Turkish Kurdistan (Northern Kurdistan) - The Turkish portion of Kurdistan is also know as Northern Kurdistan, and it covers about a third of modern-day Turkey. About 18% of Turkey's population are considered Kurds, which accounts for roughly half of all Kurds, but some of their culture has been lost due to years of ethnic cleansing by the Turk government, which continues to this day in some forms. After World War I, when this part of Kurdistan was handed over to Turkey following the success of the Turkish War of Independence, the Kurds rose up violently, as they had expected, and wished for, full independence as part of a Greater Kurdistan. The region was eventually declared a military-only zone by Turkey, and was closed to all foreigners from 1925 to 1965, during which time the Kurdish language was banned, the words 'Kurd' and 'Kurdistan' were erased from all Turkish history books, dictionaries and other literature, and the Turkish Kurds were re-titled as Mountain Turks. In the early 1980's the PKK (Kurdistan Workers party) emerged, and went on a violent campaign across Turkey, claiming tens of thousands of lives. Their goal was to create an independent Kurdish state, incorporating a large part of Turkey and parts of Iraq, Syria and Iran - a region which contains an overall majority of Kurdish people. The Turkish government has continued to use a heavy hand with any Kurds who openly seek independence, but since 1999, after the European Union gave Turkey a long-overdue ultimatum to stop human rights abuses on the Kurdish population, Turkey has relaxed laws forbidding any displays of Kurdish culture. It appears that Turkey is becoming more tolerant, and that move was also backed up by the release of four Kurdish members of the Turkish parliament, one of which was jailed because she uttered these words in the forbidden Kurdish language after taking her oath... "'I shall struggle so that the Kurdish and Turkish peoples may live together in a democratic framework". Identifying herself as a Kurd was considered an act of terrorism, and Leyla Zana was therefore sentenced to 15 years, and served 10 years before her 2004 release. Leyla Zena was further banned from joining any political party until atleast five years after her release, and the PKK have now changed their goal to gaining full cultural and political rights for all Kurd's in Turkey. But the Kurdish question, and the human rights abuses which are ongoing by Turkey, continue to help prevent the European Union from allowing Turkey to become a full member.
The Kurdish Question:
Kurdistan (Greater Kurdistan)
- Iranian Kurdistan (Eastern Kurdistan)
- Iraqi Kurdistan (Southern Kurdistan)
- Syrian Kurdistan (Western Kurdistan)
- Turkish Kurdistan (Northern Kurdistan)