Tuesday 6 March 2018

"Peshmerga" film screened in US Congress

WASHINGTON, DC, USA (us.gov.krd) - An audience of nearly 250 people gathered in the US Congressional Visitors Center on Tuesday to watch the documentary Peshmerga and listen to a discussion with the film’s director, eminent French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.

The film, which follows the struggles and successes of Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS, has been screened around the world, although this was the first time such a film had been shown in the US Congress.

Mr Levy recalled that during the making of the film in 2015, “The only ones who were resisting ISIS, who were holding the line, were the Kurds.”

Kurdistan Regional Government Representative Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman opened the evening by welcoming Mr Levy, members and staff of Congress, US officials, the Kurdish community and others who attended. She highlighted the relevance of the film to discussions and bills in Congress: the changing nature of the fight against ISIS, the rise of militias in Iraq, the training and equipping of the Peshmerga and the protection of religious minorities.

Three members of Congress also delivered remarks:  Ralph Abraham, who is co-chair of the Kurdish-American Caucus, Chris Stewart, and Andre Carson.

Congressman Stewart, who served as a US Air Force pilot, said, “Kurdistan, and Kurdistan’s Peshmerga are some of the strongest and fiercest allies we have.” He added, “[The Counter-ISIS Coalition] wouldn't have been successful without the dedication of the Peshmerga.”

Congressman Abraham recalled his recent visit to Kurdistan. He said, “I was able to go to front line, and what I saw were young men, who have the hearts of lions.”

Congressman Carson said, “I salute you, the Peshmerga who fight each and every day against the beast that Isis has become.”

In the film, Mr Levy and his camera crew follow the Peshmerga along the 1,000-kilometer frontline against ISIS and witness firefights between them and the Peshmerga, Coalition airstrikes, and the the deaths, injuries and flight of civilians caused by the conflict.

A discussion moderated by Dr Bilal Wahab, a scholar at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, followed the screening. Mr Levy urged France, his country of birth, and the United States, his “country of my heart”, to protect and support Kurdistan, both in the war against ISIS and beyond. He said, “It is time to react, it is time to say ‘by defending the Kurds we are also defending ourselves’.”