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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!