16 Apr ’14
A brief Summary of the Kurdish Issue
The Kurdish population are non-Arab Sunni Muslim people who speak a language close to Persian. They largely live in the mountainous region that spans the border of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria. This area is commonly known as Kurdistan. The states where Kurdistan occupy have all been known to repress, often violently, the Kurdish minority. The Kurds, whose population numbers are in the 20-25 million, are the largest ethnic group without their own nation.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire the Kurdish people where promised independence by the treaty of Sevres. The Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk rejected the treaty and managed to put down several uprisings. The Kurds were oppressed by the Turkish government, who tried to silence their cultural identity, outlawing their language and prohibiting traditional Kurdish costumes. Kurds in Iraq have faced similar repression. The Kurdish issue remained silent for some time until the rise of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) who are a Kurdish nationalist group advocating for independence. The PKK waged a guerilla insurgency in southeastern Turkey and has been thought of as a terrorist group. Despite having the goal for statehood the Kurdish people are far from a unified minority with many different political factions who often fight themselves. After the capture of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK, a series of terrorist acts were committed in both Turley and abroad. The Turkish government has been undergoing a series of peace talks with the Kurdish population and has negotiated a ceasefire in March 2013.
There is no guarantee that the Kurdish conflict will come to peace, but for Turkey finding a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue will not only remove vulnerability but could lead to further economic growth in Turkey.
This was a very informative post in that I did not know about the Kurdish Worker’s Party. You mention that they are thought of as a terrorist group? Is this an accurate statement? Or is it simply used by their opponents as a means of holding them down?
Do you think the violent tendencies of the PKK are undermining the Kurds’ fight for cultural recognition and independence? It seems like a government might oppose any change in repression against the Kurds while they have a political party that engages in terrorist activities.