Kurds in the Middle East- Oppressed and neglected indigenous rights

  • 4 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • October 3, 2022

Oh, the unfortunate story of the biggest Ethnic community without a land.

Sometimes I like to call them the Israelis without land because they are truly the prime example of what would have happened to Jews if they wouldn’t take a claim for a small piece of land. The Kurds are about 35 million people strong and reside in a region between Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.

They were first recorded as united people in the 10th century and flourished during the 12th century when the first sultan of Egypt and Syria was actually descended from Kurdish ethnicity. This is just if there was any doubt that the Kurds have a long deep connection to the land where they reside.

When different Middle Eastern tribes started claiming independence from the occupying Ottoman, British and French rule, there was heavy uncompromising pressure from the Arab to share any land they considered their own unreasonably. Unfortunately, the Kurds have been overlooked and were neglected to gain land to which they are clearly indigenous to.

And Unlike the Jews, the Kurds did not have the resources and the know-how to fight for something that they clearly deserved.

Unfortunately, not having a small piece of land to call your own in the middle east means that you become an oppressed minority in countries known to already treat their own people like crap.

In Turkey, the Kurds have continuously struggled to keep the culture alive, experiencing quite a few massacres throughout the last century to ensure they know their place. Many Kurds currently living in a borderline space in Turkey consider themselves as people with a Kurdish culture but a Turk nationality. This is really sad because the country never accepted the Kurds as part of their own population and is constantly seen as the enemy or opposition of the Turkish government. It got worse after the Kurdish PKK group was considered a terrorist organization in 2016. The same year, the Turkish government reported that more than 2,000 Kurds insurgents were killed.

In Iran, the Kurdish daily story is not better. The Kurds are left in poverty, and their social, economic, and cultural rights have been continuously repressed. In the ’80s the Kurdish rebellion were defineding agains’t the iranian regime that was determined to fight the Kurdish culture, which resulted in 10,000 death and 200,000 displaced. Until today, the children of Kurdish families do not have equal access to education. Kurds public association and economic activities are highly controlled by the irianian army. Most of the time, the Kurds are arrested without apparent reason and tortured against the law.

In Syria, the YPG, which is the armed forces of the Syrian Kurdistan, has been fighting the ISIS organization and trying to protect the zone with their own army. For a short time, US forces were operating side by side with the Syrian Kurdish army, but now, the Kurds have been left alone and feel betrayed and abandoned, and they are right. Turkey took this as an opportunity to attack Syrian Kurdistan in 2019 in the name of a fake self-defense tactic that was no more than an excuse to continuing and ethnic cleansing and send the Kurds farther from the borderline with Turkey.

But nothing is worse than the Genocide and massacres caused in Iraq during the Sadam Hussein era, where hundreds of thousands of Kurds have been killed, seriously injured or deported. This genocide included chemical weapons used equally for men, women, children, and newborns. The government of Hussein had the mission to erase the Iraqui Kurdish population from the face of the earth. The exact number of deaths was not confirmed, but the Kurds made their way to the occident where they could speak about all the atrocities they suffered in Iraq. Many Kurds that were  interviewed by international organizations said that the number of killings got over 100,000. The common feeling of the victims was, why nobody asked or talked about it even if they knew about the massacre? And while the world ignored their pain, thousands of Kurds had to leave their villages to look for a safer place, and until now, it seems that the Kurdish people are still not safe.

The Kurds have been denied the legal opportunity to own a house or a small business outside the Kurdish territories, they are persecuted even outside the middle east.

Till today all four oppressive countries where the Kurds reside have no interest in an independent Kurdish country, not even in the neighbor’s countries because they are afraid it will promote an uprising. The good news is in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, the Kurds do actually have autonomy and their own political system. While they are still discriminated against, this region is the real hope for a true country of its own. All they are missing is for someone to care, for a country with influence to lobby for them. Finally, making a home for this 35 million-strong ethnicity is being long overdue and very much deserved. The connection to the region cannot be disputed, and their identity is unquestionable. There is no doubt that they are indigenous to the region and deserve their own. Having an independent Kurdistan in the middle east might be the fresh air we need and will be a way to compensate or at least an intention to compensate these people for all the persecution, violence, and pain they have faced for decades.

The Kurds are an example of what happens to an indigenous ethnicity in the middle east that does not fight for their rights. So keep that in mind next time you criticize Israel.


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