They're surrounded by people who want them wiped from the face of the earth.
They're a minority in a contentious region.
They're the Kurds and, along with their military power, the Peshmerga, they will do anything they can to survive. Strong people don't allow themselves to be oppressed. The Peshmerga understand this. They have beaten the wolves away - Saddam's Iraq, al Qaeda, ISIS, etc.- for decades, and their predecessors set the foundation in fighting the Ottomans, Persians, and British.
We Americans have had a long relationship with them, relying on them in both direct and indirect military operations. They are our stateless allies - a reflection of ourselves in the desire to be free. The very meaning itself is often translated as "one who faces death," "one who confronts death," and "one who stands against death."
It is the full acknowledgement that their way of life is a daily test of will. We made this shirt not just in a show of solidarity, but because they?re some of the toughest people on the planet. Stand against death.