As the topic brings you intune with the fact that it’s a talk about a community, I would like to introduce you to the most famous unknown group of people. You might have guessed by now that it’s about the Kurds of Kurdistan. It is said that Kurds descended from children hidden in the mountains to escape Zahhak, a child eating giant. This is not the only myth surrounding these people. The very first existence of Kurds dates back to the birth of Christ. The three Magi who traveled following a north star in observance of birth of Jesus christ were all Kurds. They are assumed to be from the Medes empire in the middle east. Another theory follows that they are the descendent from the children of slave girls of King Solomon. It is believed that Prophet Abraham’s wife Sarah was a Kurd. Nevertheless, mystery of the mountain never left them alone. With the speculation of their ancestry, one can conclude that these are the most blessed people hidden in mountains of Zagros Range running in the ridges north-west to south-east, either side of Iran border with its western neighbour. To the west mountain give way to rolling hills, to the east it level out to agricultural land and to the south it continues, inhabited by Lurs.
Kurdish is mainly divided into two major dialects: Kurmanji and Surani. There are two other minor dialects of Kurdish which is Gurani and Zara.
Why were Kurds divided?
Kurds as a community have been long asleep so as to claim their identity. They mostly were recognized as the amalgamation of different ethnicity. This might have caused due to the continuous submission pattern to the central government. The Kurds have been invaded many times. The Kurds started thinking and act as community not earlier than twentieth century. Initially Kurdish society was considered a group of nomads or different tribes. It is only since 1918 that the Kurds have been able to crush tribes and erode the kinship ideology that subjugate them. Briefly they have been invaded by Khwarezmian in 1217, Mongols in 1213, Tamerlaine in 1393, the Safadis in 1506 and the Ottoman in 1514. The Kurds have mostly served as commanders, soldiers, and warriors in wars among different empires. The Kurds were famous for the provision of troops to the Islamic armies. The Kurds actively participated in Ottoman-Safavid struggle and were enrolled in the cavalry of the standing army alongside the Turks. In this age and time , the Kurds are the only group of people using Female troop in their “Peshmerga” known as Guerrilla Fighters.
Kurdish Political Parties
PPK (Partiya Karkari Kurdistan): It is the far-left militant and political organization based in Turkey and Iraq. The group was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan. The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent Communist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan. (Source: Wikipedia)
KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party): It is one of the main Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan.It was founded in 1946 in Mahabad in Iranian Kurdistan. The party claims it exists to combine “democratic values and social justice to form a system whereby everyone in Kurdistan can live on an equal basis with great emphasis given to rights of individuals and freedom of expression.” (Source: Wikipedia)
PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan): It is a Kurdish political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PUK describes its goals as self-determination, human rights, and democracy and peace for the Kurdish people of Kurdistan and Iraq. (Source: Wikipedia)
The Story of Kurdistan is not so easy to document. It all started after World War I when this minority group was promised a state of their own but it never came into existence. One would argue what can be the reason for not materializing the establishment of state of Kurdistan. The complexities and conflicts between governments never let the issue of Kurdistan to be resolved hence the establishment of the new state of Kurdistan was put on halt for ages to come.
Currently the Kurds are spread in four countries-Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria and are suffering from oppression on each side since they do not have a country of their own. At one end they are being bombed by Turks , on the other hand they are being attacked by Iraqi regime and Iran equally held them accountable for the crimes that might not have committed. They have been displaced, murdered and kidnapped. One would wonder why any regime shall cause distress to its own people where, as an alternative the same regime can use them for the betterment of its country. Would replacing them help? Does the regime believe that they can lead without its followers? Imagine a country with no people but just the King. If you take away the Kurds from the area they reside in , who will replace them? Should a leader be cruel enough to create distress in any community? Should diversity not be welcomed? Doesn’t every culture brings something new to the table and add flavor to the country? Shouldn’t kindness be a common trait of a leader to earn the favor of its people? These are some of the questions to be answered.
This part of the world doesn’t seem to experience an ideal leadership. Kurdistan is the only area ruled by four different leaders , each one causing trouble in the area. There have been many attacks in the region but only some of the most ruthless attacks are covered here:
1. Tragedy of 8000 missing Barzani -1983
The Barzani Tribe is one of the Kurdish tribes in Iraq. The Barzani Tribe has long been in conflict with the Iraqi government. It is said that Barzanis have cooperated with the Iran during the Iran-Iraq war for which Saddam Hussein took revenge with Barzani. On July 31, 1983 around 8,000 Barzani males were openly kidnapped and subsequently executed. Those were the innocent people of the tribe who paid the price of work of small group of people who cooperate with Iran. Was Saddam’s revenge more important than humanity? Isn’t it the responsibility of the leader to solve matters peacefully rather than stooping down to the level of revenge? The people who cooperated with Iran might never be caught by any regime but those who did nothing were punished. Kurdish women have stood strong in such situations.
2. Kurdish villages were destroyed-1985
The peace negotiation between Iraqi Ba’ath party and PUK broke down in January, 1985 and Iraq got another reason to attack Kurds. The coward strategy was to destroy 15000 Kurdish villages. In my speculation it must not be those innocent people who broke the peace treaty but they were still dragged into it for no reason.
3. Halabja Chemical attack- Anfal- The Kurdish Holocaust- March 16, 1988
Anfal is the eigth chapter(Sureh) of Quran. It is the name given to the eight military campaigns conducted by the Iraqi government against rural Kurds. It lasted from the February 23rd until September 6th, 1988. The Halabja Chemical attack is one of the attacks in series of Anfal military campaign.
On the 16th March, 1988, Iraq bombarded Halabja (Kurdish town at the border of Iraq and Iran) with napalm, heavy artillery strikes and massive poison gas attacks that turned the city into an enormous concrete graveyard. Some 5,000 people died and 10,000 were injured in the attack.
4. Bombing by the Turkish , Jan 21, 2018
Four rockets fired from Syria hit the Turkish southern border town of Kilis, 40 km from Afrin, damaged houses and ten people were killed in the attack. This was an attempt to clear Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin.
5. Execution of three Kurds by Iran on 8th September, 2018.
It is never comfortable to accept the truth but it is true that Iranian government executed three Kurds without a legitimate reason. Their names were as follows:
1. Ramin Hossein-Panahi
2. Zanyar Moradi
3. Loghman Moradi
The trial for all three men was unfair. They were denied access to their lawyers and families. Even after the strict condemnation of execution of all three men from the international community, Iran issued execution order without any investigation. Such sad stories often happen in Kurdish society.
Should there be a Kurdistan?
If I have been lacking in my explanation then I apologize but the evidences so far proves that Kurds are a very independent, multicultural, just, loyal, and egalitarian group of people. With that said, this group should be welcomed with open arms ,allowing them to preserve their culture and values. An extra effort should be made to raise their status. As a matter of fact, if we do not want to coexist with other groups then what shall we make out of our society. Growth of a society is governed by how well we can incorporate diversity and emerge with the new set of principles to benefit everyone. They should not be abandoned since they stood with United States in the fight against terrorism.
In words of Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman “ Kurds have nurtured, supported and protected those who come to Kurdistan.”
Iraq has failed Kurds multiple times. Kurds were promised their own land and they should be allowed to thrive with their ideology. According to the Kurdish ideology, women have a prominent role in society.
Kurds have been fighting on 650 mile border. After the first World War, there was a concept of self determination where Kurds were promised a nation. It’s a historic injustice. Kurds have been helpful towards refugees as well. Every now and then Iraqi refugees take shelter in Kurdistan. Kurdish people support and protect Christians. Kurdistan is a safe haven for anyone who is unsafe in Iraq.
People have already started envisioning a new liberal Kurdistan. Kurdish Museum is evidence of this change. It is planned as 150,000 square-foot museum in Erbil, Iraq. It will feature exhibitions, a lecture theater, state-of-the-art multimedia educational resources, an extensive digital archive of Kurdish historical assets, as well as community center and landscaped outdoor spaces for public use.
Talks by Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman: Kurdish Regional Government Representative
A Modern History of the Kurds: David Mcdowall
Author: Sadiya Ahmad