Diliman Abdulkader: The Evolving Voice of Kurdish Activism

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With the experience of seven years as a Kurdish refugee in Syria, Diliman Abdulkader is determined to make an impact in global affairs.

Diliman Abdulkader, '16, Politics, Philosophy & EconomicsDiliman Abdulkader will soon move from Washington to the other Washington. The 24-year-old starts graduate school at American University in August. “DC is where I felt I could make an impact,” said Abdulkader.

Abdulkader is Kurdish and was born in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. He and his family fled the city during the first Persian Gulf War in the early 1990’s. Abdulkader’s parents and five children—Diliman was an infant at the time—trekked through Iran before arriving at a United Nations refugee camp in Syria where they lived for seven years.

The family of nine—Abdulkader’s two sisters were born in the camp—were eventually resettled in Nashville, Tennessee. “We wanted to go to the United States because of the opportunities available,” said Abdulkader. Diliman and his family moved to the Kent area about a year after arriving in the United States.

Abdulkader transferred to UW Tacoma from Green River College. The Politics, Philosophy & Economics major and Global Honors student chose American University because of its Global Kurdish Studies Program. “I want to advocate for greater Kurdish rights and to create a better relationship between Americans and Kurds,” said Abdulkader.

Global politics has always been part of Abdulkader’s life. While at UW Tacoma he served an internship with Congressman Derek Kilmer. He blogs and posts about Kurdish issues on Kurdish Voice. Diliman has also studied abroad in China and Italy, in part supported by a Benjamin A. Gillman International Scholarhip. During his return trip from Italy he stopped in Kurdistan to see his extended family. The terrorist group ISIS controls territory about twenty miles away. “I felt safe, I felt home,” said Abdulkader. “Our family is there, our history is there.”

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Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 2, 2016
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu