The Kurdish people are an ethnic group situated primarily in different regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and surrounding countries. They have a long and unique history of hardships faced in different lands and their culture is something held dear to them. Kurds who live in these different countries all have a variety of cultures built off of their surroundings, all distinctive from one another.
The practiced religion most popular amongst Kurds is Islam — most of which is from the Sunni sector. The Kurdish language is broken up into three main dialects, which are Sorani, Kurmanji and Kellhurri. For Kurds living in the different Kurdish populated regions, they have also attained the languages Arabic, Turkish, Persian and other dialects and branches.
The history of the Kurds is very important to be aware of, as there are many Kurdish historical figures who’ve had a big impact in the world, and within the establishment of different states. As we look into the early Ottoman Empire times, long before its collapse and leaders, it is known that the Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Laz, Chechens, Armenias, Greeks, Jews, Christians, Muslims and people from various backgrounds lived together on the same land in peace. Everyone respected each others beliefs and saw treated each other as family..
According to Aaron Howard from the Jewish Herald-Voice regarding a book by Karen Barkey, he states,“The Ottomans ruled more by integration and incorporation of ‘the best available’ of their minorities. Most nation-states, she [Barkey] said, are more interested in separating and restricting their minorities.”
Speaking on the perspective of Turkish Kurds, they reside in multiple Kurdish villages in cities such as Diyarbakir, Mardin, Van, Sirnak and many others around the country. Unfortunately, Kurdish culture and language was not able to be spoken and practiced publically in Turkey, as the Turkish Constitution recognizes soley Turkish to be the country’s official language. Many were persecuted and rejected for even speaking Kurdish or being affiliated with anything to do with it.
The president of Turkey, Reccep Tayyip Erdo?an, has imposed strict regulations within Turkey since the 2016 military coup attempt. Many acknowledge his regime as authoritarian and dictatorial. “Based on a string of emergency decrees passed since July 2015, scores of Kurdish media organizations, associations, language schools, and cultural institutions have been shut down,” said Constanze Letsch on The Nation.
The Turkish government has been dealing with conflicts and clashes with PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, recognized as a terrorist group by the US, EU, NATO and Turkey. This groups supposed intent is to create an autonomous and independent Kurdish state. As PKK has inflicted many terror attacks in Turkey, the consequences were faced by innocent Kurdish, Turkish and many other innocent civilians.
Abdullah Ocalan, is the founder of PKK, and his ideology is built from Marxist-Lenism including Murray Bookchins communalism. He is currently detained in Imrali island prison since 1999.
30,000 Turkish soldiers and civilians have died in PKK’s clashes since 1984 according to Daniel DeFraia on PRI.
“The PKK soon became known for its ruthless killings, though it was in 1984, when they began staging attacks from Iraq, that their military action really began,” said DeFraia.
According to The Guardian and BBC News, about 40,000 innocent civilians have been killed from PKK’s inflicted terror.
For example, a while back I was in Kizilay, walking down the street with my aunt shopping for her wedding. Policemen rushed past me with tear gas immediately filling the air and citizens rushing into nearby stores. My aunt covereds my face so it would not have an effect on me. Mostly each time I was in Kizilay during my stay, police would be spread all over the area, news would flash on the t.v. showing tanks going to the Syrian border, and we would have to avoid travel due to the ongoing bomb threats.
According to The Guardian, on their article “Turkey terror attack: mourning after scores killed in Ankara blasts,” the following year in 2016, a peace rally against clashes with the Turkish government and the PKK was targeted, and 95 people were killed with 250 wounded.
What is happening now in Rojava is that innocent civilians are being killed, and clashes with the Turkish government and PKK result in the deaths of innocent Kurdish and Turkish civilians, including many other ethnic groups living within those areas.
This conflict is absolutely not something we should take sides on, the only side that should exist is human. There are villages that both Turks and Kurds live within peace together that are the target of this eruption of violence.
When spreading awareness on the matter, it is essential that it must be acknowledged that humans of all ethnic backgrounds are paying the consequence of these corrupted politics. It’s not the fighting, groups, organizations, governments and leaders that people should be on the sides of, but the villages and towns families reside in.
People affiliate their culture and identity with this conflict, but the reality is that this separates people more when they mix it with politics. It does not matter if you’re a Turk, Kurd, Arab, Persian — what matters is that you’re hand in hand with your brother, showing the corrupted mindsets that want to seperate us that we are stronger than ever, together.