Caucher Birkar: Fields award is a gift to the Kurdish nation

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Professor Caucher Birkar, the first Kurd to win the Fields medal in mathematics, took to Facebook to share his accomplishment to the Kurdish people, hoping this would push Kurdish readers to do more.

“I would have loved to go to Qanih’s to tell him not to worry, Kurds can progress as well,” wrote Caucher in a Facebook post on Thursday, referring to a famous Kurdish poet.

Birkar is a professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was awarded the Fields medal on Wednesday in Brazil, becoming the first Kurd to obtain what is considered by many to be on of the highest awards in the field for those no older than 40. 

He was born in the Kurdish city of Marivan in Rojhelat, or Iranian Kurdistan. He graduated in mathematics from Tehran then went to the United Kingdom as a refugee.

“I would be very happy if this news could relieve some of the sadness in the heart of Kurds and non-Kurds. I hope this serves as an encouragement for further striving by Kurdish readers, and for better recognition and respect for Kurdish scientists,” added Birkar.

Caucher, 40, confirmed the news that his medal had been stolen. “This isn’t important at all. They will give me a new one. Don’t be upset and do your halparke [a Kurdish dance],” Birkar added.

After receiving the award, Birkar sent a message to the stateless Kurdish nation, spread across Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and in diaspora. 

"I'm hoping that this news will put a smile on the faces of those 40 million people," Birkar said.

One person who was overwhelmed with happiness was Caucher's mother, who still lives in Rojhelat. She responded to Rudaw's questions in an exclusive video.

Masoud Barzani, the former president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, also congratulated him, saying his success also gave him reason to smile.

Caucher’s success has been received warmly among Kurds, with his village of Nie thanking him for gifting his success to the Kurdish people.

Within hours, Barzani's message was put on a poster in Nie and written in Kurdish for the people to see

The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government also expressed support for Caucher and the Kurdish homeland.

“I congratulate you and your family for this great success. This award and scientific success has been the reason for pride and happiness for the nation and the homeland,” reads a statement from KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday.

The premier added that Caucher is the example of a smart and scientific Kurd for the world, hoping this would push the youth in all fields, especially the scientific fields, to try harder to imitate his success.

The University of Cambridge posted a video of Caucher's story, which was told first-hand.

The acting head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, historically the second-largest party in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, said the award and recognition should push other Kurds to strive toward their dreams — the same as others.

"This success of yours and obtaining an international award like world's professors and scientists is a testament to the truth that, 'Yes Kurdish individuals have great capabilities in different fields, and if they have the opportunity, they can be of service like the rest of the world's scientists,' " said Kosrat Rasul, Thursday.

Last updated at 11:52 p.m.

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