Tur­key... Kur­dish is­sue

War for Peace and Democ­racy

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - Saadula Aqrawi

The Kurds are en­gaged in a strug­gle for au­ton­omy and in­de­pen­dence. They are an an­cient Mid­dle East­ern tribal com­mu­nity that has strug­gled to main­tain its iden­tity. Mostly Sunni Mus­lim, they speak an Indo-Euro­pean lan­guage and are eth­ni­cally dis­tinct from Turks and Arabs. The Kur­dish move­ments have in­cluded both peace­ful po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at win­ning ba­sic civil rights for Kurds in Tur­key, as well as armed re­bel­lion and guer­rilla war­fare, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary at­tacks on Turk­ish mil­i­tary bases, cou­pled with de­mands for a sep­a­rate Kur­dish state.

U.S. for­eign pol­icy has af­fected the sta­tus of the Kurds. This pol­icy has lacked co­her­ence and con­sis­tency. Thus, the U.S. po­si­tion on the Kurds is dif­fer­ent in Tur­key, Iran and Iraq; in each case, the pol­icy is de­signed to sup­port U.S. na­tional in­ter­ests.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Against Racism and In­tol­er­ance be­lieve that the pub­lic use by of­fi­cials of the Kur­dish lan­guage lays them open to prose­cu­tion. More­over, in­di­vid­u­als who de­fend Kur­dish or mi­nor­ity in­ter­ests in pub­lic are fre­quently pros­e­cuted un­der the Turk­ish Crim­i­nal Code.

Kurds make up more than 15% of the pop­u­la­tion in Tur­key. They speak an Indo-Euro­pean lan­guage and live in all the prov­inces of Tur­key, but are pri­mar­ily con­cen­trated in the east and south­east of the coun­try, which is largely iden­ti­fied as Kur­dis­tan.

In World War I, fol­low­ing the de­feat of the Ot­toman Em­pire, the En­tente Pow­ers sug­gested di­vid­ing up its Ana­to­lian lands in the Treaty of Sèvres. Among other things, the full ap­pli­ca­tion of the treaty would have led to the ex­pan­sion of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Ar­me­nia to in­clude re­gions such as Bitlis, Van, Erzu­rum and Trab­zon while grant­ing lo­cal au­ton­omy to the Kur­dish in­hab­ited ar­eas east of the Euphrates river and to the south of Ar­me­nia. Sharif Pasha, the Kur­dish rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the Paris Peace Con­fer­ence, reached an agree­ment with the Ar­me­nian rep­re­sen­ta­tives on De­cem­ber 20, 1919, and both par­ties made joint dec­la­ra­tions to the con­fer­ence.

How­ever, Turk­ish rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies led by Mustafa Ke­mal Atatürk re­jected the treaty as "un­ac­cept­able" and fought for to­tal con­trol of all of Ana­to­lia in the Turk­ish War of In­de­pen­dence. Sèvres was then suc­ceeded and re­placed by the Treaty of Lau­sanne which es­tab­lished, roughly, the present-day bor­ders of the Repub­lic of Tur­key. The Lau­sanne treaty not only dashed any hope of an in­de­pen­dent Kur­dish state, it also failed to con­fer upon the Kur­dish peo­ple the mi­nor­ity sta­tus (and en­tailed rights) given to the Greeks, Ar­me­ni­ans, Assyr­i­ans and Jews.

More Kur­dish re­bel­lions would oc­cur in the re­gion. The most vi­o­lent were those led by the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Party (PKK), which was founded in 1978. The war be­tween the PKK and the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment, which spanned the 1980s through into the 1990s, caused nu­mer­ous deaths and in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons on the Kur­dish side.

Since Tur­key is seen as a valu­able and ge­o­graph­i­cally strate­gic NATO ally and a bas­tion against Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ism, the U.S. has sup­ported the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment against the Kurds in Tur­key, who have de­manded their right to be rec­og­nized as Kurds.

But the Kurds are still a dis­tinct racial and lin­guis­tic group. They have a his­tory of be­ing alien­ated by the so­ci­eties sur­round­ing them, and this has man­i­fested it­self in a re­sis­tance to as­sim­i­la­tion. It is this that drives their strug­gle to gain au­ton­omy in a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.