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Namdar, Kurdistan

“A curious detail about Yara, our baby, is that Iran will consider her a citizen. She has a Dutch mother, I have a Dutch passport and she was born here. Yet they think she is Iranian, because I come from the Iranian part of Kurdistan.” "But that's not a country, is it?" I ask. “Not officially, but we are a large people with our own region divided over four countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In all those countries we are being oppressed as we aim to become independent.”

“I used to believe that we had to battle those regimes for our freedom. I've never done that myself, but I've had the training. Now I think differently. When you're young, you're more activist. But violence doesn't solve anything in the end. It just makes things worse.”

“I had to flee from my hometown. The Iranian secret service made our lives miserable. Someone had told them that I was a member of a certain political group. So, I left for the Iraqi part of our country, where we have more autonomy. I was not safe there either. Finally, I decided to come to Europe. I had no choice. I don't want to say much about the journey that brought me here, but it was long and we didn't go by plane.”

“I was 24 when I arrived here and I've never regretted it. I learned the language, I was able to retrain professionally and the company where I did my internship ended up offering me a job. Now I work in a biscuit factory in Sassenheim. Coincidence or not, because at home half of my family work as cookie bakers.” He smiles and then frowns. “Sometimes it’s not easy though. I cannot go back. When someone passes away, or if there is a wedding, I really miss my family.”

“In 2019 we all met during a trip to Armenia. I hadn't seen them for thirteen years. I'm so glad we could do this. My youngest brother was still small when I left. Now he introduced me to his wife! It was amazing. Of course I also introduced them to mine, Monique. Our best friends introduced us some years back. We recently became parents. So even though I want a free Kurdistan, my future is here in the Netherlands.”


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