Dashni Morad with Kurdish Peshmerga in the Kurdistan Region. Photo: Morad
“I support independence as a Kurd, because our people dream of freedom. It is time to unite Kurdistan around our shared culture, our shared language, and our shared history,” Kurdish singer and humanitarian Dashni Morad told Rudaw English.
“We tried very hard to be part of Iraq. I love Iraq. I have many Iraqi friends. But I think 'Iraq' no longer exists,” she said during a recent visit to a refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region.
“And if we are going to be united, we have to be able to respect each other's homes and share with one another by respecting this is my home, that is your home, we visit one another. We exchange and we trade … it's all about protection.”
Morad was born in Sulaimani. She fled with her family to Iran in the 1990s before landing in Europe, where she has gone on to become a pop singer, songwriter, and human rights and environmental activist.
With the Kurdistan Region holding a vote on independence in a matter of weeks, Morad is making her voice heard outside of the concert hall.
“For me as a humanitarian activist working in the camps in such an unstable region, I am worried about my safety, the safety of the Green Kids children that I work, the safety of my family and everyone in this region,” she explained. “So what happens? Who will guarantee us that not another ISIS will take away our brothers and sisters and use them as sex slaves? Who will guarantee us of this?”
“Creativity demands freedom,” she said. “The Kurds cannot flourish while we live under the shadow of other nations.
Her newest song, 'Her Beji', is inspired by the words of what she considers to be the greatest poet, Abdullah Goran, who continues to guide the Kurdish people.
"My tongue bloomed with your beautiful speech,” he wrote.
“He gave me the confidence to create art for our people. I wish to nurture the Kurdish soul through music,” Morad said of her inspiration.
Morad realizes she is fortunate for the opportunities that have been availed to her. She says she has faced criticism and bullying for expressing herself through her art, but she still believes further freedom is what Kurds ultimately strive to achieve.
“I support independence as a woman, because every day the Peshmerga inspire me with their struggle — I am humbled by their sacrifice and dedicated to their cause,” she said. “In a region of authoritarian and religious regimes, only the Kurds have carved out a place in which women can thrive.”
The highest-ranking female member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, a journalist-turned-diplomat, recently has encouraged Kurds around the world in diaspora to make their voices heard ahead of the September 25 referendum on independence.
“Why do I support independence?” Morad posited. “In brief, because my Kurdish soul cries out for freedom.”