From Horror to Hope
Sep 10, 2012Siham Amedy '13 knows the stories of genocide are painful. But she also knows that they need to be told.
"Placing blame on a people, religion or race ends in people doing terrible things," she says. "People need to know what's happened and what's happening."
Amedy will share some of her experiences as a part of Concordia's Faith, Reason and World Affairs Symposium. This year's theme is "Beyond Genocide: Learning to Help and Hope."
The Concordia senior knows genocide's effects firsthand. Her family fled Iraq when she was 6 years old. They were granted asylum in the U.S.because they are Kurdish, and her father was working for UNICEF – two strikes against them during the regime of Saddam Hussein.
"One of our Kurdish sayings is, 'We don't have neighbors. We have mountains,'" she says. "Our neighbor countries on all sides hated us."
The Kurdish people of northern Iraq, also known as Kurdistan, were the victims of a 1988 genocide campaign led by Hussein.Chemical warfare was used against them and land mines were planted in many villages. The land mines continue to haunt the Kurdish people – preventing them from using their land and causing them to live in fear during their daily life.
Even as a little girl, genocide affected Amedy. She remembers skull and crossbones signs in her grandparents' village warning that danger lay ahead and wondering why.
"I remember seeing people walking around with legs amputated and watching kids being killed on the way to school," Amedy says.
Amedy is leading a concurrent session on Wednesday, Sept. 12, centered on land mines and chemical warfare.
One thing she wished people understood about genocide is that its effects endure much longer than the horrific events themselves.
"When something traumatic happens, it isn't restricted to a day, a month or even a year," she says. "Because of Saddam Hussein's regime, my parents were unable to get an education. They had to work to try to provide for family. Genocide still affects them to this day."
In spite of the horrors she has witnessed, Amedy is committed to hope. She volunteers with a local nonprofit, the Kurdish Community for America, which helps those coming to the U.S. from the Middle East. She is also the tutoring program coordinator for Madison Elementary School as a part of Campus Service Commission and volunteers with Intercultural Affairs.
The symposium, Sept. 11-12, will feature genocide survivors,human rights advocates, discussions on topics surrounding genocide, art and theatrical productions.