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Archive for March, 2010

Hasan Kako Osman, a Sindi Kurd voting in Nashville.

Saturday finally brought spring to Nashville, and with it, an election day.   It was the 2nd day of voting in the Iraqi Out-of-Country Voting taking place in various cities across the US this past weekend.  Due to the large Kurdish population in Nashville, it was chosen as a site this election and back in the first election in 2005 as well.

Most of the voters were from Nashville like Hasan Kako Osman, a Sindi Kurd who smiled and raised his finger for a pic.  He was very happy with the elections.

He said “I am very hopeful for the Kurdish people and the results of this election.”

Because Nashville was the only designated city in all of the southeast, some people came far to vote.  Two 54 passenger buses came from Atlanta, Georgia and two cars full of voters caravaned from Jacksonville, Florida overnight to get to Nashville Saturday to vote.

Many voters chose to wear ethnic clothing to vote.  And some even chose to make special clothes for the occasion, donning tshirts with their political parties symbol and number.

Iraqi Ballot

But even with all the people that did vote, Iraq actually had a record turnout of 62 percent, some didn’t get the chance to vote due to lack of proper ID and/or lack or preregistering to vote.  During and after the voting, reports came from Iraq of people being turned away from the polling sites due to such issues.

Same things happened here, and voting almost didn’t happen for Remziya Suleyman, a Kurd from Duhok who now lives in Nashville.  She didn’t have the ID needed to vote.    But at the last moment her father found his and she was allowed to go vote with him.

“My dad found his Iraqi id I’m gonna go vote! lol even though his name is spelled incorrect were gonna go vote! This should be interesting!,” Suleyman posted to Facebook on her way to the polls.

Suleyman participated in this election and the 2005 elections.  And while the voting facilities were less intimidating and better suited the voting, there were still issues that came up.

Lack of publicity of the out of country elections for one.

“I only found out that the elections were happening two weeks before,”said Suleyman.

And lack of publicity in English for the voters who grew up here for two.

“All of us Iraqi’s who grew up here and aren’t fluent in reading and writing our native language, there should have been more things publicized in English.  This even was an issue when I went to vote.  I needed my dad to come with me to read the ballot!, ” said Suleyman.

But overall her experience was a good one.  She went with her extended family to vote.  She said it was very moving.  Especially as she drove up and saw the Kurdish flag flying at the polls.  Knowing a decade ago that such a thing would have never been possible.

Suleyman’s mother was especially moved by the voting experience.  Later talking about what this day meant.  It was in memory of all the struggles, pain, and sorrow the Kurdish people had gone thru just to BE Kurdish. It was empowering to a people who had too long been oppressed by others.

Another Kurdish woman expressed similar views.  She even joked that if her family didn’t vote that she wouldn’t talk to them.

“We have waited for this day.  A day where we could wave our purple fingers in the face of those who oppressed us.  A day when the Kurdish voice would be heard and not silenced!”


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