With a population of 25 million spilling across the borders of Turkey,
Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union, the Kurds have maintained
their way of life for more than 2,000 years, despite attempts by various
empires and nation states to eradicate their culture, and, in many cases,
the Kurds themselves. Forbidden in Turkey to speak their own language,
to sing their own songs, even to call their children by Kurdish names,
the Kurds for generations have struggled to preserve their identity
and to foster their traditions. In the early nineties, the Kurds of
nearby Iraq found themselves suddenly supported in their old war for
independence against Baghdad, when their interests coincided with those
of Western powers fighting against Saddam Hussein. In the eyes of the
State Department, the happy coincidence transformed them into "good"
Kurds. In contrast, Kurds living across the border in Turkey, waging
a similar battle for survival, were regarded as "bad" in their uprising
against Turkey, a vital American ally with bases for U.S. war planes
attacking Iraq. McKiernan's film brings into sharp focus "a sliding
scale of U.S. human rights," a foreign policy with different rules for
different people. The film provides the perspectives of Turkish, U.S.
and European officials, as well as human rights representatives, and
it includes exclusive footage shot behind the lines of Kurdish guerrillas
in Iraq and Turkey.
Kevin McKiernan's first major story as a reporter was the armed takeover
of Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973 by the American Indian Movement.
From 1973-1976 McKiernan worked as a National Public Radio correspondent
for "All Things Considered," the NPR news program. He also worked as
a freelance writer for The New York Times, The Minneapolis Tribune and
other publications. In 1976, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for
photography of a 1975 gunfight that took the lives of two FBI agents
and one Indian. In 1990 McKiernan co-produced "The Spirit of Crazy Horse,"
an hour-long documentary for the PBS television series FRONTLINE. Since
1982, McKiernan's area of concentration has been foreign news. His reports
and pictures have appeared in Time, Newsweek, The Christian Science
Monitor, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, U.S. News and World Report,
The Los Angeles Times, "NBC Nightly News," "CBS Evening News," "20/20,"
and "60 Minutes."
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