Human Rights Watch: Turkis-Kurdish Conflict

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Throughout history and still today there have been many conflicts, wars and broken promises all over the world. These conflicts and wars include civil wars, small wars, world wars and human rights movements. One of the main problems with these are that there are innocent lives being tortured and killed. A perfect example of this takes place in the Turkish-Kurdish dilemma in a region of the world that connects Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In this report I will bring awareness to a conflict that needs to be resolved for the best interest of both parties as well as the world. I will examine the Human Rights Watch article that was published in March of 1993 by Helsinki Watch. I will look into details of killings, disappearances and torture of the Kurdish population by the Turkish government.

The Kurdish population, a population of roughly 30 million which stretches over 5 countries including Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan and Syria but mainly in Turkey, where the most number of casualties have occurred. This conflict can be considered a civil war, a small war that can lead to a world war and also a human rights matter. Although there have been steps taken recently to ease this problem there are still many unanswered questions remaining.

To fully understand the modern day Kurdish issue, we must first understand the history behind it and who the Kurds are. According to most recent census of Turkey, the Kurds make up about 20% of the population and the dominate group, the Turks, account for the remaining 80% of the population. The Kurds, often referred to as “Mountain Turks” in Turkey are a Sunni Muslim people living primarily in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran as mentioned before however, I will mainly focus on Turkey in this report.

The Kurdish people has a distinct culture that is not at all like their Turkish, Persian, and Arabic neighbors. Kurdish people have been around for a very long time however the desire for a Kurdish homeland didn’t begin until World War I. The Kurds were promised a land that they can call their own in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, however when Kemal Ataturk rose to power in the early 1920s in Turkey he denied the Kurds their own country and any political representation in Turkey. This was the very beginning of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict that has since taken many lives. Once Ataturk rejected land to the Kurds, the Kurds formed a semi-independent state called Kurdistan which now exists only in the minds of the Kurds. The Turks did not favor this and made laws against the Kurds. For example one of the laws included was not being able to speak the native Kurdish language in public places. The Turkish government made it difficult for the Kurdish people to express the culture.

These conflicts between Turkey and the Kurds also have great relevance to geography. The Kurds have historical claims to the territory that they originally originated from (southeastern part of Turkey). They have lived in the area for over 2000 years. Once the world started becoming modern and countries started to be formed the Kurds desired their own just like every other group of people. Some were successful, the Kurds were not. The Kurds are ethnically and culturally different from both the Turks and the Arabs. They speak a different language, and while all three groups are Muslim, they all practice different forms. Since Turkey and the Arab nations have their own land to practice their own language and form of religion the Kurds also wanted and still want the same. The Turkish government viewed any religious or ethnic identity that was not their own to be a threat to the state. In the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in July 1923, did not mention the Kurds by name but did declare that all citizens of Turkey should be equal before the law without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion. Though this treaty didn’t really solve much, moving to the mid to late 1900s steps...
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