Through peaceful protest, two metro women trying to make difference in Kurdistan

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two women in the metro are trying to make a difference from half a world away.

They’re holding a peaceful protest in Kansas City this weekend hoping to be a voice for the innocent in the Middle East, people who they say are asking for America’s help.

“We’re very grateful for America. We’re still here, our lives are still intact here,” Hero Oakes said. “We can eat breakfast in the morning and not worry about dying.”

Oakes and Sozan Ali are from Kurdistan Iran and Iraq, respectively. Ali and her family fled to the United States during Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1996. Now, they live in Kansas City.

But as Turkey pushes south their hearts are with northern Syria.

“So what’s really happening is in Qamishli,” Ali said, “advances are coming in from the north.”

Ali said they’re having to either protect their homes or flee as Turkey invades Syria. Oakes said they are killing Kurdish people.

“These are kids, moms holding their dead corpses and crying, saying, ‘What did we do wrong? What did we do?'” Oakes said. “They didn’t do anything wrong except speak their native tongue, speak their mothers’ tongue, speak Kurdish.”

A monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said at least 282 fighters have died in the first week of the conflict with slightly more casualties among the Kurdish fighters.

Oakes and Ali want the violence to end.

“Turkey needs to back off. Turkey needs to step aside,” Oakes said. “I think Trump needs to say you need to get out of there.”

The U.S. is withdrawing troops from the region. On Monday, President Donald Trump said he would apply harsh sanctions on certain Turkish officials.

Oakes and Ali said that’s not enough.

“Sit down and impose an immediate ceasefire. Whatever it’s going to take, we need a ceasefire,” Ali said. “No one deserves to be attacked this way.”

“This isn’t a cultural issue; this is humanity,” Oakes said. “Everyone needs to step up as humans. This is not OK.”

The peaceful protest is Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. at the J.C. Nichols Fountain. Everyone is invited to join.

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