FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

An Open Letter to Paulo Coelho

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

—Voltaire

Dear Mr. Coelho,

You are hot news in Kurdistan—among our literati so to speak.

But we can’t yet award you any literary prize for honoring our homeland and its hapless children in your novel, Eleven Minutes.

Perhaps we should.

We genuinely thank you for publicly exposing Brazil for supplying Turkey with tear gas canisters that have brutalized our children seeking basic human rights.

You have come to our current conversation via our Turkish neighbors who apparently love your books as we do, but can’t fathom the fixation of Maria, Eleven Minutes’ protagonist, with such words as Kurds and Kurdistan.

They have arbitrarily corrected you and her—making Maria speak as Turks do—so when she discovers that the Kurds are from Kurdistan, they have her say, in Turkish, that we are from the “Middle East.”

Yes, Turks are a funny people, Mr. Coelho—believing they can bury entire countries like Kurdistan, the way we entomb dead people.

They have, alas, never heard of the time-tested observation of Dr. King: “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

Two Kurds, Murad Dildar and Jehat Kilic, discovered the oddity between the English and Turkish translations of your novel.

They alerted the Kurds who had read your book of Maria’s long-buried little-known secret that the Kurds were not from the “Middle East,” but a country of their own: Kurdistan.

Thus, for fifteen years—since the publication of your novel in Turkey, millions of Turks were not exposed to the observation of Maria about the reality of Kurdistan in your work.

The translator of your novel, Saadet Ozen, says she can’t recall the passage about the homeland of Kurds and thinks it was censored after her submission to the printing house.

The printing house owner, Can Oz, doesn’t know why Kurdistan was deleted either, but has offered to recall the unsold books from the bookstores and publish a new version with the censored word intact, all nine letters … the way you had it in your book.

You and readers of this open letter may think this is very good news, that Turks are no longer afraid of the word, Kurdistan, but the news from Trabzon, a Turkish province, is completely the opposite.

On Thursday, a group of Kurdish tourists were on the shores of its Uzungol—meaning long-lake in Turkish, peacefully enjoying the views and taking pictures.

But one of them made the unforgivable mistake of apparently posing with a Kurdish scarf—with Kurdish colors and the word “Kurdistan.”

That infuriated a brutish Turkish mob, which violently beat the unsuspecting Kurds forcing them to flee for their lives.

Fortunately, the Turkish police were nearby and saved them from lynching, but they were still arrested and deported to neighboring Iraq. The assailants, yes, it is hard to believe this, were left alone and free!

Kurds and Kurdistan remain in the crosshairs of many in the Middle East even though we look forward to seeing the name of our homeland in your work.

Some Kurds, you may not be aware of it, have sent you tweets alerting you to the blatant racism of Turks hoping you would weigh in on the obscene Turkish censorship of your work with a tweet or statement of your own.

Alas, you have not taken a position so far.

I am writing this open letter to you in hopes of remedying the situation. Please Mr. Coelho, go to your Twitter feed and say something worthy of your friend Shimon Peres, the late president of Israel.

He was, as you know, a good friend of our people and you are affiliated with his Peres Center for Peace. Mr. Peres urged President Obama to support Kurdish statehood the way President Truman had given a helping hand to the state of Israel at its birth.

Unfortunately, the American president—whose own children are the descendants of slaves—couldn’t be bothered with the emancipation of Kurds and liberation of our homeland.

But you, Mr. Coelho, with your gift of crafting the best-selling novels in the world—selling 350 million books thus far—may want to consider embracing our quest for freedom in your next work of fiction.

It could perhaps highlight the challenge of transforming the Middle East from the epicenter of beheadings to a place worthy of its glorious beginnings where freedom is welcomed and everyone enjoys basic human liberties!

Will you?

You would be honoring your readers, including Kurds, your friend Shimon Peres, your protagonist Maria and the beautiful baritone singer of human rights, Dr. King.

Please, Mr. Coelho, help the crushed truth about the Kurds and Kurdistan rise to its feet in spite of those who would like to bury it six feet under.

It will add luster to your name and halt the rivers of blood that Kurdish patriots have shed to reclaim their ancient homeland for their children.

I remain truly yours,

Kani Xulam

More articles by:

Kani Xulam is a political activist based in Washington D.C. He runs the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN). 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 23, 2019
Kshama Sawant
Amazon vs. the Socialists in Seattle
Jason Hirthler
American Iago: On Washington’s Character Assassins
Craig Collins
Naomi Klein, Autism and Climate Activism
Michael Welton
The Serpent of Their Agonies
Binoy Kampmark
Strong Men in Europe: Tony Abbott Visits Hungary
Amitai Ben-Abba
And in Those Days There was No King in Israhell
Phil Rockstroh
A Careless Bully at the KFC at the End of Empire
Emiliana Cruz
Commemorating Tomás Cruz
Julian Vigo
Legacy College Admissions Are a Testament to What is Legacy Culture
Manuel García, Jr.
See “Official Secrets”
Dave Lindorff
Faux ‘Working Man’s’ Candidate Biden Looking Like a Loser after Philly AFL-CIO Presidential Summit
Tracey Aikman
President Trump, I’m One of the Workers You Lied To
B. R. Gowani
How news media should handle Trump’s lies
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail