Fifteen percent of the people located inside Turkish-claimed territory are Kurds. The Kurdish people actually live in a territory interrupted by the borders of five different countries: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia. Maimed, maligned, and marginalized for generations the Kurdish peoples have steadfastly maintained their social, economic, political and cultural identity as a people distinct from their neighbors. As happened and continues to happen with indigenous peoples the world over, kings, popes and potentates have sought to divide and conquer the Kurds.
As if by malicious magic in Iraq, the United States was forced into protecting the Kurds in that state from Iraqi trepidations and invasions when Saddam Hussein’s regime invaded Kuwait. That protection from Iraq gave the Kurds breathing room to begin restoring their economy, culture and society.
Iran’s regime continues to persecute Kurds in their northwestern territory while Syria does the same.
Turkey warred against the Kurds where more than 40,000 people suffered and died. Now, in part because of Turkey’s desire to enter the European Union and in a small part because of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), Turkey’s government begins to discuss changes in its violent policies against the Kurds.
Turkey’s Parliament will begin discussing officially allowing the Kurdish language in media and schools. They will consider returning the Kurdish names for cities and towns and removing the Turkish ones. The discussions will actually give recognition to the official existence of the Kurds.
State’s governments must bend as Turkey is beginning to bend to the slowly developing global consensus: Indigenous peoples are distinct peoples who have the right to freely determine the own social, economic, political and cultural future without external interference–or so says the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
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