The Justice for Kurds Network of Student Ambassadors was established to bring together the brightest and most accomplished students from the United States, Europe and around the world to advocate for the Kurdish cause and demonstrate Kurdistan’s commitment to humanist values and democracy.
Launched in July 2018, the network is a student incubator created to galvanize interest in Kurdistan through creative channels, build community among engaged students and create a lasting tie to the Kurdish cause for tomorrow’s leaders.
Chosen students will act as ambassadors on their respective campuses and may choose to organize gatherings and events, share information on social networks and contribute to the Justice for Kurds website with the goal of bringing awareness of Kurdistan to their peers and beyond.
To learn more about the program, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Student Ambassadors
Ozan Beran Akturan is a Kurdish-Turkish international student from Ankara studying at the University of Chicago. He majors in Biological Sciences and double minors in Molecular Engineering and Business, completing additional coursework in Public Policy and Politics.
On campus, he leads political research cohorts on the Kurdish question, NATO-EU security cooperation and the Cyprus Dispute under EUChicago, the largest chapter of the student-led transatlantic think-tank, the European Horizons. He also writes for the Gate, UChicago’s online student journal for politics. He is passionate about furthering political awareness for the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue through interethnic appreciation and intellectual capacity building in Kurdish diasporas.
As an avid traveler, he is dedicated for advancing minority rights globally for a culturally more sensitive and inclusive future. He likes to write poetry and listen to international folk music in his free time.
Kathryn Lynn lived and worked in Iraqi Kurdistan teaching English after completing a BA in Applied Languages from the University of Limerick, Ireland. After Kurdistan she went on to earn an MA in Writing, before going back to get another BA, this time in Economics from the University of Oklahoma. She is pursuing an MSc in Gal Economic Governance and Policy at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her research interests include economic development of Kurdish regions and post-conflict economic recovery.
Kavien Begikhani is a third-year Liberal Arts & Sciences student with a major in Human Diversity at the Leiden University College in The Hague. With his origins in Kurdistan and his passion for literature and poetry in general, Kavien aims to focus his research on the heritage and development of cultural-artistic expressions of the Kurdish nation.
Kavien is a steering committee member of the Center for Peace & Human Security at the American University of Kurdistan, based in Duhok, which analyzes major challenges to regional and global peace, sources of disharmony, and key mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution. He also works with the Dutch refugee council, and with the Kurdish Institute of Paris.
Kavien works for the Nishtiman Youth Network (NYN), Kurdistan’s largest volunteerism network that aims to facilitate youth-empowerment, emancipation and community-development programs.
Mahmud Brifkani is a third-year law student at Vanderbilt University. He was drawn to the legal profession due to the lack of representation of Kurds within the legal community. He received his Bachelor's of Science degree in International Relations from Middle Tennessee State University in 2013.
Mahmud held summer associate positions at Baker McKenzie in Dallas, Texas, and Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. In between undergraduate and law school, Mahmud was a Legislative Analyst for M. Lee Smith Publishers, exposing him to the world of policy-making and the complexities of state politics. He also interned in Washington, D.C. at the National Defense University and for Chairman Bob Ramsey at the Tennessee State Legislature.
A native of Duhok, Kurdistan, Mahmud Brifkani immigrated to Nashville, TN, with his family in 1996. Mahmud helped to start the Kurdish Achievers, a program aimed at helping first-generation Kurds students finish high school and overcome the cultural, economic, and social barriers they face. He is also involved with the Kurdish Professionals, a group that organizes professionals and students within the Kurdish diaspora, encouraging higher educational achievement, community service, and mentorship.
Bahar is a first year Master’s student in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Duhok University. From 2015- 2017, Bahar was Director of Administration at the American Kurdish Organization for Development and Education. From 2012 to 2017, she volunteered at various humanitarian organizations for orphans, disabled people, IDPs and Refugees.
Bahar was born in Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, lived in the Netherlands between 1996 – 2003, in Kurdistan from 2003 to 2017 and now is based in Germany.
Shivan Fazil is a Chevening Scholar, and graduate student of MSc. Middle East Politics, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is a leadership fellow alumni from the East-West Centre, USA.
Prior to SOAS, Shivan worked as senior policy officer with Oxfam GB in Iraq, advocating for durable solutions on the internal displacement and returns. Prior to Oxfam, he was the director of communications at the Middle East Research Institute, a leading think tank in Iraq. He has been working closely with international researchers in conducting research and sharing findings with policymakers, journalists and civil society. The focus of these efforts center on conflict resolution and reconciliation, ethnic and religious minorities’ rights, and building resilience and livelihoods for Syrian refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq. He seeks to influence policy- and decision makers to support justice for his people and a fairer and secure international order.
He holds MSc. in Advanced Computer Networks from the University of Derby, UK and BSc. in Information Technology from the University of Kurdistan-Hawler, Erbil.
David Isaac Haziza was born in Paris and is an alumnus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Sorbonne. He holds a Master’s Degree in Contemporary Philosophy and is completing his Ph.D. at Columbia University, where he is writing a dissertation on French Romanticism and its connections to politics and theology. His research focuses on the notion of redemption through sin from Sade and the French Revolution to Baudelaire.
Since 2015, Haziza is a regular contributor to La Règle du Jeu, in which he has published numerous articles on society, politics, literature and cinema. He also writes articles in the French Jewish review Tenou’a on mostly religious topics. He is an advocate for the Kurdish cause as it represents a pole of stability and enlightened Islam in the Middle East.
Anaele Maman is a third year law student at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She completed a one-year course in Art History and is a member of the academic club René Cassin. She is committed to combatting political and humanitarian injustices, which the Kurds have been subjected to and which she hopes to change with her involvement as a student ambassador.
Nathan Naccache is a second year student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and an editor at La Règle du Jeu, a literary review which promotes humanism and liberal values. In the coming months, he will publish a philosophical essay entitled “Généalogie de la religion” as well as a novel, “La porte de l’homme.” He is a supporter of the Kurds for they provide a stable bridge between the West and the Middle East which is, now, more urgent than ever before.