IRAQ REFLECTION: Kirkuk, a capital of culture or martyrs


10 January 2011
IRAQ REFLECTION: Kirkuk, a capital of culture or martyrs
by Chihchun Yuan

The photograph showed branches of trees spreading the green to every corner.
The green alongside the road or in the garden of people’s house could almost
touch the passersby.  It bore the
caption, “Kirkuk before 2003”.

“ Do you know Kirkuk is the capital of culture? ” Awezan
asked us.

In photos taken after 2003, we saw large posters of martyrs carelessly
displayed, instead of in manner likely to gain the respect of observers.  “ We are the city of martyrs,” she said.

Awezan said the political parties are competing to make posters of martyrs and
putting them in every visible place; competing to name the streets with their
martyrs’ names; therefore some streets have more than one name on their signs.  None of the parties seem to see the
streets need to be cleaned; that green trees need to be planted.  That the city needs living souls.

From following the media, and doing an informal statistical
analysis, I gauge that almost one explosion a day occurs in Kirkuk.  I hear from people that political
parties’ conflicts result in the casualties of ordinary people.  Maybe Kirkuk is gradually becoming a
city that honors death but forgets life.

“I want to call more young people to go to street to clean our environment,”
said Shnow, a young student in university.  “Our civilization has lost in the wars…The first step is
picking up the garbage on the street. ”

“ I hope art, music and poetry will be more visible in this city…. I want to do
something, ” an artist told us.

If the soul of the city comes back, if the political powers stop destroying the
lives here, it will be because of the deep reflections from the people in


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