TORONTO (Kurdistan 24) – “I stand with the Kurdish people as a friend, and I hope that they will receive the respect that they deserve everywhere in this world,” Tom Rakocevic, a Canadian MPP, said following a Kurdistan flag raising ceremony on Saturday.
Rakocevic, a Member of the Provincial Parliament for the Ontario New Democratic Party, told Kurdistan 24 he was “very proud” to participate in the first raising of the Kurdistan flag in Canadian-Kurdish history.
The auspicious event was held at Toronto’s City Hall to honor the victims of the 1988 Halabja genocide, a brutal massacre committed by the former Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein which killed nearly 5,000 people and injured 10,000 more.
The MPP lamented the bitter-sweet occasion during a “time that we remember thousands massacred in Halabja many, many years ago.”
“There are many, many Kurdish families that are living here [in Canada] in a freedom of culture and expression that they don’t seem to have in many other places in the world,” Rakocevic noted, adding the Kurdish people have faced suppression and oppression for thousands of years.
“It is an old culture, one that spans thousands of years but it has always faced adversity.”
Through vigorous efforts from Toronto City Councillor Jim Karygiannis and members of the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, a proposal to raise the Kurdistan flag at City Hall was approved to turn the Canadian Kurdish community’s dream into a reality.
During a speech at the flag-raising ceremony, Rakocevic congratulated the Kurdish community for achieving this “milestone.”
“May this flag be raised many times in the future,” he stated, “and may you find the freedom and respect that you deserve because you are a great nation of people who have thousands of years of history.”
The Kurdistan flag will remain raised at Toronto City Hall until noon local time on Sunday.