"Support Kurdistan" rally brings thousands to downtown Nashville

"Support Kurdistan" rally brings thousands to downtown Nashville (Fox 17 News)

Thousands of people gather in downtown Nashville on Wednesday to "Support Kurdistan."

About 2,000 to 3,000 people held signs and yelling chants of 'We Want Freedom' and 'Long Live Kurdistan' in front of the federal courthouse around noon. The local Kurdish community is protesting the Iraqi Government and asking for support of Kurdish independence.

In September, Kurds who are part of Iraq held a symbolic vote or referendum for Kurdish Independence. They hoped this would help start negotiations with Iraq to establish an independent state. The plan backfired and Iraqi forces moved into Kurdish territory in the city of Kirkuk, a big oil producer.

"It's tough to see what your parents have been through and the struggles that they're passing on to us being first generation Kurdish Americans here," Ryber Ali said. "We're seeing sort of the same thing recycled a fact that my parents were going through but today also."

Music City the largest Kurdish community in the United States. Around 20,000 Kurdish people live in Nashville, many of whom fled genocide under Saddam Hussein.

Ryber's father Gazi Ali is one of thousands of refugees who settled in Nashville to escape Saddam Hussein's brutal regime in the 1970's.

"Right now when we ask for our rights, even our best friend who we fight for, they left us behind," Gazi Ali said. "I hope they change their mind."

Sara Hamawandi, a first generation Kurdish American, said Iraqi forces are brutalizing Kurds after they held a symbolic vote to establish independence from Iraq last month.

"This really hits home," ," said Hamawandi said. "We came when I was six. As refugees, my whole family came. We ran from Saddam. He was killing the Kurds, committing genocide so right now somebody is doing the same thing using U.S. weapons to kill Kurds. It's like we're going back in time really. Sad because my parents say it's like flashbacks to them."

Ali said what he wants is simple.

"We want to be recognized as a free country as an independent country," Ali said.

It's a goal Kurds say they can't reach alone. Kurdish people say they’ve been loyal to the U.S. and want the Trump administration to support them against the Iraqi led forces attacking their people.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off