Kurdish officials attend the unveiling of a statue in Mexico of Mohamed Pasha Jaff. Photo: Hanna Jaff.
BARCELONA, Spain – Mexico and Kurdistan are far apart geographically, but the love of a Kurdish pasha from the 1700s for this Latin-American land lives on: His great-great granddaughter, now a Mexican politician who is promoting ties with Erbil, unveiled a statue to Mohammed Pasha Jaff near the capital on Saturday.
“Mohamed Pasha Jaff was an admirer of Mexico and America. He sent an English explorer to America and they used to exchange letters and he was always interested in this part of the world,” said Hanna Jaff, who is the deputy secretary for migration at the Mexican ruling party, PRI, and the Honorary Representative of Garmiyan in Latin America.
The statue of the pasha, who was born in 1714 and was the leader of the Jaff tribe in the Zagros area, was unveiled at the Cultural Center of Tlalpan, 27 kilometers from Mexico City, together with an exhibition of Kurdish gastronomy, culture, economy and costumes.
Mohamed Pasha also left a cultural legacy back in Kurdistan: In 1734 he built the Sherwana castle in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Kalar, which now houses the Garmiyan museum.
The overseas tribute to Mohamed Pasha took place during the visit of a Kurdish delegation, which is in Mexico to strengthen commercial and cultural relations.
Included in the delegation was Karwan Zebari, a director at the KRG’s Washington DC office. The Kurdish team met with the ministers of tourism and social development and officials from the ministries of energy and foreign affairs.
The visit was organized by 27-year-old Hanna Jaff, who is from a Kurdish father and Mexican mother. She was brought up in the United States and was educated at Harvard and Columbia, two of America’s top universities.
“It is a great opportunity to show Kurdistan as a land of freedom, of incomparable wealth, of warm and peaceful people that intends to raise awareness on the use of chemical weapons, in order that these negative events won't be repeated anymore by future generations,” said Jaff, who is also president and founder of the Jaff Foundation for Education.
This month, on the anniversary of the March 16, 1988 poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein’s regime on the Kurdish town of Halabja, she has convinced authorities to reserve a place for the Kurds in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance in the Mexican capital.
The museum is dedicated to genocides throughout the world. Some 5,000 innocent Kurds were killed in the Halabja attack.
“We have approval to display the exhibition, with possibilities of making it a permanent exhibition,” said Jaff, in an email exchange with Rudaw.
The Kurdish delegation also met directors of the beauty pageant Miss Earth and discussed the possibility of Kurdistan participating in the event this year.
“My family also was part of the history of Kurdistan and fought for its independence, and fought for the people and helped them to go forward” Jaff was quoted as saying in the Mexican media.