Why no Kurdish flag?

Have a look at the image on the left. It is from the Middle East News webpage on the Voice of America (VOA) News website. It is a list of the Middle Eastern languages that VOA uses for its Middle East news webpages. All of the languages listed have flags in the background…except the two labelled Kurdi and Kurdish. They only have dull brown and grey maps. Why no Kurdish flag? This really piqued my curiosity and I thought about sending an e-mail to VOA.

But instead I picked up the phone and dialled the VOA public relations office in Washington DC and asked them this question: Why no Kurdish flag? The person who answered the phone didn’t have an answer and put me on hold telling me that she’d transfer me to someone who could better answer my question. Good. Progress, I thought.

When this second person came on the line I asked why there was no Kurdish flag associated with Kurdi and Kurdish squares on the Middle East News webpage. Her answer was that there wasn’t one particular country associated with the language and so there was no one flag they could use.

I said, well, actually, there is. You can use the Kurdish flag, which would encompass all the Kurdish land and represent the Kurdish nation. She said, but there isn’t one nation. Hmmm. I corrected her and said, well, there may be several countries, but there is only one nation…so why don’t you use the Kurdish flag? She said, well, there’s more than one country associated with the language. I suspect she didn’t fully grasp the difference between country and nation.

I tried explaining and again repeated, ‘Using the Kurdish flag would represent the Kurdish nation as a whole.’ She became more flustered and simply kept repeating that the there was no way to represent this. I argued that there was, but finally she ended the conversation saying that I could leave my contact information and someone else would get back to me. It was an exercise in frustration as I’m sure she was just repeating whatever policy had been put in place by some higher up in the organisation.

So it’s time to explain to VOA that there is a Kurdish nation and with it, a Kurdish flag. This is a call to action! I am asking you to write to the VOA Public Relations Office in Washington, DC and ask them the same question: Why no Kurdish flag? The email is: askvoa@voanews.com. In the subject line of the e-mail write ‘Why is there no Kurdish flag?’ Write them and explain why you think there should be a Kurdish flag in those two boxes for Kurdi and Kurdish. Be curteous and clear. Passion is fine, but don’t come across as rude. In the text of your email please reference their webpage: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/. Tell them too that you saw the story about the missing flags on Kurdistan Commentary and we are all waiting for an answer. You can ask them to direct their official response to Kurdistan Commentary if you want. If they send me a response, I’ll post it on the blog. Our e-mail address is kurdistancommentary(at)googlemail.com.

Good luck and thanks for writing to VOA!


14 thoughts on “Why no Kurdish flag?

  1. While I agree with the statement that there is a Kurdish nation (represented by a flag) eventhough there is not a country named Kurdistan, the truth is the usage of flags in my opinion is not good.

    Azerbaijanis are one nation too, but the square simply shows Republic of Azerbaijan’s flag while most azeries live in Iran (so why not put Southern Azerbaijan’s flag or Iran’s flag as well?). Same for Armenians (there are many Armenians living in Iran, Lebanon…). Even the separation between Dari and Persian is ridiculous

    The shape of the are where the speakers live should be enough for all languages listed.

  2. Whichever way you go, flags or maps, it should be consistent. Choose one way that be used across the board. That’s my point.

  3. And that is why I said I agree with you regarding the existance of a Kurdish flag that represents the Kurdish people ;-).

    Did you get any e-mail from VOA so far?

  4. To renostan; “Same for Armenians (there are many Armenians living in Iran, Lebanon…)……
    the truth is the usage of flags in my opinion is not good.”

    I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong, while there are Armenians in Lebanon, there are Kurds in Azerbaijan, but what is the relation of that to a nation as a whole and their flag..!? You have to know that the point in what KB clarifies is that there is a nation called Kurds and while Kurdistan as a whole is not recognized, it has been identified world wide, and S.Kurdistan has been officially recognized as a federal state inside Iraq with their own flag, hence VOA and the likes of you must have realized that and know that this nation, despite living in different sides of several artificial borders, should be considered as one with their already recognized official flag.

  5. I think I didn’t express my point correctly: The Kurdish flag represents a mainly a stateless nation (eventhough as you pointed out it’s also the official flag or Iraki Kurdistan), this being said, the other flags represent not nations but concrete geographical spaces, which are not necessarily inhabited by people whose mother language is the official of the country and not all speakers of a certain language live inside their boundaries.

    This is why I said I don’t like the usage of flags and I am actually against it. It applies for more widespread languages like Spanish, English or Portguese, to name a few.

    The name of the languages should be enough in my opinion.

    I don’t know if anybody realized that is something even more wrong that the flag issue in the picture shared here.

  6. The discourse of the White House on Kurds and Kurdistan is fundamentally in line with the hegemonic discourse that denies self-determination and an independent national identity to Kurds and Kurdistanis. This is the same discourse that has been saturated with Persian, Arab and Turkish nationalist ideologies for at least a century. Neither at VOA nor in any office document or speech of the US (and many other countries’) administration the words Kurdistan and Kurdish nation shall be used. Nor there should be any reinforcement of the “pan-Kurdish nationalistic ambition” invoked by the Kurdish flag and also the map of the Greater Kurdistan. To the US authorities there is no Kurdistan, but there is “Kurdish region(s)”. And, a region seldom has a national flag or map.

    There goes my two cents!


  7. Since Daris have no separate country, they shouldn’t have used a flag for them either. I mean they may have used four flags for Kurds. I agree with Renostan about unimportance of flags but yet I am not sure and still thinking about expecting a nation without a county to do/act/think -you name it- what a nation with a county does.

  8. Another point that came to my mind now: when you read history of Middle East, you never or rarely encounter the name of Kurds. I believe because Kurds don’t have a country yet (and hence no official history writing that can be recognized), those who have (Turks, Arabs and Persians) write the history for themselves and compete with each other to possess what belongs to the ancient societies lived here. That same thing is valid for all the ancient societies that still live in these lands without a country like Assyrians.

  9. Yes, this is a subtle reflection of US policy in the region. You can see this too in photos from the White House. Mahmoud Abbas visits Obama and there’s a Palestinian flag (policy=two-state solution). Massoud Barzani visits the White House and there’s an Iraqi flaq (policy=a unified Iraq).

  10. “Mahmoud Abbas visits Obama and there’s a Palestinian flag (policy=two-state solution). Massoud Barzani visits the White House and there’s an Iraqi flag (policy=a unified Iraq).”

    100% correct, excellent summation.

  11. I will write to them and i will give the link to more people who are interested to defend our national honour.

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