A CONTEMPORARY OVERVIEW OF THE KURDISH CASE
Kurds are the largest nation without their own country and one of the oldest nations. Kurdish communities were ruled by their own clans that had their own habits and traditions and they also fought against each other. The land of the Kurds has been under many rulers for most of the time. Thousands of years ago there weren't such things as nationalism or nation-states. Even though there have been a lot of rulers in Kurdistan, Kurds have also ruled some parts of Kurdistan and beyond, between the 950s - the 1350s.
In the West, the best-known Kurdish leader was Saladin Ayyubi (1137/1138 - 1193), the founder of the Ayyubi dynasty. Dynasty's capital was Cairo and the borders of the dynasty extended as far as in North-Africa and Eastern Europe. Regardless of Saladin and other Kurdish rulers, Kurdish history is for the most part sad and full of disappointment. For several decades, Kurds have suffered from torture, genocide, inhumanity, and cruelty in the Middle East. The division of Kurdistan in several pieces has affected on the creation of different language dialects and cultures in the Kurdish communities. Kurdish communities have moved from one country to another for hundreds of years. Refugeeism isn't a new phenomenon. Almost all families have experienced refugeeism in the countries or to the countries.
Kurds live in west Asia in a mountainous area. The area called Kurdistan is not strictly confined but the center of Kurdistan includes the Zagros Mountains rising in the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey and the East side of the Taurus Mountains. Kurds have their own language and it includes a few dialects and many sub-dialects. Kurdistan includes parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
The Arabic-speaking countries are now in a war against Islamic State (IS) and in a battle in order to keep their country in balance; there's a civil war in Syria and Iraq is in a catastrophic situation. But the Kurds in the North have kept their ground. South Kurdistan, better known as Iraqi Kurdistan has even its own parliament and army called Peshmerga (literally: those who confront death). For years Kurds have been fighting for their rights in several countries and now more than ever there is a chance for Kurds to have one part independent; The South Kurdistan.
Large Kurdish communities live in Armenia and North Iran and they have lived there for decades. The Kurdish population is spread all over the world because of persecution and violence against them. For example during the 1950's Iraqi Government deported Jewish Kurds to Israel. Nowadays there are millions of Kurds living in Europe, North America, and Australia. Most of them have been forced to leave their homeland, just like my family. Almost all have lived in refugee camps before being selected as quota refugees.
To understand the Kurdish question we have to look back to their history and survey each country separately. The history of Kurds for the last 100 years is cruel, violent, and unjust. It's also a history of failure in politics. The first separation of Kurdistan occurred in the 16th century and had far-reaching consequences. According to authors Kristiina Koivunen and Welat Nehri, the Calderan war between Persian Shi'i Shah Ismail I and Ottoman's Sunni Sultan Selim I in 1514 has influenced on Kurdish question even nowadays. The Kurds were on the Osmans' side and the Osmans won the war. Most of Kurdistan was now under the Osmans. The Calderan war's outcome was the first separation of Kurdistan. Still, the war on border disputes between the two empires lasted for the next 300 years. Instead of cooperating, aristocratic Kurds started competing in favoring the Sultan, who had the largest part of Kurdistan. Loyalty towards the godlike Sultan, and religion, were much more important than national identity. Because of the separation, the Kurdish communities started to develop in different directions and the aristocrats and bourgeoisie chose between two major centers in the two empires (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
Turkey and the Tanzimat reform
Middle-East, as well as Europe, has been for thousands of years a place where has been constant battles for hegemony. Weakness and fears of losing power have made empire's use harsher methods on its minorities. In 19th century Ottoman Empire was very weak and Kurds wanted to grove their autonomy in the eastern Anatolia. Turks started weaken autonomy of the Kurds and launched Tanzimat by Sultan Mahmut II in 1839 in order to suppress Kurdish nationalism and rebellion. Turks weren't the only ones suppressing their minorities. Russia for example suppressed Finns in early 20th century.
Tanzimat-program's main aim was to strengthen the empire and to centralize power to the regime. The word Tanzimat meant literally reorganization. The Osmans considered the program as modern. The Osmans army was developed to operate better because of constant war in East and West side of the empire. Sultan Mahmut II was worried about letting the East side to keep their autonomy and even develop it, because eventually the West will want their share of it too. 20 years later to the Kurdish uprisings, the Greeks and the Cretans started their own freedom fights against the superpower (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
The Osmans reorganization program's result was that autonomy was taken from the Kurds. In order to get assets for the expenses of growing army, the Osmans intensified tax payment so that Kurds were denied tax exemption which they have had for hundreds of years. Kurds were forced to join the Osmans and sent to fight against other ethnic groups at the same time when the same army was fighting against the Kurds in East. For the Turks, Tanzimat meant prosperity and development but for the Kurds it was economical, political and social catastrophe. It ended Kurds autonomy and had a huge backwardly consequences. While Turks and Arabs national identity was becoming stronger because of the regime, the Kurds political development deteriorated. The Tanzimat program lasted until 1876 (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
The First World War and the outcome of it had a huge effect on the Kurdish question. Most of Kurdistan was under Ottoman Empire and when the empire fell, the Kurdish question changed radically; now other people beside the Kurdish elite became aware of Kurdish question (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
Strong Kurdish nationalism grew among the peasantry and other groups. There not might have been this strong Kurdish nationalism if Ottoman Empire had not fall. It's believed that Kurds became aware of their ethnicity because of the beginning events of 20th century. According to Koivunen Kristiina the change of minds in the Kurdish communities happened only in those areas where the old Empire existed. The East side of Kurdistan had a different development than the old Empire region. Only later on the Iranian side, the Kurds began to be aware of their rights. Later in the chapter Sevres and Lausanne I'll get back in to the aftermath of the First World War and the second separation of Kurdistan.
The Kurds in Iran and the established Republic
As has been said, after the Calderan war, most of Kurdistan fell under the Osmans influence. Areas that remained under Persian went through persecution and assimilation politic. The assimilation wasn't as strong as in Turkey. Still Kurds were a threat to Persia which could take over power.
Another reason for persecution of Kurds in Iran was that majority of Kurds were Sunni Muslims not Shi'a which was the hegemonic religion in Iran.
Kurds have fought against their suppressers in all parts of Kurdistan for hundreds of years. Kurds have also fought against each other. For decades there has been a saying among Kurds that our greatest enemies are we; Kurds are enemies to Kurds. The difficulties of being truly united and practicing a consensus politics are one of the greatest issues among the Kurds. Another problem among Kurdish elite has been lack of knowledge in international politics; Kurds have been too naïve and confiding when cooperating with others. I believe that previously mentioned problems have been the main issues when it comes to asking why Kurds don't have their own country.
There were a lot of different Kurdish uprisings in Iranian side of Kurdistan. Most of the leaders of the uprisings were from high glass families of the different clans. For example Simko Shikak (187? - 1930) who was chieftain of the Shakak tribe and whom Iranian Government assassinate in early 20th century along with other Kurdish leaders.
In the early 20th century the whole Middle Eastern region was under transition. While the superpowers tried to take over power and grow their territory, the minorities of the region were trying to establish autonomy or a new country to themselves. Some ethnic groups were trying to run for their lives because of the genocide. On the other side of the border Armenians were being killed by Ottomans. It began the refugeeism of the Christian Armenians to the other side of borders near Armenian lands.
Although the Iranians have never employed the same level of brutality or assimilation politics against its own Kurds, it has always been against to any suggestion of Kurdish separatism or establishment of Kurdistan (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992). Iran is more ethnically diverse than for example Turkey. Because of the large ethnic groups, Iran feared to give any great autonomy to the Kurds. If one has it, others will follow to demand.
Unlike Turkey, Iran has allowed Kurds to use their mother language and it has allowed Kurds to cultivate their culture (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992). It's good to keep in mind that Kurdish language and culture is much closer to the Fars than to the Turks. The religion of Osmans Empire contributed the Kurds to choose Turks rather than Fars in 16th century. And it seems that because of Iranian and Kurdish cultures are so close to each other, influenced on the fact that the Kurds were allowed to keep their culture and language alive.
It's good to keep in mind that Iranians are not one large ethnic group inside Iran. There is great amount of minorities living in Iran, such as Arabs, Turkics, and Baluchis. Iran is ethnically and religiously more diverse than Turkey, Iraq or Syria. The Kurds are proximately less than 10% of the population in Iran, far lower than in Turkey, Iraq or Syria.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Persia had become a battleground. In 1917 Britain used Persia to attack Bolsheviks unsuccessfully to reverse the Revolution. The Soviet Russia responded by annexing some parts of northern Persia, creating the Persian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Four years after British-assisted coup, in 1925 Reza Shah deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of Qajar dynasty of Persia. He established the constitutional monarchy in Iran. When Reza Shah Pahlavi came to power after the First World War, he held together the diffuse ethnic components of modern Iran by the incorporation of pliant chiefs, the extirpation of rebels and the forcible settlement of some of the large nomadic tribes (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
Between the First and Second World War, especially when Reza Shah was in power (1925-1941), the Iranian Government tried to subordinate the Kurds in Iran by all possible means. After the Simko Shikak's rebellions, the Kurds tried to fight back and organized small revolts against brutal behavior of Iranian army and authorities. Under the protection of the Brits and the Americans, the Government of Reza Shah had free hands to suppress the Kurds and other minorities in Iran. Kemal Atatürk admirer Reza Shah, tried to modernize Iran by destroying national traditions and cultures. The use of Kurdish language in teaching and in official contexts was forbidden (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
Such as the Kemalist the Iranian regime tried assimilation against minorities in order to assimilate the Kurds into mainstream society. In 1928 national costumes was banned and people were forced to use western clothing. People were arrested and beaten for different kind of reasons. The dictator and the whole regime were corrupted (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
After the treaty of Saadabadin in 1937 between Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan people's lives became increasingly more fragile especially for people living near borders. People were arrested much easily than before when crossing borders (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013).
The danger of fragmentation in modern Iran became evident in the Second World War, so that in 1941 the allies occupied Iran with the help of Soviet Union and Britain. Hitler friendly Shah had to step aside in September 1941. Unfortunately for the people, Reza Shah's son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi became a new Shah of Iran (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
Superpowers divided Iran between themselves. Soviet Union got the northern parts of the country near its border line and England the southern parts. Because of the occupation, Eastern-Kurdistan was divided in to three sections. Kurds got control of the zone between Soviet's and Britain's areas (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
The absence of Iranian army in Eastern-Kurdistan gave a good opportunity to Kurds to practice conductive politics. Kurdish activists met each other and discussed about things that were forbidden earlier. Kurds began to organize by establishing organizations. This still didn't mean that the large Kurdish population was aware of their Kurdish identity. Only the nobilities fight politically and were practicing nationalism. Only high class people influenced strongly on the Kurdish cause.
In January 22, 1946 in city of Mahabad Qazi Muhammad declared Kurdistan as an independent country in Kurdish (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013). Qazi Muhammad was a Kurdish political leader and head of the Republic of Kurdistan, the second modern self-declared Kurdish state in the Middle East after the Republic of Ararat that was established by central committee of Xoybun party on October 28, 1927/1928 (Kurdish Republic of Ararat, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdish_Republic_of_Ararat, 4.9.2015).
The Republic of Kurdistan included just third of the whole Eastern Kurdistan surface area. Also Azerbaijan had gone through same kind of freedom movement as Kurdistan under the control of Soviet Union.
Soviet Union wasn't ready to accept new born Kurdish Republic. Not a single country recognized Kurdistan as an independent country. The status of Kurdistan was fragile even though it had its own flag, national anthem, army, president, Prime Minister and 13 other Ministers (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
The Kurdish republic of Mahabad was extremely small, unable to co-operate the Kurdish towns of Saqqiz, Sanandaj and Kermanshah in south, which fell under the Britain zone, and unable to attract the clans outside Mahabad to the nationalist cause. The leaders of the clans were reluctant to jeopardize the relationship they had established with Teheran during the 1930s (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
On March 26, 1946, due to pressure from Western Powers including the United States, the Soviets promised the Iranians that they would pull out from northwestern Iran. In June, Iran reasserted its control over Iranian Azerbaijan. The leaders of Azerbaijan fled to Soviet Union before Iranians invade (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013). In the event, thousands of people died. Kurdish leaders followed closely the events happening in the neighboring area of Azerbaijan. The attack to Azerbaijan had a huge effect on the Kurdish case in Iran. It isolated Republic of Mahabad, eventually leading to its destruction.
The Kurds did not want the same happen in Kurdistan; they did not want to make the same mistake. The Mahabad Republic leaders had a trust in the administration of Tehran and their promises (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
The economic problems had weakened Kurds defense capability, so that the Kurdish leaders under the supervision of Qazi Muhammad did not see self-defense as an option (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013). As a result, when the Soviets withdrew from Iran in 1946, government forces were able to enter Mahabad without a problem. Kurdish clans did not want to fight Iranians and support the republic of Mahabad. Many tribes began to flee from the region. Qazi Muhammad did not see any other option than a massacre upon Kurdish civilians rather than Kurdish rebellion. This forced him to avoid war at all cost, even if it meant sacrificing himself for his people.
Iranian army arrested Kurdish leaders December 1946. Iranians invalidated everything that the Mahabad Government had established. Teachings and publishing in Kurdish was forbidden. Kurds faced even more brutal subjection. Qazi Muhammad was executed with the other leaders in Mahabad, March 1947. Many Kurds see Qazi Muhammad as a great leader and a hero who died for the Kurdish cause.
The Republic of Mahabad depended on Soviet's support. Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, wrote in "The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad" that a main problem of the People's Republic of Mahabad was that the Kurds needed the assistance of the USSR; only with the Red Army did they have a chance. However, this close relationship to the USSR alienated the republic from most Western powers, causing them to side with Iran. Qazi Muhammad did not deny that his republic was funded and supplied by the Soviets, but did deny that the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) was a communist party. He claimed that this was a lie fabricated by the Iranian military authorities, and added that his ideals were very different from the Soviets' (Republic of Mahabad, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Mahabad, 4.9.2015.)
Like the Treaty of Sevres, the Mahabad Republic is regarded wistfully by many Kurds as a moment of great promise. But what they may not know is that, the promise was only a political game for Soviet and others to gain hegemony in the new era after the great World Wars.
Kurdish nationalism went underground after the fall of Mahabad. It continued to be seen as a threat, not only by the Iranians but also by the Kurdish landlord class, into whose hands 1/3 of the lands of Kurdistan now passed, leaving just a negligible territory of what a century earlier must all have been tribally held (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
Sevres & Lausanne
The 19th and 20th centuries were era of Kurdish rebellions and uprising. It had huge consequences on Kurdish people. The whole Middle Eastern region was undergoing a mass change in economics and especially in politics and in new country borders.
The Ottoman Empire was defeated by the Allies in 1918, so that entirely new order was ushered in by this defeat. British forces occupied large parts of Mesopotamia. Allies plans for peace settlement was to divide remaining Osmans Empire in to pieces, allocating parts to Greece, Russia, Italy and France. The collapse of Tsarist Russia in 1917 and internal upheaval in Turkey by the collapse of Ottoman Empire made Turks see such plans impracticable, therefore they were against it (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
U.S President Woodrow Wilson had proposed the "principles of civilization" in his Fourteen Point Program for World Peace, point 12 of which stated that the non-Turkish minorities of the Ottoman Empire should be "assured of an absolute unmolested opportunity of autonomous development". In view of the Armenian genocide in 1915 by the Turks, it was well-founded sentiment but one which wouldn't likely have a realistic aspirations among different ethnic groups of the old Empire.
Many, not least the aghas, still felt they were Sunni Muslim subjects of a fundamentally Islamic Empire and had no interest to boost Kurdish cause in fear of losing their own status or it might chance for the worse if some kind of Kurdistan was to be born (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
The outcome of Allies' deliberation was the Treaty of Sevres, signed reluctantly by the Osmans in August 1920. For Kurds, Sevres meant envisaged interim autonomy for the predominantly Kurdish areas of Turkey. And furthermore, if the inhabitants of the region wanted, they could have full independence including those falling in British-occupied province of Mosul. It must be said that the proposal would have triggered new conflicts, between Kurds and other groups and among Kurdish tribes themselves. Especially with Armenians and Assyrian Christians, whose lands overlapped and intermingled with areas where Muslim Kurds predominated. Proposal might have also triggered large conflict between rival Kurdish clans, each bent upon achieving predominance first in its own region and later in the whole Kurdish region (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
Turkish officer Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk: The father of the Turks) played his own role in, Kurds not having their autonomy and independence in early 1900s. Kemal was the first president of the newborn country of Turkey that was built in the ruins of the old Ottoman Empire.
He repudiated his government's submission at Sevres, raised the flag of revolt in the name of the Muslims of Anatolia, and drove out Christian forces in west and the east. Many Kurdish aghas and their tribes joined Atatürk in a belief that they were fighting for the Muslim Patrimony in which they had a share (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
The Treaty of Lausanne was a peace Treaty signed in Switzerland in 1923. It officially ended the conflict that existed between the Allies and the Turks. It was a second attempt at peace after failed Treaty of Sevres, where the Turkish national movement later rejected the Peace agreement. They fought against previous terms and significant loss of territory. The Treaty of Lausanne ended the conflict and defined the borders of modern Turkish Republic. Turkey gave up all the claims of the remainder of the Ottoman Empire and in return the Allies recognized Turkey within its new borders.
Unfortunately the treaty of Lausanne in early 20th century did determinate the destiny of the Kurds to these days; Sevres agreement in 1920 gave Kurds the possibility to have their own country. Treaty of Sevres was the closest the Kurdish people ever got to statehood (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992). Three years later it was replaced by peace treaty of Lausanne that took all of the hopes from Kurds.
It has only recently come to light that Atatürk plotted against Kurds in 1923 with the idea of autonomy. The idea was never discussed publicly, let alone implemented (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
You can say that Kurds were naive and were more active in the name of religion than in the name of Kurdish cause. It is not just in 1920s when Kurdish people were played by others. As recently as in 1990s Iran plotted against its own Kurds using help of Iraqi Kurds and vice versa during the Iraq-Iran war. Both Iraq and Iran used neighboring Kurds against each other often without them knowing that they're fighting against their own people. The purpose was to use Kurds on the other side to defeat the neighboring country.
However, when the borders of Syria, Iraq and Iran were finally stabilized by the 1940s, Kurds in all parts found their prospects greatly altered. The common feature with all these four countries was to subordinate Kurds to essentially non-Kurdish but ethnically nationalist governments (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.) Assimilation and violence politics outcome was repeated conflicts and even growing nationalism among Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan.
The assimilation politics was extremely strong especially in Turkey, where Atatürk established the idea of one nation, one country and one religion. My Kurdish friend Kiymet Ser originally from West part of Kurdistan (Turkey) summit well the assimilation politics practiced in Turkey in a sentence: "My grandmother speaks only Kurdish, she doesn't speak much Turkish, my mother and father both speak Kurdish and Turkish, I know just little Kurdish and my children only speak Turkish. They don't speak Kurdish because I don't speak Kurdish." Her story about suppression of Kurdish language in Turkey is shared by millions of other Kurds.
Kurdish question today
With higher proportion of the national population per cent than in either Iran or Turkey, the Kurds have repeatedly challenged the authorities in Iraq. While Kurds in Iraq have had good reason to claim greater say in their own and national affairs, the government in Baghdad can also claim it has gone further than its neighbors in offering formal autonomy. But distrust between the Kurds and authorities have led to long lasting conflicts between partakers in which the Kurdish civil population has been the primary victim (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
When Britain occupied Mesopotamia from Turkey in 1918 it was unsure what to do with the mountainous Kurdish areas on the north and eastern borders. Its uncertainty was compounded by the Kurdish claim to Kirkuk, which was mixed city, but set in predominantly Kurdish hinterland. Because of large oil resources, Britain or any other authority in Baghdad could not abandon control of this valuable area (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
There was deep disunity among Kurds themselves. Some of the clans to the north of the Greater Zab River wished to be reunited with the Kurdish tribes north of the new Iraqi-Turkish border. This reflected major dialect divide between Kurmanji speaking Kurds and those speaking Sorani Kurdish, south of the Greater Zab (eastern Iraq). There was great geographical disunity among the Iraqi Kurds (Kreyenbroek and Sperl, 1992.)
It is not surprising that Kurds were among themselves disunited. Separatism among Kurdish population didn't occur in early 20th century. Nationhood or being Kurdish weren't the most important things for ordinary peasants at that time.
Kurdistan was divided many times between neighboring nations. Dialects and family clans were divided and moved to different areas many time over the 20th century. Just recently I found out that my family's lands were earlier inside of the territory of former Iraq. The consequences of the Iraq-Iran border disputes and conflicts over the late 20th century were that hundreds of families changed from being Iraqi Kurds to Iranian Kurds. Due to the forced displacements and border disputes of the four states, Kurds have constantly exchanged their homeland.
It was after 1970s when ordinary Kurds living in rural areas started to deeply realize that in order to free Kurds, Kurds needed to unite and fight together. The struggles that all Kurds in all four parts went through united Kurds in their deep pain and dissatisfaction towards their host States.
Southern Kurds (Iraqi Kurds) were united as a result of Iraq-Iran war in 1980s. The awareness of Kurdishness and suppression of the large ethnic Kurdish population created new powerful forces inside Kurdistan in order to fight enemies. Most well-known forces globally are Peshmerga (literally: those who face death) and PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). There was small number of security guards here in there inside Kurdistan securing Kurds but later in late 20th century it was realized that parties and armed forces must be established.
Kurds have being forced to unite and form armed forces. Without defense changes for some freedom would have been highly limited, especially when it's known that Kurds have been victims of genocide and mass murders. Even today the politics against Kurds is cruel; it is seen in Turkey and in areas ruled by ISIS.
One of the most unknown genocide case happened in 1938 when Turkey killed tens of thousands of Kurds in Dersim. But one of the worldwide known cases happened in Iraq when Dictator Saddam Hussein started the Anfal campaign against Kurds in 1988 using chemical weapons. According to Human Rights Watch report, between 50 000 and 100 000 people died in the chemical gas attack. The worldwide known attack happened in Helebce city in 1988. The amount of the chemical weapons used in Helebce was higher than in any other parts of the world after World War I. Helebce case was just one of the many attacks against the Kurds.
International community has a hard time to recognize the mass murders of the Kurds because it would force them to look on all four countries cases where Kurds live. The previously mentioned mass killings are not unconnected to each other; it is a continuum of mass killings. Just like in the case of the Jews in World War II, Hitler did not start the mass killing of the Jews; they were mass killed for thousands of years (Koivunen & Nehri, 2013.)
There was a huge demonstration moves in Iran in 1978 that started the revolution in the country. Aim was to take down Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi from power. The people of Iran did not like the changes they saw the Shah doing. They saw Shah trying to make Iran like Europe where people did not go by obeying Koran. Unpopularity of the Shah was also a result of wide spreading poverty in Iran while Shah was having his own fun. Shi'i Muslim Ajatollah Khomeini wanted to be an "answer" for getting Shah off the power. Most of the Muslims living in Iran are Shi'i and Kurds are Sunni which is the largest Muslim group.
The Kurds in Iran had very huge part on the realization of the revolution because they wanted to improve Kurdish rights and social status in the country. The religious leader Ajatollah Khomeini who was the new leader of Iran after Shah Pahlavi had fled the country had promised the Kurds an autonomous region inside Iran. After coming to power, Khomeini took back his many promises and started to do opposite than he had promised the people before coming to Iran from Paris. Kurds were called as rebellions and acts of war were started against them. They were also called infidels because of being Sunnis. Tens of thousands of Kurds fled from the country including my family. My family went to North Iraq (South Kurdistan) and after one year, they, along with thousands of other Iranian Kurds were settled in refugee camp in Iraq near Baghdad by Saddam Hussein.
The Kurdish religious minority (today) the Yazidis have been under threat of mass murders since spreading of Islam in the region. In 2007 Islamic States (IS) Islamists suicide bombers blow themselves up in Sinjar Iraq, killing Yazidi Kurds. Since IS coming to power they have killed, raped and sold Yazidi girls and women in slave markets in areas they control in Iraq and Syria, and they are still doing so to this days.
Turkey's role in the war is highly controversial. There is evidence that Turkey is letting the terrorists cross borders and that it is helping ISIS against Kurds. It seems that Turkey is playing a dangerous game. Will it let the Kurds win or ISIS that is hated by the world? Turkey most to know, that eventually ISIS will be defeated, and Kurds want their country established. It seems that it is better to help terrorists against Kurds to weaken them in order to not Kurds establish Kurdistan, because eventually the world would not let the caliphate live long.
Killing and torturing Kurds do not stop in refugee camps. We know that killing and torturing happens still today in Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria either by the government or by IS.
There is a political power behind invented words like Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish or Syrian Kurd. Just like I could say I am a Finnish Kurd. But thankfully I have the right to choose being called Finnish Kurd or to call myself that. It's a trend nowadays that Kurds do not like to be labeled as a Kurd of a certain country that has suppressed Kurds. Kurds want to call themselves just as Kurds or Kurd form the Southern Kurdistan for example, without using country's name.
This world is unstable and unpredictable and it's also very unfair. A child cannot choose his/her parent's neither the child can choose the country he/she is born. The reality is very sad and the politicking and greedy makes it worst. What I can do, is to be grateful of the learning I have got due my history and to do my best to help my people. History is made by people and we as a people can choose who is doing history on our behalf.
The future of the Kurds is an unwritten. What is certain is that most of the Kurds all over the world would like to see Kurdistan established. It is, pity and largely our fault that we do not have our independent country. It is time to be critical towards ourselves and increase political expertise. Only by uniting and seeing ourselves as a part of change movement, we truly can see Kurdistan independence one day. It is time for the largest stateless nation to have their own country.
Koivunen Kristiina and Nehri Welat (2013) Kurdistan itsenäisyyden kynnyksellä? KLEIO
McDowell David (2000) A Modern History of the Kurds. I.B. Tauris
Yildiz Kerim (2005) Turkki, kurdit ja EU. LIKE
Kreyenbroek Philip G. and Sperl Stefan (1992) The Kurds: a contemporary overview. ROUTLEDGE