You may have read the posting from 01 October regarding the flags on the Voice of America (VOA) Middle East news webpage. I phoned VOA to ask about why there was no Kurdish flag on that page. I also sent an e-mail to VOA’s Public Relations office. I don’t know how many people actually wrote to them about the flag issue on their webpage, but thank you if you did!
Yesterday I received an e-mail response from them. I want to thank VOA for responding. I appreciate the time taken to look into my question and craft a response. That said, I can’t say that I’m in agreement with the answer they provided.
Here is what VOA wrote:
Thank you for writing to VOA with your concerns. We appreciate your point of view. We are sorry you are disappointed in VOA’s website, but after checking with the editors of the web page in question, we were told that the flag you refer to is not recognized internationally and is not allowed to be displayed in any of the other countries where large Kurdish populations live; consequently VOA does not accord it the same status as internationally recognized national flags.
VOA Public Relations
‘[T]he flag you refer to’, meaning the Kurdish flag, they say in their missive, ‘is not allowed to be displayed in any of the other countries where large Kurdish populations live.’ It is true that it is banned in Turkey, Syria, and Iran and flying it is a criminal offence. But I think one needs to look beyond the ban and ask why. Should one just take these bans at face value? In these parts of the world simply being Kurdish is criminalised in one way or another. If something is banned—a flag, a language, music, culture, political expression, media, dance, certain letters of the alphabet, thought, mother-tongue education—will you say ‘Oh, okay’ and accept it? Or will you question it and ask, ‘Hey, is this morally justified? Should an entire nation be denied their basic rights?’ By not asking these questions, by keeping silent, you are complicit in the crimes of these oppressive regimes and their stance on the Kurds.
VOA said ‘in any [emphasis mine] of the other countries where large Kurdish populations live.’ Any? And what’s their definition of large? Is 5,000,000 a large number? Because there are almost 5 million Kurds in South Kurdistan (Note to VOA: I’m referring to the three provinces that make up the Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq).
In this area, where the Kurdish population is large by my definition, the Kurdish flag is displayed. It is ubiquitous. It is official. So I would ask the VOA Public Relations office to please go back to their editors, and if nothing else, at least inform them of this mistake in their report about the flag of Kurdistan.
I understand that VOA is an official agency of the US government and therefore has to follow whatever the US policy is in the region. But I still don’t understand the need to have that image of maps and flags on the Middle East news page. No other world region on the VOA website has that. It is curious.