Kurdish Families In Utah React To Conflict, Rally For Support

Oct 11, 2019, 7:09 PM | Updated: 10:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As the Turkish invasion of Syria intensifies and the Kurdish people are chased from their homes, Kurds living in Utah said they are horrified and fearful for their loved ones.

“This conflict is affecting emotionally and psychologically Kurds around the world,” said Kamal Bewar, a leader in the Kurdish Community of Utah. “I’m angry. I’m mad. I’m sad. I can’t describe it sometimes.”

Around 70 to 80 Kurdish families live in the Salt Lake area, according to Bewar. They said they feel betrayed by America, their ally in the battle against ISIS, and that they cannot comprehend what is playing out in their homeland.

President Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria and essentially greenlight the Turkish invasion was incomprehensible to the Kurds and many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

On Saturday, Kurds in Utah and their supporters will rally at the Salt Lake City Library at noon.

“It hurts. It’s just like a betrayal from your closest friend,” Bewar said. “It hurts especially because I totally believe in this country and I totally believe in loyalty.”

Bewar fled Iraq 26 years ago, run out by the brutality of Saddam Hussein. He went back to Iraq as a translator for American troops 15 years ago. Back here in Utah, he is a guidance counselor at Salt Lake Community College for refugee and immigrant students.

“I’m always fearful for my family,” he said.

Bewar said he lost two brothers and a cousin who fought alongside U.S. troops.

“We’ve been fighting alongside you, shed blood with you,” Bewar said. “We lost 11,000-plus people during the last five years.”

He keeps in close contact with his remaining brothers and sisters as they fear the arrival of Turkish troops 100 miles from their homes.

“People are devastated and shocked,” he said.

Bewar said he fears the Kurdish people will be wiped out.

“This time, the whole world sees it,” he said.

The Turkish-Kurdish conflict has been going on for more than 40 years and both sides are American allies. Kurds fought alongside U.S. troops to beat back ISIS in recent years. Now, Turkish troops have chased Kurds from their homes and left Kurds here in Utah fearful for relatives and psychologically demoralized.

Bewar said the Kurds have always been without friends in their region. The Turks have never been their friends.

“We have a saying: we have no friends, only mountains,” said the Kurdish American.

But he never wanted to believe that, especially after the Americans became such good allies. He hopes to feel that friendship and support Saturday at the rally.

“I have so many American friends,” Bewar said. “They’re shouldering with me, and they’re with me side-by-side.”

He said he’s hopeful Congress will reverse the decision made by the president.

“Push Turkey to stop this invasion, and Europe do something as well,” Bewar said.

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Kurdish Families In Utah React To Conflict, Rally For Support