KNCNA 17th Annual Conference:Kurdish Independence, Democracy and Regional Stability

Kurdish National Congress of North America

17th Annual Conference

Kurdish Independence, Democracy and Regional Stability

March 25-26, 2005 • The Millennium Maxwell House Hotel • Clay St. • Nashville, TN


Friday, March 25


noon    – 12:50 p.m.


12:50   – 1:10 p.m.


Mr. Buland Baban, Session Chair

Flag Raising Ceremony

Singing of the Kurdish National Anthem: Ay Raqib

Opening Remarks, Treasurers Report

1:10     – 2:30 p.m.

PANEL: Kurdish Organizations in Nashville

Mrs. Soraya Serajeddini, Session Chair

Mr. Saeed Chalky,            Kurdish Human Rights Watch

Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim,  Kurdistan Culture Institute

Mr. Tahir Hussain,           Nashville Kurdish Forum

Mr. Nabaz M. Khoshnaw, The Iraqi House of Nashville

Mr. Muhammed Kokoy,    Salahadeen Center of Nashville

2:30     – 2:45 p.m.

Guest Speaker

Dr. Kamal Artin, KAES President

A Psychiatric View on Individual vs. Society and The Role of Kurdish National Congress

2:45     – 3:30 p.m.

PANEL: Kurdish Youth

Mr. Shwan Karim, Session Chair

Mr. Goran Sadjadi

Ms. Shiluva Yassin

3:30     – 3:45 p.m.

Coffee Break


3:45     – 4:00 p.m.

4:00     – 4:05 p.m.

Guest Speakers

Dr. Kirmanj Gundi – Promoting Kurdish Diplomacy

Mr. Tahseen Atroshi, President of Kurdish Community Center, San Diego

4:05     – 5:35 p.m.

KNC Affairs / Open Session

Q&A Panel – KNC Board of Directors

5:30     – 7:30 p.m.

No Events Scheduled

7:30     – 9:00 p.m.

Kurdish Film: “Jiyan”

Presented by Kurdish American Youth

Saturday, March 26

8:00     – 9:00 a.m.


9:00     – 9:10 a.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Dr. Wafa Khorsheed, KNC Vice President

9:10     – 9:20 a.m.

Guest Speaker

Dr. Najmaldin Karim, WKI President

9:10     – 10:15 a.m.

Guest Speakers

Dr. Shafiq Qazzaz, KRG Minister of Humanitarian Affairs

Mr. Qubad Talabany, KRG, PUK US Rep.

Mr. Khalid Azizi, KDPI

Mr. Mehdi Zana, Former Mayor of Diyarbakir

10:15   – 10:25 a.m.

Guest Speaker

The Honorable Representative Jim Cooper, U.S. Congressman, 5th District of Tennessee

10:45   – 11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:25   – 10:45 a.m.

Presidential Address

Dr. Saman Shali, KNC President

11:00   – 12:30 p.m.

PANEL: Independence and Regional Stability

            Dr. Najmaldin Karim, Session Chair

Mr. Qubad Talabany, KRG, PUK US Representative

Dr. Michael Gunter, Prof of Political Science, Tennessee Tech Univ.

Mr. Mahdi Zana, Former Mayor of Diyarbakir

12:30   – 2:00 p.m.

Lunch Break

2:00     – 3:30 p.m.

PANEL: From Federalism to Independence

            Dr. Hikmat Fikrat, Session Chair

Dr. Shafiq Qazzaz, KRG Minister of Humanitarian Affairs

Dr. Asad Khailany, KNC Past President\

Mr. Jeff Klein, Senior Editor,

Dr. Fouad Darweesh, KNC Past President

3:30     – 4:00 p.m.

Coffee Break

4:00     – 5:30 p.m.

PANEL: Independence and Democracy

            Dr. Saman Shali, Session Chair

Dr. Munther Al-Fadul, Professor of Law –  Kurdistan, member Iraqi National Assembly

Mr. Khalid Azizi, KDPI

Mr. Falah M. Bakir, KRG, KDP

Please join us at 7:30PM for the Newroz Banquet and Awards Presentation

Reservations are required.


Speaker Biographies: (Alphabetical)



Kamal Artin

Dr. Kamal Artin is a Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California, a practicing psychiatrist, a member of Kurdish National Congress and the Kurdistan Referendum Movement, as well as president of Kurdish American Education Society.  He is a contributing writer to and  Dr. Artin was born in Born in Bayangan, a small Kurdish town in the Kermashan province in 1959.  He migrated to Europe and later the U.S. in the 1980s.  He has been an active Kurdish activist during his whole career including as a writer for an open forum of PDK-Iran in the 1990s, a contributing writer to the bulletin of the Kurdish cultural center in Zurich, and founder and moderator of Dangi Be Dangan, a biweekly informative and multilingual radio program in Zurich on Kurdish history and culture in 1990s.



Falah Bakir

Mr. Falah Bakir currently serves in the Kurdistan Regional Government as Minister without Portfolio at the Office of the Prime Minister and Liaison Officer to the Korean Troops in Iraqi Kurdistan.  He has held a number of positions with the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdistan Democratic Party since 1991 including work in foreign relations, public relations, translation and interpretation, and management.  Mr. Bakir’s long list of positions within the Kurdish movement include Special Advisor to the Prime Minister and Liaison Officer to CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) from 2003-2004, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation from 1999-2003, Chief of the KRG Special Committee for International Companies in Kurdistan from 1999-2003, Member of the Oil-for-food Program Committee from 1996-2003, and Chief Translator for President Massoud Barzani and Liaison to International and UN NGOs from 1992-present.  Mr. Bakir also writes and publishes articles in Kurdish, English, and Arabic as time permits.



Jim Cooper

Mr. Cooper is serving his second term as U.S. Representative for the 5th District, although his prior service in Congress gives him eight terms of experience. Jim represents approximately 700,000 people who live in Nashville and surrounding communities like Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Ashland City, Pegram and Pleasant View.  His job is to cut through federal red tape for people here at home and to help pass good federal laws for the nation. Jim’s background is as a local businessman, attorney and teacher.  His main congressional office is in downtown Nashville at 706 Church Street, diagonally across the street from the new Public Library. In Washington, Jim serves on three different committees: the Armed Services Committee (including the Terrorism and Special Forces Subcommittee) and the Budget Committee.  Jim does not live in Washington; he goes to our nation’s capital for votes and committee meetings. He and his wife Martha and their three children live in Green Hills.



Fouad Darweesh

Dr. Fouad Darweesh is a former president of KNC, a practicing physician, and a Clinical Associate Professor at University of California at Irvine.  He is a member of multiple local and international human rights organizations and started his human rights activities at a young age by attending a Kurdish school in Baghdad during the 1950s when the Kurdish language was forbidden to be taught.  Dr. Darweesh practiced medicine in the Kurdish area of Baghdad, Bab sheikh, and in Kurdistan.  Later, he served in an Iraqi prison, Kasir al Nahaya, former King Palace and in Turkish torture-prisons for 274 days.with Kurdish leaders Famed Musa Anter, Senator Ziya Sharafhan Oglu, Yasar Kaya (Former President of Kurdistan Parliament in Exile), Said Elchi, Meded and 39 others.  Dr. Darweesh has lived In the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and the USA and is committed to working for Kurdish human rights, self determination and independence, and believes in non-violence, freedom, democracy, justice, and human rights for all humans with cooperation among all the nations in peace.




Munther Al-Fadul

Dr. Al-Fadul is an expert and professor of middle eastern law and currently serves as a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, 2005, and as an expert at the Defense of Democracy Organization.  He holds a Doctorate in Private Law from the University of Baghdad, 1979. He has been a faculty member of the College of Law at the University of Baghdad, at the University of Annaba- Algeria and at Judicial institute in Baghdad and Jordan.  From 1992 to 1993 he was Vice-dean of the College of Law at the University of Amman, Jordan, and from 1993 to 1997 head of the public and private law departments at the University of Al-Zaytoonah, Amman, Jordan. Since 1997-2004 Dr al-Fadu has been an international consultant in law based in Stockholm, Sweden.  He has been visiting professor of Middle Eastern law at the International College of Law in London, England, since 2001, where he supervises masters and doctoral student theses in Middle Eastern law. He has a law practice in Baghdad and Kurdistan. Dr. Al-Fadul is the author of many law books and articles published in Arabic, Swedish, Kurdish and English, and has participated in legal conferences all over the world.  As a member of the U.S. State Department working group on the future of Iraq, he participated in the drafting of an Iraqi Constitution and bill of Iraqi rights.  After he was able to return to Iraq in 2003, he consulted for the Iraqi Ministry of Justice / CPA and resumed his legal practice in Baghdad.  Since Sept  2004, where he has been a member of faculty at Central European and Eurasian law initiative   (American Bar association-CEELI) Prague – Czech Republic.  Since 14 October 2004 , he has served as an adviser to the Prime Minister’s office of the KRG.  Since November 2004, he has been a visiting professor at the college of law-University of Salah Alden –Kurdistan (High studies / Doctorate students).



Michael Gunter

Michael M. Gunter was born in 1943. He earned his Ph.D. in 1972 from Kent State University. He is a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee and teaches during the summer at the International University in Vienna, Austria. He is the author of five critically praised scholarly books on the Kurdish question, the most recent being Kurdish Historical Dictionary, 2004; The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis, 1999; and The Kurds and the Future of Turkey, 1997. In addition, he is the co-editor (with Mohammed M. A. Ahmed) of The Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraqi War, 2005. He has also published numerous scholarly articles on the Kurds in such leading periodicals as the Middle East Journal, Middle East Quarterly, and Orient, among others and was a former Senior Fulbright Lecturer in International Relations in Turkey. He has been interviewed about the Kurdish question on many occasions by the international and national press.



Kirmanj Gundi

Kirmanj Gundi has been in the United States since 1977. He was a 17-year old teenager when arrived at the States. In fall 1979, he took the GED and passed it. In spring 1980, he enrolled at Tennessee State University, and majored in computer science and minored in mathematics. He completed his undergraduate studies in summer 1985, and received the teacher certificate in 1987.  In fall 1992, he started teaching math and computer science at Hunters Lane Comprehensive High School in Nashville. In fall 2000, he took a full time position as an assistant professor at Tennessee State University, and has been teaching educational administration and leadership courses at the graduate level in the College of Education. He has published numerous scholarly articles at the national and international conferences on education, brain functions, psychology, technology, leadership … etc.


Najmaldin Karim

Dr. Najmaldin Karim is President of the Washington Kurdish Institute and a practicing neurosurgeon.  He was born and raised in Kirkuk where he finished his high school education before heading to Mosul Medical College where he completed medical school.  In 1971, Dr. Karim was elected to the leadership of the Kurdish Student Union.  A year later, in 1972, he joined the Peshmerga forces.  Dr. Karim arrived in the United States in the company of the late Kurdish leader, Mulla Mustafa Barzani as his personal physician and remained very active in Kurdish issues in the U.S.  He completed Neurosurgery training at George Washington University where he still serves as acting clinical professor.  Dr. Karim is a founding member of the Kurdish National Congress of North America and served as its President from 1991 to 1999.  He testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June of 1990 on Saddam Hussein’s atrocities in Kurdistan, including the Anfal campaign and use of chemical weapons; he has since testified before numerous U.S. Senate and House of Representative committees.  Dr. Karim is also the founder and President of the Washington Kurdish Institute and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kurdish Institute in Paris.  In 1992, Dr. Karim worked with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and State Department to establish the Voice of America’s Kurdish service.  Along with lecturing student bodies at many U.S. universities on Kurdish issues, Dr. Karim has been a guest on numerous television and radio programs and written Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post and Washington Times.  Dr. Karim participated in the Vienna Conference which founded the INC and was elected to the General Assembly.  He later participated in the Iraqi opposition conference in London in December 2002 and was elected to the 65-member Follow up and Steering Committee.  He also participated in the Salahaddin meeting of the Follow up and Steering Committee of the Iraqi opposition in February 2003.  Dr. Karim was a member of the first conference held in Baghdad following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.


Asad Khailany

Professor Asad Khailany is the founder and former president of the Kurdish National Congress of North America.  His long career in Kurdish politics started with the founding of the Kurdistan Student Union in Hawler in the 1950s.  Later, after joining KDP, he eventually led of the 5th branch of KDP in Baghdad, managing the Kurdish struggle in Baghdad against the government of Abdul Karim Kasim.  Dr. Khailany was one of the three KDP members who met with the Baath party in 1963 to negotiate for an autonomous Kurdistan within a democratic Iraq.  After the overthrow of the Kasim regime, Dr. Khailany continued to lead the Kurdish struggle in Baghdad as part of the underground resistance.  In 1966, after the split of the KDP, Dr. Khailany decided to leave Kurdistan to pursue higher education, studying mathematics at St. Louis Univeristy and eventually receiving his D. Sc. In Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis.  Since then, Dr. Khailany has been very active in Kurdish organizations in the U.S.  He has served as a board member of the American Kurdish Society, and Washington Kurdish Institute.  In 1988, Dr. Khailany founded Kurdish National Congress of North America in Ann Arbor, MI by extending invitations to a number of Kurdish activists.  Forty Two Kurds in North America representing all parts of Kurdistan attended the conference and the conference passed a resolution to establish Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNC).  Dr. Khailany was elected first president of KNC and has since served as a board member until 2003.  In May, 2003 after the end of major combat operations in Iraq, Dr. Khailany was invited to meet with President George W. Bush where he presented to President Bush a detailed plan for a federated Iraq in which Kurdish rights and aspirations be recognized. Dr. Khailany has also served as a guest on a number of syndicated national television and radio programs and has attended many international and national conferences to promote the Kurdish interest.


Wafa Khorsheed

Dr. Khorsheed is currently serving as the Executive Vice President of the Kurdish National Congress of North America. Dr. Khorsheed is a professor of Computer Information Systems at Eastern Michigan University. He was among the founding members of KNC.  Dr. Khorsheed was born in Kirkuk and received his education in Baghdad.  Dr. Khorsheed completed his higher education in United Kingdom and later the United States, where he received his doctorate in Computer Science. Dr. Khorsheed has been very active in promoting the Kurdish cause in United States. Dr. Khorsheed heads the Education Committee within KNC. Last year he participated in an initiative to send expert scholars from United States to deliver training seminars in Sulaymania. Dr. Khorsheed has coordinated a university-wide proposal, to USAID under the HEAD Program. The goal of the proposal was to establish partnerships between Eastern Michigan University and Iraqi colleges and universities to invigorate and modernize Iraq’s institutions of higher education, through the transfer of current knowledge and technologies in the areas of Health, Education, and Business.


Jeff Klein

Jeff Klein is a senior editor and journalist for, the world’s leading independent Kurdish news source.  In addition to tending to the administration of and coordinating its activities in the US, Mr. Klein has reported breaking news stories, interviewed political figures including mayors, exiled activists, and party leaders, and written on topics ranging from Kurdish film to Iraqi political strategy.  Mr. Klein has made numerous trips to Kurdistan.  He received a B.A in Economics-Mathematics and a Minor in Comparative Religion from Columbia University.



Shafiq Tawfiq Qazzaz

Dr. Qazzaz has served as the Minister of Humanitarian Aid and Cooperation for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Hawler, Kurdistan from 1996 to present.  He was born in Suleimani in Kurdistan of Iraq and has an academic background in internal relations, receiving his Ph.D from American University in 1971.   From 2000-present, he has also served as president of the Kurdistan Academy for Language & Literature and has been active in the UN Oil for Food 986 program since 2000.  Dr. Qazzaz is also well-known as the author of the Sharezoor Kurdish-English Dictionary, published in 2000.  He has also held several positions in the Kurdish movement including Head of Tehran Bureau of the Kurdish Revolution from 1974-1975 and the representative of the Kurdish Revolution in the United States from 1965-1973.


Saman Shali

Dr. Shali currently serves as the President of the Kurdish National Congress of North America.  He was born in the city of Sulaimany in Kurdistan of Iraq.  In 1969, he joined the Kurdistan Student Union.  In 1973 graduated with BSC degree in Chemistry from University of Sulaimany and subsequently joined the Kurdish revolution as a freedom fighter.  In 1980, he received a PhD in Science (Chemistry) from Sussex University in the UK.  Since 1976, he has become a Kurdish activist fighting for Kurdish human rights and self-determination.  In 1989, he joined the Kurdish National Congress of North America, and in the 2004 16th annual conference was elected as President.  In a March 2003, Dr. Shali represented KNC in a meeting at the White House with Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  Dr. Shali has also been involved in the editing and publishing of the following Kurdish publications: Kurdistan in the Media, Kurdistan for Kurds, and Kurdistan Review.  He has also organized many demonstrations, galleries and conferences to bring the Kurdish cause on the international political stage and serves as an advisory member to the Kurdish Community center in San Diego.


Qubad Talabany

Qubad Talabany serves as the Representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the United States.  The PUK is the leading political party in the Kurdistan Regional Government – Suleimani, which administers the eastern part of Iraqi Kurdistan.  In that capacity, Mr. Talabany works closely with the United States Government, the media and research institutions providing critical analysis and up-to-date information about the situation in Iraq.  In the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom in spring 2003, he served for one year as a Senior Foreign Relations officer for the PUK in Iraq, operating mainly out of Baghdad and Suleimani. In that capacity, he worked closely with the U.S-led Coalition Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), and was the PUK’s top liaison to the Coalition after it became the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).  In addition, while in Iraq, Mr. Talabany was a key PUK negotiator during the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), Iraq’s current constitution.  He also acted as a liaison officer between the PUK and U.S. forces in Iraq.  From 2001 until spring 2003, Mr. Talabany served as the Deputy United States Representative of the PUK.  In 2000-2001, he was a Special Assistant to the then PUK Representative in Washington, Dr. Barham Salih.  Presently, Dr. Salih is Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister.  Mr. Talabany is frequently interviewed by the popular press and other publications and has appeared numerous times on major television networks, including CNN, BBC, FOX News, and other American and international networks to discuss Kurdish and Iraqi issues.   Mr. Talabany’s family has been involved in Kurdish politics for decades. His father, Jalal Talabany, is Secretary General of the PUK.  He was a member of the rotating Presidency of the former Iraqi Governing Council and presently continues to play a leading role in national Iraqi politics.  Mr. Talabany studied in London and holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering.  He lives with his wife Sherri Kraham in Washington, D.C.



Mehdi Zana

Mr. Zana was born in Turkish occupied Kurdistan in 1940.  In 1977, he became the mayor of Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city, after serving a sentence for speaking in Kurdish to authorities.  In 1980, he was arrested and put into Diyarbakir military prison like many other Kurds.  All were tortured.  In a span of two years, 54 Kurdish inmates would die as a result.  Many others would be crippled for life.  After serving eleven years in the notorious military prison in Diyarbakir, Mehdi Zana was released in 1991 following a conditional amnesty, only to be sentenced again in 1994 to four more years and in 1997 to ten more months of imprisonment for his testimony to the European Parliament Human Rights Sub-committee and for publishing a poetry book, respectively.  Mr. Zana has a book chronicling his ordeal in Turkish prisons titled, ‘Prison Number 5’ and continues his tireless efforts and leadership to bring freedom to Kurds.  Mr. Zana is currently busy with organizing a new Kurdish party in Turkey with his wife Layla Zana.

About Kurdish American Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran(kacdhri)

Kurdish American Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran On November 2005 a group of Kurdish-Americans decided to organize a committee to work on Kurdish issues in Iran and to build a relationship among Iranian opposition groups toward democracy in Iran. The following points clarified a need for organizing and helping the Iranian political parties to come together and to start coordinating their efforts We considered that: 1. Iran is not a homogeneous ethnic society and formidable Iranian opposition parties are aligned with separate ethnic groups. 2. Persians are a minority who has been the dominating power since the end of WWI and all other minority groups have revolted at some point during the 20th century and continue to do so in this century. 3.Kurdish struggle for human rights and self-determination is the longest and most mature democratic national movement in Iran, the only one to have developed a constitution for a democratic society (The Republic of Kurdistan, Mahabad 1947). 4. We considered that any political opposition to the Islamic regime without the involvement of Turkmans, Baluoch, Azeri, Kurd and Arab groups would fail. 5. Almost all Persian nationalist parties have vowed to side with the Islamic regime to “fight” minority groups and democracy. Based on the above ideas and considerations, Kurdish Americans from Iran organized a Committee for Democracy on December 2005. “Kurdish American Committee for democracy in Iran” had a sense of obligation to take an active role in organizing the Iranian opposition groups by:

Posted on March 20, 2005, in English and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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