I am a Kurdistan correspondent and Turkey expert. In May 2018, I have published my second book about the Kurdish issue. The first – The Boys Are Dead – was about the Roboski massacre. This brand new one – This Fire Never Dies – is about the PKK. For my research, I stayed a full year in the mountain camps and at military bases of the Kurdish armed movement in Iraq and Syria.
For book promotion purposes, I am now in my home country The Netherlands. Later in the summer of 2018, I intend to move to Suleymanya, the second city of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, to continue my work as a journalist.
Between 2006 and summer 2012 I worked as a freelance correspondent in Istanbul. Then I decided to move my office to Diyarbakir, the symbolic capital of the Kurds. While reporting on the renewed war between the PKK and the Turkish army in the rural areas of Yüksekova, early in September 2015, I was detained by the Turkish police, kept in jail for three days and subsequently expelled from Turkey. My journalistic work was considered a threat to public security, order and health.
I myself see things differently. I think it is crucial that the story of the Kurds is being told from their own perspective. They may lack an official country, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are a nation of forty million souls that has re-invented and strengthened itself over the last couple of decades. They now not only play an important role in defining the futures of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran, but in shaping the future of the Middle-East as a whole as well. The Kurds matter. Their stories matter.
One day, I will return to Diyarbakir and the wider region, where I left my heart. Meanwhile, I will continue to report with my feet in the mud from the parts of Kurdistan that are within reach: the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, and Rojava, the lands of the Syrian Kurds.
Rojhelat, the area inside in Iran, is on my wish list. Also, the Kurdish diaspora in Europe has my journalistic attention.
Writing is my main craft, but my radio skills shouldn’t be underestimated either. My lectures are informative, compelling and inspirational – or so my audiences keep telling me. My opinions are always sharp, but never without solid reasoning.