Interview with Afshin Berahmand, a Kurdish journalist based in Denmark who is writing an article on Catalan independence. Afshin has asked KurdisCat fou our opinions because he is writing an article for a Danish newspaper on the right to independence for Catalunya. We asked him too about his personal opinions, Catalonia and, of course, Kurdistan.
Which part of Kurdistan are you from?
I was born in Iran, which makes me officially and Iranian Kurd. However, growing up in Denmark makes me loose my "Iranian"hood. I feel kurdish and only kurdish in that sense.
Did you travel to the country there?
I have never been in Iran because my family members are political refugees, so when I go to Kurdistan I go to the parts in Iraq or Turkey. My favourite city is Diyarbakir.It is difficult to live with two identities or you don't?
I have no problem with identity, I am Kurdish, Danish, European, middle eastern, and I am not bothered so much by not having a country, I just don't want to be Iranian or Turkish or Arab because I am none of that.
Can you, shortly, explain your personal experience being Kurdish but living in Europe?
I am more European than anything. European Danish Kurd maybe, but not Iranian. Also I see Diyarbakir in Turkey or Erbil in Iraq as my own historic home country. I am sad that there is so much reluctance towards people from the Middle East in Europe. We are not the same. There are problems within immigrant communities but in my view they are to a larger extent socio-economical problems than religious for instance. And kurds, Turks, Arabs, Persians, even Arabs from different countries are not the same, so I don't want to take blame for something that many Arabs do that kurds don't or the other way around.
Which perspectives for Kurdistan did you see as possible? Could end tne endless suffereing of this country?
Well, in a fantasy world an independent Kurdistan would solve many things, but not all. In my view perhaps Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan can become a country and Turkish Kurds can form some sort of self-government.
During the late 1800's the Kurdish nationalist movement had two fractions, one pro-iranian with a country with equality between all indo-Arian people, Kurds, Persians, lur, baloch, and other groups in modern day Iran, but the Persians made everything Iranian Persian, a lot like the spaniards. They say we are all spaniards or Iranians but everything is Castillano and Persian.
How did you know about Catalonia and what's your opinion of her own process?
I knew about Catalunya through the basque question actually. I have some basque friends and they introduced me to the issues in Spain and I came to like the works of Pau Casals and later read books and documentaries on Catalan identity, I felt I could relate and have a warm heart for both Catalan and Basque people, culture and languages. One Catalan artist told me that he felt like being Spanish also meant being anti-Catalan, and I could relate to that 100%.
As far as Catalan independence goes, I stress the fact that any government should allow the people to express its free will. If 80% want independence the central government has to listen to its people if it wants to be perceived as legitimate. Some activism in the EU is also a possibility.
We have two very rich countries in spanish Catalunya and iraqi Kurdistan. I hope the two regions will develop strong bonds, through sports, business, culture and political ties. Also show the world that Christian and Muslim people can feel like brothers and sisters. I am myself in my last year in law school and I worked for the Danish ministry of foreign affairs at the United Nations in New York iPad realized there is no international human rights platform to discuss the issues pertaining to situations like ours. There should be forums like that and the governments of both Catalunya and Kurdistan should fund scholarships for young people that want to educate and evolve the doctrine of self determination, so we will be the best at providing legal arguments for our freedom to choose our political identity.
Interview by KurdisCat - Catalan Solidarity Kurdistan Committee (Desteya Katalan ji bo Piştgiriya Kurdistanê)