The Kurdish Globe
25 June 2012
Mr. Yves Guillemont
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Dear Mr. Guillemont,
The Kurdistan Regional Government Department of Foreign Relations presents its compliments to you and writes to you regarding the use of Kurdistan's flag in the upcoming release of your new game Splinter Cell Blacklist.
The demo of Splinter Cell Blacklist begins with a voiceover by Mr. Maxime Béland, the Creative Director for Ubisoft Toronto, in which he states, "Our demo begins near the Iran/Iraq border where fort Echelon has located a terrorist leader."
The visual accompaniment to this monologue is of an injured soldier being carried into what appears to be the hideout of the terrorist leader that is mentioned, or one of his henchmen. The wounded soldier groans and seems to die while a dialogue takes place between the game's hero and the man who appears to be in charge of the terrorist hideout. The game's hero then proceeds to kill each of the terrorists in the room before the demo moves on to the next scene. During this scene, the flag of Kurdistan is featured prominently on the wall of the terrorist hideout.
What seems to be clearly implied by the way Kurdistan's flag is displayed in the game is that it represents a terrorist organization. As a part of a product that is being created for mass international consumption, we are concerned that this misrepresentation of a revered symbol of the people and government of the Kurdistan Region will further contribute to the inaccurate negative stereotypes that we already work so hard to overcome about our Region.
The Kurdish people have themselves suffered extensively at the hands of terrorists, but our values and reverence for democracy and freedom have never and will never allow us to resort to such measures ourselves.
Our people underwent tremendous suffering at the hands of Saddam Hussein and his former regime, losing 4,500 villages and over 180,000 lives to the ravages of his forces. However, even with this history, our people willingly granted amnesty to thousands of his soldiers when they were captured in the Kurdistan Region following the uprising and gaining of our regional autonomy in 1991.
As you may or may not be aware, our people and government were the only consistent military and political allies of the coalition forces within Iraq before, during and since the 2003 invasion to overthrow the former Ba'athist Regime. We proudly fought alongside the coalition forces throughout their eight-year involvement in Iraq in order to try and help establish a new federal, democratic system here.
At no point have the people or the government of the Kurdistan Region expressed or felt any hostility toward those who participated in the coalition action in Iraq. On the contrary, our Peshmerga forces fought and died alongside of them as allies who shared common values and a common vision, and both Americans and westerners in general are welcomed here and celebrated by the general public as liberators and friends of our people.
Additionally, our autonomous region never required the protection or occupation that was needed to maintain order in most of the rest of Iraq. There was not a single coalition or Western fatality in the Kurdistan Region due to war or terrorism throughout the entire conflict.
We have worked hard to earn the trust of the international community and to disassociate our Region from the violence and extremism that has been so characteristic of much of the rest of Iraq. Understanding what we have suffered and what we have accomplished, we hope that you will appreciate how offensive and damaging the association of Kurdistan's flag with a terrorist network really is.
In celebration of the democratic values that our people share, and in the spirit of our mutual friendship and good will, we respectfully request that your esteemed organization remove all negative associations of the Kurdistan Region and its government from Splinter Cell Blacklist and any other Ubisoft games.
The flag of Kurdistan that currently features in association with terrorist fighters in your game embodies both the persecution that we have experienced throughout the past century and the hope that we have held for freedom and democracy to flourish in our land. We urgently request that you help us preserve the sanctity of this symbol to our people.
The KRG Department of Foreign Relations avails itself of this opportunity to assure you of its highest consideration.
Falah Mustafa Bakir, Minister
Head of Department of Foreign Relations
Kurdistan Regional Government - Iraq