Danielle Mitterrand died on November 22, 2011. Ten years later, the Kurds of Albi have not forgotten the one who saved their lives after the chemical bombings of Saddam Hussein on Iraqi Kurdistan, bombings which had killed 182,000 in six months in 1988.
Zoubeyr Mahy, owner of a mini-market in Albi and today president of the Franco-Kurdish association of Occitanie, is surprised that France has not honored the memory of Danielle Mitterrand more that, on November 22. That day, in Iraqi Kurdistan, “the Kurdish deputies respected a minute of silence and several wreaths were laid”, in memory of “the mother of the Kurds”, who died just 10 years ago. So, while waiting for the ceremony scheduled for Saturday, November 27 in Cluny, Burgundy, Zoubeyr made a point of honoring the one he had welcomed at his home in the spring of 2001, for the 10 years of the Franco-Kurdish association of Albi.
“The first time I met her was 1989, at the Mardin camp, for which I was responsible, in Turkey. We were 18,000 living in tents, in this 1km2 camp surrounded by barbed wire. We had fled the chemical bombardments of Saddam Hussein who sought to exterminate us while the Turks left us to starve. We were losing 4 to 10 children a day. But the West said nothing because Turkey was their ally and Saddam had just beaten Iran. The Kurds were of no interest to anyone except Danielle Mitterrand. Danielle Mitterrand who had helped the Kurdish Institute in Paris since its creation in 1983. She is the only one who came to our aid. After her visit to Mardin and two other camps, she convinced François to welcome 1,000 Kurdish refugees in France. The first 345 arrived in August 1989, then it was done in groups of 50. We, in 1991, were the last. That year, she also played a role in France’s choice to defend resolution 688 at the UN which created a no fly zone for Saddam’s planes over Kurdistan. This is why she is considered the mother of the Kurds. She saved us.
When she came to have breakfast with us in Albi, for the association’s 10th anniversary, that’s exactly what I felt. Her gaze on me was the gaze of a mother. Thanks to her, thousands of young Kurds were able to become engineers, doctors, lawyers … Just as she saved a lot of people in Latin America by taking an interest in the problem of water. This great lady, somewhere, is a heroine. It is unfortunate that a country is not more proud than that to have such a person in its history. It is not a political question to celebrate it. No one is asking a political question when celebrating General de Gaulle, who saved France. In any case, for the Kurds, Danielle Mitterrand has made history. That of good people who have done a lot for humanity. It is a huge personality who gave his name to avenues, squares, cinemas and schools in Kurdistan. We will never forget it. And France must not forget that either. ”
That day in May 2001, Danielle Mitterrand had simply concluded before having a drink of friendship with her hosts: “We save a life and we save the world. I don’t pretend to save the world. I just saved a few lives. “