October 06, 2003

Lament

From the essay "Old and New Oral Traditions in Badinan" by Christine Allison in Kurdish Culture and Identity:

The women of Qosh Tepe, a collective farm near Erbil, were from the Barzani tribe. In the years following the collapse of Mullah Mustafa Barzani's rebellion in 1975 their villages in Barzan were destroyed, and the inhabitants were moved to settlements in the South of Iraq. Later, they were moved North again, to Qosh Tepe. In 1983, the Iraqi army came to Qosh Tepe and removed all males over the age of twelve, who have never been seen since. Not only did the women grieve for the loss of their fathers, brothers and sons, but their means of financial and social support were removed. There are stories that other Kurds secretly gave them food and money, but in general they were forced to do long hours of manual work for little pay, and many were apparently reduced to prostitution; the lack of men to protect them made them vulnerable to rape by members of the Iraqi armed and security forces; such cases, though surrounded by shame, have been reported.

I googled "Qosh Tepe" and got two hits, one of which seems to be a false positive. This one, which also mentions the Kurdish Jews, is worth reading. I can't help but wonder how many other Qosh Tepes have been perpetrated, leaving behind perhaps even less than a stray post on Yahoo and an academic's passing reference in an essay on oral traditons.

In the essay I quoted, the author explains that the lament that these survivors sing for the men of Qosh Tepe -- their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons -- departs from traditional Kurdish laments in that it not only mourns the victims, but the singers as well.

Posted by Ideofact at October 6, 2003 11:32 PM
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