The Kurdish Project interviewed Mr. Rekawt Rashid, a lawyer in Iraqi Kurdistan. Mr. Rashid works with Kurdish youth in a variety of capacities, including representing young men and women of the Kurdish Peshmerga in court, and educating Kurdish youth on gender and social equality.
Interview with Rekawt Rashid, A Lawyer in Kurdistan
The Kurdish Project: Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Rashid. Could you first tell us a bit about your work and your background?
Rekawt Rashid: First, let me thank the Kurdish Project for speaking with me. I am originally from Kirkuk, a city in Iraqi Kurdistan. I studied law and graduated from Kirkuk University.
I currently work in two different jobs. I am a member of the Kurdistan Youth Freedom Organization, a organization that serves youth in Kurdistan.
I am also a member of the Iraqi Bar Association, and I work as a trial lawyer representing individuals in court.
TKP: Can you tell us more about how you serve the youth of Kurdistan?
RR: Of course. In the framework of the Kurdistan Youth Freedom Organization, I work directly with young people, helping educate them on social issues. I received a teaching certification on Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Resolution from the Norwegian People’s Aid, an organization pushing for democratic and social change in Iraq.
As a lawyer, I founded a group called the Peshmerga Lawyer Group. We represent Peshmerga members in court, free of charge. Most of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces I work with are young men and women.
TKP: What are some of the biggest problems facing Kurdistan?
RR: We, in Kurdistan, are amidst a great economic crisis, which has caused many problems for our people.
The Kurdish public is very concerned that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) does not have a comprehensive plan for solving the economic problems in our region.
Many are concerned about revenue in the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the lack of transparency has led to a fear of government corruption.
Today, unfortunately, there are conflicts among Kurdish political parties, which is deepening the social and economic problems even more.
The political situation in Kurdistan has only gotten worse, and has reached a point where the KRG’s ruling party prevented the president of the KRG Parliament (an opposition member) from entering Erbil, and even dismissed some of opposition ministers from the government. This has made many Kurds upset.
TKP: What are the problems facing the youth of Kurdistan?
RR: Many young people in Kurdistan are worried about the war against ISIS. Many young men and women have gone to fight, but have never returned. People are also worried that after the conflict with ISIS ends, the conflict between the KRG and the Iraqi Government will flare up.
At the regional level, Kurdish youth still face problems like unemployment, social injustice and neglect by the government. For these reasons, we see many young Kurds emigrating from Kurdistan to Western countries.
TKP: How can the U.S. government help Kurdistan?
RR: In Kurdistan, we still remember when, in 2003, the U.S. government liberated our people from one of the worst authoritarian regimes in the world — Saddam’s Ba’athist regime.
Today, the U.S. government and its coalition of countries are supporting Kurdistan in fighting ISIS. They have also helped us with humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDPs who have come to our region.
However, Kurdistan has many other issues, and needs more help and more support from the United States at a regional level.
The internal political state of Kurdistan is very bad, and the strenuous relationship among Kurdish political parties may end the democratic experiment in our region.
We are hoping that the U.S. government can help and support our fledgling democracy in order to find good and quick solutions to our problems.
TKP: How can individual Americans help Kurds?
RR: We really need the support of every individual American to help us overcome the threat of ISIS, and to solve our political and democratic problems.
We also want to take advantage of the American democratic example to set a model for how we should develop Kurdish community.
To do this, Americans can encourage civil society organizations in the US to bring more projects to Kurdistan, like humanitarian, cultural, and democracy-building projects.