London-based Kurd promotes Kurdistan's struggle with online series
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – London-based Kurd Hakar Mirza, known online as Iamhaks, is publishing a series on YouTube called ‘This is Kurdistan’ to get more recognition for Kurdistan among non-Kurds.
"I was fed up with seeing our beautiful country portrayed by American YouTubers as 'Iraq' just for some views. Yet, they haven't visited a single city in Iraq and safely walk around Kurdistan," he told Kurdistan 24.
"I believe it's a shame to all our martyrs who have fought to achieve the autonomous state we are in today for this to happen," he said. "This is why I began my first Kurdistan vlog 'This is Kurdistan' on YouTube with a big map of greater Kurdistan and explained that we are Kurds and we are from Kurdistan."
Mirza is a Kurd born in London to two Kurdish parents. His mother is from Afrin, and his father is from Sulaimani.
"They both met in Damascus," he said. "My father was a Peshmerga in the early '80s from a very young age against the Iraqi regime. He was then involved in helping the Kurdish cause through politics."
"My mother's family were from Afrin, but she was born and raised in the Kurdish neighborhood of Rukneddine in Damascus," he said. "My mother was also active in Damascus against the Syrian regime, attending protests against the oppression, especially in 1986 when the regime started shooting people during a major Newroz protest."
Mirza said he grew up hearing about their stories which "inspired me to continue the fight for my people in modern ways."
In his everyday life, he works as an accountant in London. He spends the rest of his time thinking up new ideas for the Kurdish community.
"I am a proud Kurd and an advocate for my country, and I hope to help the world understand Kurdistan, its beauty, and its struggles," he said.
So far, he has come to Kurdistan four times for lengthy visits.
"I came once as a child at the age of two and again in 2017, 2019, and 2021," Mirza said. "In 2021, I spent three months in Kurdistan and it was one of the best experiences of my life."
Mirza also supported the Kurdistan independence referendum on September 25, 2017, in which 92% voted in favor of an independent Kurdistan.
"The referendum gave us a political and democratic tool to call upon when the right time arrives," he said. "It also gave us the chance to voice our desire for an independent state."
"We should not underestimate the significance this will have on the future. Many other countries before have held referendums and not activated the results until many years later," he added. "However, due to the poisonous complexity of partisan politics within Kurdistan, it was used as a tool that pitted us against each other instead of a tool that could help us work together."
"Some will also say it was the wrong time. They've been telling us that for 100 years now. I think it's time we take things into our own hands."
Mirza also said the fight for Kurdish independence is something all Kurds should fight for.
"For me, that means even if I don't have the chance to see it with my own eyes, I'll do everything I can in the hope that my future children will," he said. "We owe it to those who really suffered for us and fought for the land."
Another one of his goals with his videos is to promote Kurdish unity among all four parts of Kurdistan.
"I want all Kurds to be proud of their culture, history, language, and land," he said. "And in doing so, I ensure the content is aimed at people from all over Kurdistan (Bashur, Bakur, Rojhelat, and Rojava)."
"I've rarely seen other Kurds do this, and I think it's an important factor in the long-term goals of Kurdistan," he added. "If Kurds from all four parts can come closer together and understand each other more, we will be stronger for the future."
Moreover, Mirza hopes to educate non-Kurds about Kurdistan to "teach them about who we are and where Kurdistan is."
He said this general knowledge is vital so that Kurds are recognized by people, even if governments refuse to do so. "I hope it'll also attract tourism into Kurdistan so that the people of the land can benefit from the things I do."
He said he already received messages from many people (Kurds and non-Kurds) about how his videos have led them to book trips to Kurdistan.
"Nothing makes me prouder than this. I have had messages from people across the world as far as South and North American and the Far East, and sometimes if I can, I try to stay in touch with them to help them with their trips once they are there."
"I see this as a way of doing something for the people, we can complain all day about politics, or we can all try to do one positive thing ourselves to help our own people,” he added. "I hope many local businesses can benefit from this."
Mirza also hopes that education through such videos can help foreign people understand the Kurdish people's situation and that more Kurds will follow his lead by using the internet to promote Kurdistan.
"We can get people's recognition and understanding through the powerful modern tool of the internet," he said.
"We can educate the new generation to teach others the difference, and this will aid Kurdistan's cause."