Friday, July 30, 2010

A Memorial to celebrate the life of Dr. Vera Saeedpour

Below is the report of KAES (Kurdish American Education Society) memorial for Dr. Vera saeedpour.

On July 25, 2010; Kurdish American Education Society (KAES) Memorial Committee organized a memorial celebration in honor of Dr.Vera Saeedpour, whom we consider the mother of Kurdish studies in the West. She is best known as an independent scholar who awakened the west to the reality of Kurdish life and culture. We were hoping to have a member of her family to attend this event to make it more memorable; hoping that they could travel from her home in New York. They were gracious enough to send us a message of sympathy and support. Indeed May 30, would be an important day for Kurds, particularly those of us in Diaspora, as we would gather to remember one of the greatest figures in the true representation of Kurds in the Western hemisphere.

The program began at 3 in silence as a PowerPoint presentation provided glimpses of Dr.Saeedpour’s life achievements and contributions to the Kurdish people. Then the President of KAES, Dr. Sharifi introduced by Mr. Ardishir Rashidi Kalhur, spoke about the life and legacy of Dr.Vera Saeedpour. She was described as a passionately committed social activist who enlightened the public on the plight and aspirations of the Kurdish people through her informative interviews, lectures, and writings in the mainstream media. As a scholar, she established the Kurdish Program that heralded the Kurdish library, the Kurdish Museum and the scholarly journals which in turn laid the ground for scholarly research on Kurdish issues on a variety of topics. Dr. Vera Saeedpour was described as the epitome of social responsibility and academic rigor. This scientific aspect and her humanism had combined in a dialectical synthesis to define her indefatigable struggle for the recognition and appreciation of Kurdish fundamental rights and freedoms. He concluded by stating that it is our intention to remember and revisit tһе true history and legacies left in our care, not just for the students of Kurdish history and culture but for the generations that follow in the future.

Mr.Ardishir Rashidi Kalhur highlighted Dr.Saeedpour’s enlightened consciousness about her Jewish roots and the way in which her rich tradition, culture, provided “compelling history and forces that shaped her character and motivated her to do what she has done for humanity, including Kurds and Kurdistan”. He described the union of Dr. Vera Saeedpour and her second husband, Homayoun Saeedpour not only the bond of friendship and companionship between two people, but also history of their own common heritage.” He retraced this common bond in the Biblical story of Abraham’s journey and saga, and spiritual comfort and revelation that he found in ancient Kurdistan in Harran before he moved on. He pointed to the fact that all monotheistic religions trace back their origins to Abraham, whose very name in Kurdish is Ur-Ayam, meaning Adam from Ur, a city in Kurdistan. Mr. Rashidi cited phonological similarities of words such as “Zion” in Hebrew and the Kurdish word “Zayen” denoting “birth and new beginning”; similarly he made references to the terms for “books” Ketawagan in Kurdish, and Ketuvim in Hebrew to further highlight this historical commonality. “He argued that Dr. Vera Saeedpour in her search for her Jewish roots had probably become familiar with these accounts and as a corollary, “her story was tightly intertwined and connected to the history and story of her husband, Homayoun.” He concluded by suggesting this common spiritual life or what Dr.Saeedpour had termed ‘a sadness …a sort of mystical sadness’, “the kind that had overtaken Abraham, and motivated him to change his life and the minds and hearts of the people of his time,” underlay their union.

After recitation of a poem entitled “In Memory of Vera Saeedpour, The Defender of the Kurdish People, by Dr.Sharifi the audience was called upon to share their sentiments and thoughts about Dr.Vera Saeedpour The vice president of KAES, Mr. Hiwa Nezhadian spoke of the deep respect that Kurds have for a woman who during the most difficult times had the courage and political insight to come to the defense of a forsaken people. In his own words “ An American lady who had no knowledge of a people thousands of miles away dedicated her life in gathering artifacts, books and literatures, historical documents and alike after only 5 years of living with her Kurdish husband Mr. Houmayon Saeedpour requires high degree of respect.”He hoped that her legacy and work would continue not only in New York but all U.S major cities in our quest for “her dream of freedom and justice for Kurds.” The Kurdish artist, Sardar Zuhdi, recalled his visiting the Kurdish library and how Dr. Vera Saeedpour’s cozy library had made him feel at home. He played a Kurdish tune on his harmonica, one of Vera’s favorite songs “Baran, Baraneh”, which he had played for her once in his trip to New York. Dr. Kamal Artin, one of the KAES members recalled speaking to Dr. Saeedpour; he described her euphoric style of talking about Kurdish issues. He then read an article in which he argued that those who have experienced or witnessed on a personal, social, cultural or historical level psychological traumas need empathy and guidance , and more importantly, these traumatized communities could provide psychotherapeutic help and support to one another. Marwan Nabo recounted meeting Dr.Vera Saeedpour in the Kurdish library in late 1981’s. He had found her to be a courageous and honest, her looks reminding him of his mother and her courage He added, “I then recalled the Kurdish saying that Kurds have no friends but the mountains to be all wrong as Dr. Vera Saeedpour was a firm friend of Kurds like a mountain. Her love and respect for Kurdish people was far beyond my expectations.” Finally Kurdish musicians. violinist Morad Daslik and pianist Fouad played a few tranquil and meditative Kurdish pieces as a tribute to the memory of Dr.Vera Saeedpour. The program ended with a court yard reception