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Kurdish writer Chiman Salih claims that the era of great leaders who dedicated their policies to humanitarian issues is coming to an end. Instead, she explains, we are seeing leaders who ignore the suffering around the world, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, rise to power.

Kurdish voters

Kurdish voters Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

While the overwhelming majority of the Kurdistan people voted for independence in a dignified referendum, the results were reluctantly received around the world. A few days later, the Catalonia Region, which is located at the heart of Europe, had an independence vote and met the same fate.

Furthermore, both groups of people were punished after the votes. In Iraq, the revengeful policies that followed the vote have severely affected the Kurdistan people. These two events, in two different locations in the world, leave me to wonder about the sense of the freedom that is supposed to be a modern world value. In the past, the West used this value as an excuse to intervene in affairs around the world. Where are these Western leaders now?

I know well that the two cases had totally different circumstances, but the similarity in the world’s stance against both of them indicates an overturn in the world system. The problem is no longer having threatened and persecuted peoples living under a coercive rule that denies them freedom only in some regions like the Middle East. We are now seeing Western values such as the right to freedom being questioned around the world and the leaders of the free world are doing nothing about it.

In addition to the government and official attitudes, let’s speak about the people and elites. During Catalan referendum campaigns, I didn’t see Westerners demonstrating support for the Catalan people. In the case of Kurdistan, it’s worthy to mention that some Arab intellectuals behaved in a very humanitarian way and voiced their support for the Kurds, unlike their Western counterparts.

Of course, the world’s position on the Kurdish referendum made me sad and the attitude toward the Catalan only days later doubled my sadness. This is because the global stance on them has a direct impact on our nations, not to mention all the other threatened people in the world who also want to live in a country of their own. It appears that in the West, when people talk about freedom now, they are only referring to LGBT people and some sexual issues. The EU took a tough stance on the Polish government after it made contraception a prescription drug but avoided the Catalan issue.

I take it that the era of acceptance of despotism almost ended in the middle of the last century with a period of great world leaders. I don’t mean only heads of state but also officials who were involved in the decision-making processes in the influential states and international institutions in the West and the world. These leaders implemented more humanitarian politics.

But now, at this very moment, we are witnessing the end of that era and stepping into the era of meager politicians who ignore humanitarian issues.