The place of Kurdistan is a geo-cultural outcome of the Kurdish separatist movement existing in the Middle East. Kurdish identity groups number 30-40 million in total and live in the states of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. The Kurd’s make-up the world’s largest group without a state because of continuous marginalization and persecution throughout history. The historical positioning of the Kurdish identity has structured them to be agents (of a minority) in all of these states.
Contemporary groups of Kurds are the descendants of ancient Indo-European people known as Medes. The Medes identity group moved into the Middle East well over 4,000 years ago. The Kurds have their own language that has four main dialects called Kurmanji, Luri, Sorani and Zaza. Both language and history perform as salient attributes to the Kurdish identity. The Kurds have very independent tendencies and have created the area of Kurdistan to attempt to exert their sovereignty. Identity groups need spaces or territories to call their own because it is very symbolic and helps develop the meaning of an identity.
In Turkey, the Kurds have created a different separate form of self-rule because they exist as a salient cultural minority who strive for their independence. Kurdish nationalism is inherent in Kurdish identity, and over the last couple decades there has been increased conflict in Turkey because of the rise in Kurdish nationalism. Turkey has tried to suppress and control Kurdish nationalism because it remains a threat to Turkey’s secular identity. Kurdish identity groups in Turkey are challenging the dominance of Turkey’s cultural and legal supremacy, and are fighting for their own autonomy. In result of Kurdish nationalism, there has been the establishment of Kurdish political and military parties called the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and many more.
This paper particularly looks at Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and how it has been positioned by the Turkish ideology of Kemalism. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed in World War I, the allies played a vital role in shaping the modern Middle East. In 1923 the Treaty of Sèvres proposed a division of the Ottoman Empire that included an autonomous homeland for the Kurds. However, the Treaty of Sèvres was rejected by Treaty of Lausanne which did not acknowledge an autonomous Kurdistan. This paper examines the role of Kurdish parties involved in Turkish politics, discusses the different epistemologies at play between the Kurds and the Turkish government, and how this conflict is hindering Turkey’s national agenda. My goal is to understand why Kurds fail to assimilate into Turkey and to examine PKK terrorism.