mardi 25 novembre 2008

Letter from Mr. Orhan Ketene, an Iraqi Turkmen, to President Elect Barack Obama

President Elect Barack Obama

Nov. 24, 2008

Dear and Honorable Mr. President:

Congratulations on your historical election as the president of the United States of America. Your victory is the triumph of hope, a hope for a good change and a better future for the United States and the world.

I am writing to you not just because you won an election but because you have good intentions and you stand for justice and equality.

As a Turkmen from Northern Iraq, I ask you to pay attention to the plight of the Turkmens who are the second largest community in Northern Iraq and the third largest one in Iraq.
This peaceful and civilized people have been a part of Iraq’s history for at least fifteen centuries and have contributed a lot to this country. Their monuments throughout the history still stand.
Turkmens have always been friendly with neighboring communities in the region. They have shared their wealth and lands with the others for thousand years.

However, for the last nine decades, they have been unjustifiably prejudiced as disloyal to the country and wrongfully portrayed as the fifth column of a neighboring state. They have been under suspicion and have been victims of assimilation and ethnic cleansing campaigns.
Their population, which is in the category of millions, had been ignored and until today, they have been treated as a small minority by every administration in Iraq. My people were and are marginalized and denied their right of self determination, autonomy and any role in the state affairs as well as any high position in the successive governments.

Dear Mr. President; this people are in dire need of justice.

It is helpful to know that Northern Iraq is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious area.
Unlike the rest of the country, which is predominantly Arabic, there are four major distinct groups in the North; the Kurds, the Turkmens, the Arabs and the Chaldo-Assyrians as well as two smaller groups, the Ezdis and the Shabaks.

Northern Iraq includes the ethnic homelands of Kurdistan, Turkmeneli and Assyria. Therefore, each of those communities would like to have their autonomy and the right of self-determination, in order to protect and promote their language and culture.

None of the groups accept to be dominated by the other, but rather through equal partnership between the majors and a fair share for the rest.

The American administration has told Iraqi minorities that they will bring equality to individuals and communities alike. However, they favored one minority only and gave them every thing they dreamed of and more. On the other hand they gave symbolic positions and representations to the Turkmens and the Chaldo-Assyrians.

Moreover, they let this favored minority to dominate the whole of Northern Iraq by force, despite the will of the other components.
The reality in Northern Iraq is; one ethnic homeland of one ethnic group is expanding against the other ethnic homelands.

Unlike what has been portrayed in the western media, Northern Iraq is not a haven for democracy, peace and stability, but rather, a land of mini dictatorships, ethnic discriminations, ethnic cleansing, countless assassinations, unwarranted arrests and torture. Currently, there is a resistance in Northern Iraq against this imposed hegemony which will escalate into a bloody conflict unless equality between all groups is established.

Dear Mr. President;
Turkmens hope to see the United States adhere to its American values and leave a good legacy behind, for this troubled region.

Empowering and enabling those great values will stop terrorism, ethnic intimidation and the drain of wealth. It will bring peace, stability and cooperation between all ethnic groups in Northern Iraq which will make it a good model for the rest of the Middle East region.

I ask you, as a defender of justice and righteousness, to consider the real situation in Northern Iraq and do the right thing to restore Americas’ rightful image.

Thank you for your attention.


Orhan Ketene

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