The Reality of Traveling To Kurdistan | As A Kurd

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Probably the most difficult thing to do and explain to individuals who are not Kurds is the reality of what we as Kurds go through just to simply travel to the place that birthed our culture, traditions and even parents stories. Here are some of the reasons and the harsh reality of Kurds traveling to Kurdistan. These things I’ve experienced myself (and probably most of the diaspora population) or family members when merely just wanting to visit the homeland.

If you are a Kurd and experienced similar situations comment your experiences down below. If you are someone who isn’t Kurdish, but wants to get a small glimpse into this reality here you go… and thank you.

Traveling through turkey (its obvious)

No disrespect to the Turkish people who support the Kurdish cause, but the worst thing any Kurd can do is try to travel through Turkey. We probably all know why, or will find out soon. I’ve traveled through Turkey twice to go to the Kurdistan region and it was probably the worst thing in my life. Not only do you have to visibly hide any sign you are Kurdish, but when they ask you where you are traveling to you can’t even tell them you are traveling to the Kurdistan region. They will automatically make things a million times harder for you. I remember having red, green, and yellow Kurdish fabric tied to my suitcase just so I knew which one was mine, but right when we got into the Turkish airport my father made sure to tell me to take it off and not to speak Kurdish or tell them that we are Kurdish. It was probably the scariest reality I’ve had as a Kurd. Simply wanting to travel to Kurdistan, but in the back of your head fearing that something will happen while you’re there.

The checkpoints in and out of the Kurdistan region into Turkey is probably another one of our realities as Kurds. I remember waiting for hours with my father and this Kurdish driver to drive us back into Amed (Diyarbakir), but waited because the guards didn’t believe us. I don’t even have an exact reason to tell you because I don’t have a sufficient reason for why they did this. Making traveling hard for Kurds just because they are Kurdish is what happens in Turkey when you travel through there, the reality of traveling to Kurdistan.

My father and I told each other that we will not go through Turkey ever again, and its been years since I’ve done that and probably never will. Besides the fact that they will automatically interrogate you if you’re Kurdish, but I’ve had multiple problems with the mistreatment of suitcases and the long car ride that I had to take just to get to Duhok.

Airport shutdown??

Imagine traveling to Kurdistan just to be stuck in the region fearing for your wellbeing if you leave through Turkey or Baghdad. When the Iraqi government closed the Erbil International airport in 2017 a family member of mine was stuck there for 8 months. Not wanting to travel through Baghdad during the time because of the countries condition and the government ban and not wanting to go through Turkey because of past experience. He was stuck there hoping that the promises of the Iraqi government to open the airport again in the up-incoming months is true this time and they wouldn’t go back on their word, the reality of traveling to Kurdistan.

I’d definitely rather be left in Kurdistan with family than having to deal with those who oppress us on a constant basis to try and get back to the country you reside in.

No Kurdistan passport!

Anytime I tell someone that Kurdistan isn’t technically a country and that southern Kurdistan is only seen as a region they are shocked because I talk about Kurdistan as if it is, which is something that I do on purpose. But with no official country (YET) comes no official passport to show and hold that says Kurdistan on it. As a dual citizen It is definitely hard for my parents who escaped their home because government of Iraq to hold an Iraqi passport to use to get into Kurdistan. This is the reality for Kurds holding on to a passport that tries to identify where you belong, but can’t seem to accurately represent what is in our hearts and what we constantly show to the world, this is our reality.

How many plane rides??

For any Kurd living in North America the reality for us is the amount of traveling we need to do just to simply get to Kurdistan. I don’t mind the traveling because I know that Im traveling to where I want to be, but the amount of lay-overs, plane rides, and dealing with security if you live in North America is the worst. I remember we would take a plane from Toronto to Istanbul (this is when I traveled through Turkey) then from Istanbul to Amed then took a car from Amed to Duhok. I probably cried on the drive to Duhok because of how exhausted I was. Another time my family and I traveled was from Toronto to Frankfurt Germany (because of family reasons and the cost). Then from there we traveled to Istanbul, Istanbul to Amed and from there to Hewler (Erbil). After that we then drove back up north to Duhok, just writing this sentence gave me a headache imagine actually traveling like this.

Our reality is harsh, but I wouldn’t change who I am for anything. If you want to share your own stories about our reality traveling to Kurdistan comment it down below. I will share your responses on my Instagram and respond back!

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