like, you are here to study you are not here to save money. You are here student. But they always whine and they, I am not saying all of them but they are a lot lazy one. But the Kurd from Turkey and Iran they are very good. And Syria, there are not many of them in the United States–

35:42
EI: Do you think any solution for that?

35:46
DS: Yes, but it would be tough and I recommended to some government but they said if you do that it is going to be uprising, because of you cut off the salary from, let’s say you got to work, what you going to do?

36:00
EI: Maybe it is not time for that now–

36:02
DS: It is not time because some people I mean especially right now Iran have to do that kind of stuff because Iran, because of Syria situation, so Iran would do now they spend so much money in Kurdistan just do stuff, because they call Barzani ally of Turkey, United States and Israel all of that.

36:27
EI: As I understand like now the Kurdistan region has problem with Iran because they have problem with Maliki, they have problem with Syria they are supporters are Iran for you right now.

36:39
DS: And it is Iran because Maliki cannot do nothing without Iran and the main problem right now, see with Iran we always had a problem, as a KDP we always had it but it was right now it is the worse because we support Kurd in Syria, because we are supporting these people and freedom of the Kurd and what they do, they say know, you cannot do that, so this is the problem and what they do they spend money propaganda in Iraq and they are using Maliki to do these kind of stuff and they do a lot of different thing but it is not going to, we are not going to give up on Kurd, I mean when Barzani went to Turkey, Ankara asked him said say are PKK terrorists? Said no it Turkish government sit down with them at a peace talk and if PKK refuse it down with them it is a different situation but if Turkey refuse talk with them how we can–

37:58
EI: What is your treatment, the regional government treatment toward other Kurds in the other parts?

38:04
DS: I would say actually it is great, I mean–

38:06
EI: What do you think about them in Syria, in Turkey, in Iran?

38:10
DS: We believe in as the KRG we believe that their situations have to be solved but we try if they ask for our help to get them between Turkish government and the Kurd we try to help them out and Syria same way, Syria was different, Iran we supported them 100 percent same way and if they came to our, and we have some scholarship in the university just for Kurds from Turkey, Iran and Syria, there are seats reserved for them and you know majority business in Kurdistan especially from Turkey they are Kurds, the big business–

38:48
EI: Yeah, is it not oil companies but small companies most of them are from Diyarbakır?

38:57
DS: All of them is from–

39:00
EI: So, is there political integration between Kurds in Turkey and Iraq?

39:08
DS: Yeah and it is more open if you close the border it is going to be hard to this way, it is more, Kurds being close and if you close the border because if you close the border with Turkey you have no communication with other Kurds but now we have a communication with the other Kurds. I know some families from Istanbul or Wan, she is a singer you probably know her, Fatee–

39:56
EI: The singer?

39:57
DS: Yeah.

39:57
EI: Yeah, I know her– She has a program in TERT 6 TV.

40:00
DS: Right. She is a good friend, and she is from Wan and he husband has a company in Erbil, construction small company–

40:14
EI: Yeah, so there is political integration,

40:23
DS: Yeah.

40:24
EI: Okay.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview

21 February 2013

Interviewer

Erdem Ilter

Interviewee

Dasko Shirwani

Biographical Text

Dasko was born in Iraq and is a member of the Barzani Tribe. He never had a stable childhood because he had to constantly move and run away from Saddam Hussein’s war against the Kurds. Dasko lives in the United States and holds a Civil Engineering degree from Tennessee State University.

Duration

40:24 minutes

Language

English

Digital Publisher

Binghamton University

Interview Format

audio

Rights Statement

This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Kurdish Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.

Keywords

Kurdistan; Kurdish; Peshmarga; Iraq; Turkey; Iran; United States; Saddam Hussein; Barzani; PKK; Gulf Wars; Anfal; Everyday life; conflict;

Files

Citation

“Dasko Shirwani,” Digital Collections, accessed May 27, 2022, https://omeka.binghamton.edu/omeka/items/show/572.