MTSU professor gives voice to people of Kurdistan

Since the initial invasion of Iraq during the Gulf and Iraq wars, many Americans have personally known someone who was directly affected by the wars in the Middle East.

Kirmanj Gundi’s mother surveys the ruins of a village where her relatives lived.

Kirmanj Gundi’s mother surveys the ruins of a village where her relatives lived. The village was destroyed by Saddam Hussein’s regime as part of a campaign to depopulate the region of Kurdish civilians and destroy their farmlands.

Yet, this country often forgets the main reason the U.S. went over to fight in the first place, according to Clare Bratten, associate professor in the Department of Electronic Media Communication. Thus, she produced and directed a documentary to give a voice to the people of Kurdistan, who suffered under the regime of Saddam Hussein for decades.

That film, More than the Mountains, was part of the Southern Appalachian International Film Festival and was also screened at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville as part of Nashville’s Global Educational Centre’s programming.

More than the Mountains follows Tennessee State University Professor Kirmanj Gundi as he returns to Kurdistan after fleeing with his brother 30 years before. With the help of Gundi, Bratten documents the struggles of the Kurd people under Ba’athist rule. “Since I opposed the unilateral attack on Iraq, I wanted to understand the war from the point of view of Kurdistan’s people,” Bratten explained.

More than the Mountains was filmed during two separate trips – one in 2005, shortly after the start of the Iraq War, and another in 2008, to see how the people of Kurdistan have begun to rebuild.

During the 2005 trip, Bratten and Gundi documented the struggles that have been going on for years. The Kurds had endured destruction, imprisonment and genocide as government tools to try to force them to leave the area. The later trip continued that mission, plus documented the effect of the U.S. invasion.

Many of those who fled their homes ended up much closer to Middle Tennessee than some realize. Nashville has the largest Kurd population in the nation, with approximately 11,000 Kurdish-born residents in 2009. TLE

Story by Jane Horne

Photos by Clare Bratton

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Categories: Faculty, News

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