Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why should the Kurds not have the right to choose their destiny?

By Sait Keskin

The Kurds have inhabited the land they inhabit today for more than 4000 years, according to oriental anthropologists. This land has also been the home of many great civilisations in ancient history, such as Sumer, Assyria, Erastus, Media and Pars. Also, many great powers have occupied Kurdish land, such as the Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Mongolians.

We, the Kurds, have always lived in our homeland without causing any trouble for our neighbours. The question is, “Why have we always been attacked by our neighbours, and our basic human rights, even the natural right of existence, always been denied by them?”

This is a very important research question for Kurdish students at any university anywhere in the world. We have hosted so many of our neighbours with great hospitality but in the end, we have not been shown any appreciation. Instead, we have been massacred by them, and they have denied even our basic natural rights. A primary example would be Turkey.

In 1070, when the first Selcuki Turkish knights arrived in Kurdistan, we welcomed them, fighting together until the Ottoman Empire was established. After many centuries of mutual success, the Ottomans began denying our rights. From the 1800s onward, we have been in conflict with our guests and neighbours, the Turks. A thousand years ago, they were our guests and today, they do not even accept our right to exist. What can we do?

For 200 years, we have been fighting for our freedom. Unfortunately, we have not been successful. We must assess and evaluate our past. Why have we not yet built an apparatus to protect us? Why have we always been foolish enough to trust easily and become ruled by our neighbours? Why have the past 200 years of resistance not produced any victory?

In the case of the south region of Kurdistan, we have always been very optimistic and we see the gains being made there as the gains of all Kurds from the other three regions as well. However, we should not forget that these gains are threatened regularly by all of our neighbours. They do not want the Kurds to be free on their own soil and governing themselves.

Even a country as big as France, with a population of more than 40 million and one of the richest lands in the world, was divided into four parts after the WWI. More importantly, with 200 years’ history of resistance, why can we not convince our Turkish neighbours to allow a federal system or a parliament in Amed (Diyarbakir)? Why does Turkey want to claim North Cyprus as part of the Turkish state, while they do not accept even basic education in Kurdish in the north part of Kurdistan? They say that if they allow education in Kurdish, the Kurds will ask for independence. The Kurdish representatives are trying to convince them that there is no threat of dividing Turkey into Kurdistan and Turkistan, but again, they do not accept. They only accept one nation, one flag, one language and one country. When there is oppression in Bulgaria, Cyprus or Kirkuk of Turkish minorities, Turkey protects and defends them at all costs. When it comes to Kurds, we are denied everything.

This is my question, “Why should we not unite and bring a case to the United Nations, European Union, NATO and the Islamic Conference to ask them, according to international norms and values, why our rights have not been protected under any international agreements? Why should we not have the right of self-determination? Why we should not have education in our language? Why should we not be governed by our own educated administrators?

The south part of Kurdistan is the best example; from the primary school to the university, education is in Kurdish. Just as they have been successful, we can be even more successful, if we unite and fight by peaceful means to decide our own destiny.

Sait Keskin, Exeter University, Studying MA in Kurdish Studies