Last updated: March 13, 2019
Topic: ArtBooks
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The Kurds are people of Indo-European origin who live mainly in the mountains and Uplands where Turkey, Iraq, and Iran meet, in the area known as “Kurdistan” for a hundred of years.  They have their own language and it is related to Persian but it is divided into two main dialects. Kurdish people are devastatingly Sunni Muslim, they recognize Jews, Christians, Yazidis and other sect’s .In the beginning of the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire seized the lands of today’s Turkey from the Greek people. The war which was led by the Fatih Sultan Mehmet, of the Ottoman Empire, succeeds on the 14th night of the Constantinople war, and officially the Ottoman Empire seized the land from the Greeks. Through the policy of ‘expanding,’ Ottoman Empire had the lands of ancient cultures such as Hittites, Assur, Arzawa, Mesopotamia, Croatia, Armenia, Cyprus, Ugarit, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Cairo (northern Africa). It was an Empire that had an enormous number of cultures, languages and ethnic groups, and all the minorities except Kurds lost their real identity today and have become pure Turk to generation to another generation. It was inevitable that there would not be any peace or land problem between those different groups.

In the 16th century, the Ottoman and Persian Empires allowed the Kurdish tribes almost total self-rule in return for keeping, the peace on the rugged but open border in between two empires. The Ottoman Empire was cart off and the Kurds found themselves segregated between Turkey, Iran and Iraq. In each new post war countries, the Kurds found they were treated with suspicion, and pressured to conform to the ways of the majority. Their old independence and traditional pastille way of life was swiftly reduced. They were expected to learn the main language of the new state in which they found themselves Turkish, Persian or Arabic, to abandon their Kurdish identity and to accept Iranian or Arab nationalism. As a tribal and conventionally minded society, the Kurds want to be left in peace, but a few then were nationalist. Some tribes tried to resist the infringement of government while their rivals benefited from operating with the government. But an escalating number of Kurds felt the deliberate depression of their cultural identity. In Turkey, almost 10 million Kurds are forbidden to use their own language to describe themselves as Kurds, on pain of imprisonment Kurds are officially known as “Mountain Turks”.

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In Iran the Kurds were similarly brought under control in the 1920s. In 1946 the Kurds of Mahabad succeeded in declaring an independent republic, but it only lasted a few months, and the authorities hanged the ringleaders. Tribal chiefs were allowed to register tribal lands as personal possessions and were welcomed into the Iranian ruling elite, in return for making sure their tribes obeyed the government. After the Shia revolution the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) rebelled after demands for autonomy were refused by Tehran. There were numerous revolts against Baghdad, mainly by Mullah Mustafa Barzani, the famous leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP). From 1964 until 1975 Barzani was physically powerful enough to maintain an intermittent state of war and peace negotiations. In 1974 the governing Bath party offered the Kurds autonomy, but the Kurds believed it lacked substance and they reverted to war, strongly supported and encouraged by Iran. But In 1975 the Shah of Iran, who had supported Barzani, signed the Agreement of Algiers with the Iraqi government and abandoned the Iraqi Kurds to their fate; as a result the Kurdish resistance virtuallycollapsed. In the years that followed, many of the achievements of 1970 were gradually whittled down by the Iraqi authorities. In view of the repeated vicious attacks on Kurdish civilians after the end of the Iran-Iraq war (e.g. Halabja, March 1988), and the forced resettlements of parts of the Kurdish population (1989), it seems unlikely that the atmosphere in Iraq will be conducive to worthwhile literary activities in the near future.

At the time of writing, it is impossible to predict the effects of the 1991 Gulf War on the position of the Kurds of Iraq. The successes of the Iraqi Kurds in the field of language and education have, however, enabled them to create an impressive literature and a fully adequate written language, and have produced a generation of Kurds whose primary and secondary education have been in Kurdish. Such achievements will undoubtedly help the Kurds of Iraq in their future efforts to preserve their cultural and ethnic identity.

After seven hundred years, by the early 19th-20th century with all the rises and falls the Ottoman Empire became weak and started losing its land, from Eastern Europe and today’s Iraq and Syria. When the Ottoman Empire lost most of it land, there were lots of sub-cultural groups which stayed in Turkey’s land. The majority were northern people who stayed in the far eastern part of Turkey, today’s Anatolia. They were the people, whom we call ‘Kurds,’ who are combined with mostly Iraqi’s and some of the Eastern Turkish people. Half of the Kurdish people live in Anatolia, and the other half live in northern Iraq. It is estimated that they have a population on up to 15 million people in Turkey, which is equal to 20% of the population.

The Republic of Turkey Kemal Ataturk established in 1920s out of the ruins of Ottoman Empire was the first new, third-world states of the twentieth century. Before the great leader, the father of Turkey, Ataturk created a separate country in 1923 from the ashes of intolerant Ottoman Empire. He first instituted his reforms by giving rights to minority people. After Ataturk made his reforms in 1923, right after the great Ottoman Empire lost most of its land, every other minority that had the same rights as the majority and created a country which includes all the minorities under same language and flag. No matter how hard Ataturk tried to unite the nation, today after sixty years the Kurds now have this pressured feeling which is held by the pure Turkish people when they see that a village in Eastern Turkey has been bombed by terrorists. Unfortunately minority of the terrorist were Kurds, sorry to say Turks now see all Kurds as evil terrorists. Now the Kurdish people believe that they are the lower class of the society, like Mexicans do in the USA. Even the random Turkish citizen on the street has this point of view, this bad mark stick on Kurdish people’s back. They always had been considered ‘modern’ Islamic people. A man who is Kurdish always be considered uncivilized because they are part of Iraqi culture, and they are strictly controlled by the Islamic regime. It has been like this for many of the pure Turks for a long time. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Kurds rebelled against this prejudice, and the government suppressed them with great ferocity deporting thousands from their homeland. The continued abrasive suppression of over 9 million people has resulted in the rise of Marxist guerrilla group (Kamaran Kake,1996-2000).

The same period also witnessed a sudden rebirth of the Alevi identity. The Alevis, a heterodox religious minority, began manifesting themselves very much as yet another ethnic group. All over the country, as well as among the migrant communities in Europe, Alevi associations sprang up. Alevi intellectuals and community leaders set out to define the Alevi identity, Alevi tradition, Alevi history. Between 1990 and 1995, more books were published in Turkey about the Alevis than about any ethnic group, the Kurds included. Both the Kurdish movement and the government courted the Alevis, and both did their utmost to prevent the other from making inroads among them. Both, but especially the government, were handicapped in these efforts because they depended on Sunni majorities which had always been hostile to the Alevis. The police, who after 1980 had been purged of left-wing elements, was in many places dominated by conservative Sunnis or right-wing nationalists, and there were a number of major incidents in which the police took part in vicious violence against Alevis, causing renewed alienation between the Alevis and the state.

After Ataturk died in 1938 right after the nation he built announced to the whole world that Turkey is a Republic and over the years the new government and new religious based parties started to include more candidates in the government. We started get away from the father of Turkey’s ideas. Ataturk had dreamed a land that would be at the level of modern, strong, self-sufficient, and independent like European countries.

Turkey has got away from the ideas of Ataturk in sixty years later and as a result of this now our new religious based prime-Minister works hard outside of the country to get in the European Union. The European Union is a macroeconomic powerful union which includes the most powerful countries in Europe and most of the other countries in Eastern Europe want to be a part. In 1950, Ismet Inonu, Ataturk’s successor, decided to end the one party rule of the Republican Peoples Party (RPP) by allowing Turkey’s first genuinely competitive elections. They resulted however, in his ouster from power. An exaggerated majority election system gave the victorious Democrat Party (DP) of  Celal Bayar and Adnan Menderes 86 percent of the National Assembly seats, even though though it garnered only 53 percent of the vote. The E.U means job opportunities; economic growth and the opportunity to travel across E.U member countries without a visa and passport. The reason why we and the other countries want to be part is that we will receive a large amount of money and many job opportunities if we are involved to this union. The union is attractive to most of the countries but Turkey is having a hard time being a member of E.U. On the other hand, countries like Turkey especially nowadays, sacrificing from its values, beliefs and perspectives of looking to life, to get in this union. Those values are the values that great leader put ahead of this country and which we lost within the new government, such as, “Turkey belongs to Turks,” “Happy is he who says, ‘I am a Turk’.” Ataturk wanted to Turkey to have a strong character like European countries so Turkey given to negotiate from a positive of strength. In this was we are also trying to show our country like the most modern country in the world, by deciding bringing foreign doctors to Turkey. The reason is these kinds of decisions our Prime-Minister is ignoring the words that our great leader said to us. There is a story told about him that was when they asked Ataturk if he wanted to go to Europe to get a cure for his sickness. His answer was; “Let Turkish doctors will care of me.”

In this way of ignoring our values, in order to be a member of the union, biggest

problem occurs, because it carries problem of ethnic division with the major sub-cultural group the Kurds. This was not a problem when we were living peacefully at Ataturk’s time. Many Turks, and their government, feel that the PKK and other Kurdish separatists have been receiving aid from various states and groups .In his “statement” of August 1989 on the escalating PKK guerilla operations, General Necip Torumtay,the Chief of Staff in Ankara, asserted “that the PKK….receives important support  from foreign powers” Turkey will have to counter resurgence of armed terrorism every year. The Turks undoubtedly have been influenced by their historical memories of European imperialist schemes to weaken and divide the Ottoman Empire in nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They are the terrorist group who kidnap young boys from Eastern Turkey and bring them up to become terrorists to fight against Turkey. This terrorist group wants their vulgar and savage leader Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan to be released from the Island of Imrali on the Marmara Sea.

The problem of Kurdish occurred because of the terrorist group PKK (Terrorist Organization of Kurds). Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan, the leader of PKK,lived in a District of Damascus normally off limits to foreigners. In July 1981,the PKK held it’s first congress at the Lebanese Syrian border. Abdullah was caught in Italy in 1998 for the crime of murdering hundred of thousands of people in Easter Turkey and afterwards he escaped to Europe. The PKK wanted their leader to be released from Island Imrali, and they believe that within the attention of human rights in Turkey because of the E.U, there will be extra pressure on the Turkish government, so the government will release Ocalan. PKK became ‘a problem’ twenty-thirty years ago and they have cooled down in recent years. Now they came out from their caves and they are yelling on the streets of Diyarbakir to make the government release their leader.

It is a main concern that the terrorist people located at the Iraq’s boarder to Turkey and trying to agitate Kurds against Turks to have their leader Ocalan back. The PKK is protesting on the streets of Eastern Turkey, saying that the land of Turkey belongs to them. They are throwing rocks at the police whom trying to stop them and trying to be offensive to the people on the streets so there is a tense situation between Turks and PKK. This kind of situation rise because of the wrong policy of new government of AKP (Justice and Development Party) the president and as well our Prime-Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since our Prime-Minister is spending most of his time outside of Turkey lobbying with the European Union countries to keep good relations to make them vote in next elections for Turkey to be a member of the union. While we are close to the doors of the E.U. many terrorists and some part of the Kurdish people are finds this a good time to ask land, because in Turkey so-called human rights level is going to increase within the membership of the E.U and they are going to have their ‘own’ land and Ocalan will be released from the Imrali Island. The E.U pretty much gives courage to the PKK to think like this. However, while our Prime-Minister is making these lobbies to get in the E.U he seems to be accepting only one of Ataturk’s ideas, and that is “Our great ideal is to raise our nation to the highest standard of civilization and prosperity.” He is only trying keep of Turkey, Kurds and mostly PKK daring as land and their leader to be unrestricted.

This kind of behaviors of PKK is definitely not persuading the Turks. Opposite, it is urging us to rebellion against them. The best example for this revolt is the most recent movement which are created by the ‘Young Turks’ which they are accepted all of the ideas of Ataturk and will not let the terrorist people divide our country. Young Turks are basically protesting the aggravation happened in Diyarbakir, eastern part of Turkey. They are saying that, Republic of Turkey has its own watchmen for the terrorist whom will try to divide this country will be conquered. At this point, Kurds seem to be disgusted morally, because some of the Turks think that they are terrorists and quasi-citizen. For the majority people whom think similar, I have an answer to them.

The most shocking of these incidents were the firebomb attack on a leftist-cum-

Alevi cultural festival in Siva’s in 1993, in which 37 people were killed, and the riots

following a terrorist raid on Alevi teahouses in the Istanbul neighborhood Gazi (district

Gaziosmanpa?a), in which policemen deliberately fired into the crowd of protesters,

killing more than a dozen persons. Both are briefly described below. Of a different

nature, but not unrelated, was the violence directed at the (Alevi) villages in eastern

central Turkey, where the Kurdish war began spilling over into the Alevi-inhabited zone.

The major concentrations of Turkish Alevis used to be found in central Anatolia, but

there are important pockets of Alevi villages throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean

coastal regions and in the European part of Turkey as well. Kurdish Alevis were

concentrated in the north-western part of the Kurdish settlement zone, with Dersim

(Approximately the present province of Tunceli) as the cultural centre and with important

pockets further south, east and west. An arc of culturally and religiously mixed districts,

stretching from Gaziantep and Kahramanmara? in the south through Ad?yaman and

Malatya to Sivas in the north, constitutes a zone of transition from Turkish Kurdistan (the

Southeast) to the rest of the country. It was in this zone that during the 1970s the most

serious clashes between Sunnis and Alevis took place. The Alevis, Turks as well as

Kurds, used to live in mountainous and relatively isolated villages, reflecting their history

of  persecution in the Sunni Ottoman Empire. Only from the 1950s on did they start

leaving these villages in large numbers to settle in the towns of the region or migrate to

the large cities in the west.

I want to clarify something by telling the story of our flag. I believe this story would clarify the point of view looking to Kurds, Laz and also to Circassians. The story of our flag goes back to the Independence War. After the war, Ataturk was having a tour of the war area at night time, and he sees that one of the dead soldier’s bloods made a small pond. On the pond there is the reflection of the stars and crescent moon. That pond, had blood of Kurds, Turks, Laz’s and Circassians. The Independence was announced and our borders specified by those people whom gave their life without hesitating. The bottom point is Kurds have the right to ask to have their own government, because no matter what happen in the future nothing going to change their feeling of being ‘quasi-citizen under the Turkish government.’

A recent story from Turkey, that happened about two weeks ago. A Kurdish mother of a dead Kurdish soldier fights for the Turkish army, whom fought against the PKK at Diyarbakir and died martyr. The mother is hugging his son’s coffin, red and white Turkish flag on it. She is cursing the terrorist group and faints from the emotion and only these words fall from her crying mouth. ‘If I had ten more sons, I would sacrifice their life for this country and flag, again. “(Kurtler, oglumuz ay yildizli bayrakla oldu!!)”

To give the sense to readers ‘quasi-citizen’ of these Kurds who have been called and see what they here inside of their heart and for their love to Turkey. Here are the words of accordion singer on the street, in the movie of Fatih Akin’s Crossing the Bridge.

“It was almost 10 years before; I wanted to go to my homeland (Kars) after I completed my military duty for Turkish army at Samsun. In fact, I couldn’t go back. Every 50 or 60km they take us outside of the bus and search us for nothing. When we get out from the bus we see this sign “Love your forests, Love your country” there is this sing standing right there, I look at the other side, there is river floating down at the same time I am looking up, forests are burning.”

“They all gave fire to our homes just like this (PKK terrorists group). The quadratic people on this land at the Independence War how come they considered us (Kurds) their enemies? A good of stopping the violence is this story of a PKK terrorist who designed this cell phone remote controlled bomb planted in a bus so that whenever someone calls him the bomb would activate and many people would die at the end, either in the bus or around it. The important thing is that this story never happened. It was about to happen but the terrorist chose not to. He says after he caught by the police, “I am a member of PKK and they raised me up to build bombs and kill innocent people whom they told us were the guilty ones preventing Kurds, from their own land.”

And the reporter asks “Why didn’t you turn on the bomb?” and the terrorist answers. “From now on, I myself choose not to kill people for nothing, I realize that we are not going to get a land by this. There is no end of killing people like this. I am going to spend my time in jail to understand my mistake and get back to a happy life.”

“PKK bombac?s?ndan tüyleri ürperten itiraflar”.

I presume that even the terrorists, whom belong to the PKK and have been fighting against us for a long time, now understand the way he thinks. It is important because it is a step towards being non-violent. The next step in getting together as one nation is to make them feel at home. As long as they do not feel the warmness of home, they will be upset and continue their propagandas in a violent way.

The Kurds plight most recently captured the world’s attention in 1991 following the end of the Gulf War. Television around the world would show images of northern Iraq’s Kurds fleeing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq through the mountains of Turkey and Iran. Since the 1920’s., negotiations between Iraq’s Kurds and the government in Baghdad have always broken down over issues of Kurdish independence, and the Kurds’ wish to control the oil-rich City of Kirkuk and have their own militia.

These lines pretty much summarizing how they feel about their position in Turkey.. Not only they are feeling it, the Turkish government is not letting Kurdish music play on the radio stations. At this point, from the same movie, Crossing the Bridge by Fatih Akin, producer of the movie is a music publisher as well and he has a word for the music-freedom of Kurds:

“Producing music for minority people (Kurds, Circassian, Abaza’s, and Laz’s) were banned before 1990’s, in fact channel owners are not showing the clips of those songs. The most frustrating thing for Kurds is of that the government lets English, French, German music be eligible to be shown and played by the station. But for the Kurds, who accept the Turkish flag as their own flag, their music is banned by the channels. The sad thing is, not letting play Kurdish song only a matter of the Turkish government.”

From the day, that the guns fell silent in World War 1 and the Ottoman Empire collapsed into its constituent’s components, the question with what to do with the minorities within the rump state of Turkey, particularly the Kurds, has been a burning issue. When Kemal Attaturk founded the Turkish state from the ashes of the old polyglot empire, his vision called for a unitary state in which everyone would be united in a common identity as Turks. However, this philosophy of unity involved the elimination of outliers, such as religiosity and the identity of the Kurds. All Kurdish culture was banned, and no languages were allowed to be spoken or taught other than Turkish. The conflict between the militant adhesive used to hold together the Turkish state and the wish for the Kurds to safeguard their own identity has whacked the nation since its founding. Though progress has been made in reconciling the Turkish state with the Kurdish people through redefining the aims of both. If this trend continues, Turkey will finally settle down to full peace and be relieved of the burdens that still hold it back from its quest to join the developed world.

While Kurdish people are living quasi in Turkey, they founded great artists, businessmen and singers. Majority of them is Kurdish and mostly living in Istanbul. The best example for the artist is Ibrahim Tatlises. He is almost like the idol of Kurds. He mostly sings traditional Sufi and the music type we so called ‘arabesque,’ which basically is about the suffering of the lower class young people. As long as, the Kurdish youngsters are majority in Istanbul they really enjoy his songs. On the other hand, Turkish people like me, because of his speeches about being brother and peaceful with Kurds and Turks. Turkey has long held the interest of the West. Once it was focus of attention because of it’s romantic fascination: an exotic land with sultans, harems, eunuchs and dervishes: a fierce and fearsome people who had twice knocked on the very gates of  Vienna: the great mosques and monuments of Constantinople: the amazing Atarurk.who divested mighty Britain at Gallipoli and then set out to turn his entire country around with one  dramatic revolution after another .Today Turkey is still attracting the attention of observers, but for different reason: It has completed a full half-century modernizing revolution, half of that period with democratic politics’, a record achieved by few other “developing countries.” To the visitor from the West, Turkey is a country of great paradoxes. One hears many complaints of the economy-rapid inflation, numerous

shortages, aggravating inadequacies of public services- but at the same time most of people seem to have a remarkable ability to adjust to their circumstances. One of the central phenomena of modernization is rapidly increasing national integration not only in the economic and political areas, but in the cultural sphere as well. Among the major avenues for nationalization of a society’s culture are the education system, communications, and the arts. It fosters the acquisition of needed skills, including, literacy, and skill in Mathematics, general academic knowledge, and vocational training. The Turkish Republic’s education system has been used to serve all these modernizing functions.

The “Kurdish problem” has always been intimately related to Turkey’s greater problem, such as its shaky democracy. Traditionally the military has considered itself to be the upholder of the unified Kemalist state, which it views as critical to the survival of Turkey and more important to Turkish democracy than any given democratic election or government. The first coup d’etat by the military against the government in September 1980 was justified primarily on the basis of this “Kurdish problem”. This coup occurred before the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) began a bloody revolt, though not he first to hit Turkey, for independence in 1989. The fighting was brutal pitting a group that is considered  by the Turkish government and the US state Department to be  a terrorist organization against a hard-line army imposed martial law on the region, evacuated villages and ensured that the Turkish state would never compromise on the Kurdish issue

Turkey has been considered by many to be the link in Europe and the a Middle East, the nation that proves that democratic institutions can exist in Muslim country and can also help provide security by its membership in NATO. A successful solution to the conflict in Turkey will bring benefits not only to that nation, but to the entire region, providing a model for Kurdish minorities in other nation as well.

Although millions of Turkish Kurds are fully integrated into the political economic and social life of the nation, the Turkish Government’s pursuit of full integration has led to the proscription of publications of any book, newspaper or other material in the Kurdish language. Neither are materials dealing with Kurdish history, culture and ethnic identity permitted .There have been instances of arrest of entertainers of singing songs or performing in Kurdish. The foregoing limits on cultural expressions are a source of genuine disgruntlement to many Turks of Kurdish origin, particularly in the economically less developed southeast where they are in majority (quoted U.S. Department of State).

In my opinion, the only way to find a solution to the Kurdish-Turkish problem is to first accept that there is a problem. Next, instead of finding the differences between two cultures we have to find similarities of both cultures, so we can have a happy life in which neither side will feel like a quasi-citizen. If this is done there would not be any violence between the two groups.

As I developed and finished my research, I realized a huge mistake that I’ve been thought for a long time. Kurds are not terrorists. Terrorists can even be Turks, who have kidnapped at an early age and brought to the mountains and trained to be a terrorist against their own country; they can be Laz, Abaza or Kurd. A terrorist has a neither an ethnic group, nor face nor soul. A Kurd is not a quasi-citizen; a Kurd should not be oppressed by Turks because they have the same values that we have. I made this progress throughout this paper and I am very happy about it. How foolish I was I could not see it until now. I think sometimes it is better to live here and look at things from a different perspective, an objective one.

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Conclusion

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The Turkish Republic has apparent Kurdish national awareness as a corporeal threat to its own territorial veracity. This position was set by the Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Attaturk. Turkey’s rulers have been committed to the conquest of practically anything evocative of a separate Kurdish identity within their country. The Kurdish language has been constitutionally “prohibited by law” for use “in the expression and propagation of thought”.

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Work Cited

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Fatih, Akin, Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul.1992

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Genc, Turkler. ” 3 Apr. 2006 and 13 Apr. 2006

 

Akakurdistan. 7 Mar 2005. 13 Apr. 2006

 

Barzani, Mustafa Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iraq kdp. 13 Apr. 2006

 

Kevin, McKiernan, The Kurds: A People In Search Of Their Homeland,

First Edition, St. Martin’s Press

 

Gunter, Michael M. The Kurds in Turkey: A Political Dilemma, p.123

Namanchi, Amikam Turkey Facing A New Millennium: Coping With Intertwined                       Conflicts, p 86

Lerer, Naomi, The Table of Peace: The Status of Kurds in Turkey, Journal Title.       Harvard International Review. Volume 26. Issue 1, 2004, page 12