Orange County Register - Nov. 29, 2001
blood colors documentary
Review ~ A documentary shows Turkey's campaign,
abetted by the United States, against
By JOHN GITTELSOHN
The Orange County Register
The nation of Turkey is in the
news these days as the good guy in the
Islamic world, a base for U.S.
planes to attack Afghanistan and patrol
the skies over Iraq.
things are never simple in that part of the world. "Good
Kurds," a documentary airing tonight
at 8 on KCET/28, exposes U.S.
complicity in Turkey's oppression
of 15 million Kurds.
The premise of the documentary -
illustrated, in part, by the case of a
former University of California, Irvine, student
Turkish-Kurdish family - is that the difference between
a good Kurd
and a bad Kurd, as far as the U.S. government is concerned,
they come from.
In Iraq, armed Kurds are freedom
fighters, because they opposed
Saddam Hussein. But in Turkey, the documentary contends,
engaged in an armed struggle for their people are
terrorists, and the Turkish government has used
U.S.- made weapons
for a brutal campaign that verges on ethnic cleansing.
"Good Kurds, Bad Kurds" reports
that Turkey has killed 37,000 Kurds,
razed 3,500 villages and left 2
million Kurds without homes since
1990. It also shows how, in 1996, the anti-Kurd campaign
Orange County, where former UCI history major David Gunduz was tried
for passport fraud and student loan fraud, reportedly
at the request of
Gunduz admits he lived in Turkey
under the family name of Xulam but
used his relatives' name, Gunduz, to escape persecution
because of his
Kurdish family's anti-government activities.
He pleaded guilty to using a false
name on his U.S. passport but
received temporary U.S. asylum because a federal
judge believed he
faced persecution if returned to Turkey. The case is
"I'm living in limbo now," said
Gunduz, 32, who works in Washington,
D.C., as a real estate investor.
In 1997, six years after leaving
UCI, Gunduz was indicted for using a
same false name for his student loan -- a loan he
had faithfully repaid.
Kevin McKiernan, who made the documentary,
said Turkey and the U.S.
State Department raised the loan fraud charges to
asylum claims. The closest he gets to demonstrating
this assertion in
the documentary is footage from an Orange County deputy
attorney and an official from the California Department
conceding that they had never seen the State Department
intervene in a
student loan case before.
a free-lance journalist from Santa Barbara, became
interested in the plight of the Kurds in 1991, when
brutally crushed their uprising after the Persian
Much of the documentary is devoted
to the Gunduz family, which runs a
Maytag franchise in Santa Barbara.
The documentary follows the oldest
son, Kani Gunduz, to Washington, where his efforts to
seem as lonely as the old TV ads about a Maytag repairman
McKiernan traveled with Kurdish
rebels in Iraq and with a Turkish
military unit assigned to wipe
out the Kurdish resistance. At great
personal risk, he filmed burning
villages, nighttime raids and rebel
caravans on donkeyback through mountains. To this American
scenes look a lot like Afghanistan.
"Good Kurds, Bad Kurds" is
worth watching as a tribute to the
persistence of the Gunduz family,
their oppressed people and the
filmmaker, who stayed with this
project for nearly a decade. It covers
events before Sept. 11, which David
Gunduz said was fortunate for his
"We would have been lynched," he
said. "We would have had no chance of
going through the system."
Unfortunately, Sept. 11 also has
made it harder to pay attention to the
plight of the Kurds.