Beyond Borders premiered the documentary Kulajo: My Heart Is Darkened this Wednesday 22nd August 2012, at the Edinburgh Filmhouse, as part of the Beyond Borders ‘Small Nations in Cinema’ season.
The event was sponsored by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and supported by the Justice4Genocide e-petition campaign calling on the British Government to recognise the genocide against the Kurds in Iraq prior to and during Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Ms Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG High Representative to the UK, reiterating the importance of this campaign on behalf of the genocide victims and survivors, said, “The people of Kurdistan are forward-looking and optimistic but we will never forget what happened to our people. By signing this petition, British citizens will be giving their support to the men, women and children who were killed while the world remained silent. That silence can end now.
Ms Rahman added, “The support and recognition by the British Government will also enable us to get a step closer to the formal legal recognition by the United Nations, which is key to achieving justice, reparations, and healing our people’s wounds”.
Kulajo was one of the thousands of Kurdish villages targeted by Saddam Hussein during his murderous 1988 Anfal campaign. The documentary Kulajo: My Heart Is Darkened allows the people – mostly women and children – of one small community to tell their extraordinary stories. Anfal was a comprehensive plan for destroying all life in the rural areas of Kurdistan in eight stages of military operations; the focus of Anfal varied from one stage to another.
The documentary is Executive Produced by the Emmy-Award winning team of Gwynne Roberts and Sadie Wykeham, directed by ex-BBC award winning Director Helena Appio and produced by Joel Wykeham.
At the screening, film-director Gwynne Roberts and his team expressed their support for the epetition campaign. Mr Roberts said, “I have travelled all over the world to film documentaries, but the story of the Kurdish people is the one which affects me most, because of the sense of pain and injustice.”
He added, “The story of the Kurdish Genocide is highly significant for the world today as, for example, the attack on the village of Balisan in April 1987 was the first instance of a Government using chemical weapons against their own people, which the international community must learn from, especially given the current situation in Syria.”
Baroness Elizabeth Smith, Chairman of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Hanzala Malik MSP attended the screening.
Hanzala Malik MSP for Glasgow, who has recently visited Kurdistan with the all-party group on the Kurdistan Region parliamentary mission, said, “It’s astonishing that we still continue to carry out barbaric acts against mankind. This was a deliberate, targeted military campaign based on ethnicity, and clearly we have not learned the lessons from the Holocaust. We need to formally recognise that this was genocide so that we can bring the perpetrators to justice, and we need to take responsibility for what happened so we can learn the necessary lessons.”
Two representatives from the Scottish-Kurdish community, Mr Kawa Ali and Dr Massoud Murad, assisted with the promotion of the e-petition after the screening.
The genocide of the Kurdish people in Iraq began in the 1960s and continued until the late 1980s. Independent sources estimate that more than 150,000 people were killed, as many as 100,000 women were widowed and an even greater number of children were orphaned during the Anfal campaign alone, orchestrated between 23 February and 6 September 1988.
This week, 25 August, marks the beginning of the final stage of the anfal operation which targeted mostly adult and teenage males of the Badinan district in the Zagros mountains of the Kurdistan region.