A provisional design for a Kurdish banknote with writings in two Kurdish dialects, Turkmen and Assyrian writings. The Kurdish referendum for independence takes place on September 25, and the ballot box is expected to include the referendum question in four languages: Kurdish, Arabic, Assyrian, and Turkmen. Photo: Anoo Abdoka's Facebook page.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – It has been nearly a quarter century since Aso Mamzada first envisioned an independent Kurdistan with a currency of its own. Back then he was living in Iran and without a computer that could help him to design Kurdish banknotes. Things have changed since then and he is not far from fulfilling his dream.
Sitting in his office behind a computer, Mamzada unveils his latest though not final version for Kurdish banknotes he calls Diraw or currency in Kurdish.
In his original vision years ago, he planned for a currency for greater Kurdistan comprised of all four parts from Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. But knowing all too well that each one of these parts has its own politics and different path to the future, he has now changed his design to only include symbols from the Kurdistan Region.
“In terms of the international law if I use the Bestun [Inscription] of Kermanshah, Iran would immediately come out and say that there it is 'Kurdistan has not become a state yet, or is about to be one and soon try to expand into our territory'. And also based on the international law, Bestun of Kermanshah is part of Iran.”
Mamzada started re-publishing his work soon after Erbil announced to hold a referendum for independence in the fall, and he did the same in 2011 when there were talks of a similar plan.
Twenty-three years into his designs for a Kurdish currency, he is still making changes. His main bank note with Kurdish and English writing had gone viral on social media. But for Anoo Abdoka, a Christian residing in Erbil, there was still room for other components of Kurdistan.
“Hand in hand, with mutual understanding and cooperation we will build Kurdistan, a homeland [for] everyone and for all,” Abdoka who is a Christian politician and media figure wrote on his Facebook page as he published the revised version that also included Assyrian and Turkmen writings.
Anoo Abdoka [L] discusses Aso Mamzada's currency designs in Erbil on June 18, 2017. Photo: Abdoka's Facebook page.
A native of the Iranian Kurdish city of Bokan, the 35-year-old Mamzada first came to Kurdistan Region in 2007.
He says that it seemed to him that the Kurds had lost their confidence as a nation after the World War I when borders were redrawn in the Middle East and Kurds became the largest stateless nation in the world.
“Throughout the last 100 years we the Kurds have always been oppressed. Our country was occupied, [we were told] that ‘you have nothing, you do not have a state.’ therefore we had lost our confidence and trust in ourselves,” Mamzada told Rudaw from his design company.
“My work was meant to the Kurds in all the four parts of Kurdistan, and the Kurds in the world. I wanted to bring back this [lost] confidence through the currency [designs].
He told a Kurdish media in 2011 that he added a modern touch to textile and rug designs drawn by the Kurdish people centuries ago.
He also used some Kurdish figures for his work that represent different phases of the Kurdish rebellion against successive Iraqi governments.
Aso Mamzada works at his office in Kurdistan's Region's capital of Erbil. He shows his earlier design for an independent greater Kurdistan that portrays Qazi Mohammed, President of the short-lived Republic of Mahabad in Iran that was founded in 1946. Photo: Safin Hamed
Video: Mamzada points to a map on one of his designs that shows with white dots the route the Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, father of President Masoud Barzani, took to the Soviet Union after the collapse of the Mahabad Republic. He then shows another design on his computer of the leader of a Kurdish rebellion Sheikh Mahmoud Hafid who commanded a Kurdish rebellion against the British and Iraqi governments after World War I.