Oppression Between Kurds And Turkey

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Dating back to the Ottoman Empire, tensions between Kurds and Turkey were apparent. As a newly formed Republic emerged in 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a strong sense of nationalism engulfed the country. Many aspects of society went through a period of Turkification. Turkey refused to acknowledge any other ethnic group within its borders, a stringent language policy was implemented, and virtually all non-Turkish elements of society were suppressed. Policies were implemented and enforced with harsh jail penalties and censorship of the media was brutal. The problem with all of these policies is that Kurds are not Turkish, they are an ethnically distinct group of people living in the contiguous mountain zones bordering Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. They are a very proud people with a strong cultural and linguistic identity whom, over the past century, have been subjected to intense scrutiny and oppression by Turkish regimes. Through this oppression we see attempts in the 1920’s and 1930’s at Kurdish autonomy with the eventual development of the PKK in 1978. This terrorist organization is run by Abdullah Öcalan, and their intentions are to obtain cultural and political rights for the Kurds as well as an autonomous government separate from Turkish rule. Since the first armed attack against Turkish soldiers in 1984, the campaign of the PKK has used armed violence to pursue its goals. Such tactics include kidnappings of government officials, destruction of infrastructure to prevent investment in Kurdish inhabited regions, firefights with the Turkish military, and drug trafficking to generate funds. The Kurdish problem has claimed the lives of around 35,000 people, displaced even more, and has created economic and p... ... middle of paper ... ...of this conflict has been detrimental to the advancement of not only Turkey but the rest of the region as well. Though there are still hurdles to overcome, advancements have been made in international relations through peace and military agreements, Kurdish political parties, though treading lightly, have gained more support and influence within the government, and the KRG has become an economic partner to Turkey as well as other international players such as the United States. The Kurdish question is one of complexity that requires cooperation on both sides and a dilution in armed conflict. Nationalist ideals must be put aside in order to improve human rights, which can offer solutions to equality while increasing prosperity for the entire region. Once Kurds are treated as equals, the terrorism will stop, investment will increase and prosperity for all will occur.
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