The Kurds, which are politically not recognized at international level are one of the biggest population groups in the world without own state and after Arabs, Turks and Persian fourth biggest etno-national groups in the Middle East. They have been always the subject of human right violation, genocide in their home land and their existence is denied.
The Kurds inhabit the mountainous region that overlaps parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, which is described as extremely rugged mountains of the Zagros range. Their mountainous settlement area, that is defined by the German author Karl May as “wild Kurdistan” is the best and only friend of Kurdish people as they serve to Kurds for protection from attacks as well as hiding-place from attempts to assimilation policy of states oppressing Kurds.Non settlement regions of Kurds are recognized as independent. They are politically persecuted by the Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian states that have deprived them of their culture and language. Although the Kurds in Iraq have been granted the autonomous self-governance, many of their territories such as Kerkuk, Xanekin etc. are annexed by Iraqi authority. These disputed regions have to be decided according to the Iraqi constitution through the referendum, but the Iraqi government does not carry out the act 140 of the constitution.
There is no indication about accurate number of the Kurdish population, which dispersed around the word, as they do not possess the citizenship of their own state. They are registered as Turks, Iraqis, Iranians or Syrians etc. However, many Kurdish academic institutions and organizations estimate the number of Kurdish people more than 40 million.
There is less unambiguous information on the origin of Kurdish people. Some authors assume that the origin of Kurdish people is rooted in Mesopotamia, while some others argue that the Kurdish people are a tribe from Central Asia. According to McDowell, the notion “Kurdish” had used by Arabic conquerors and they discovered in 637 a group of tribe people in Mesopotamia, whose language was Kurdish. Later on, the Kurdish people had taken on a central role in Sassanid Empire.
Until the end of 19th century, the Kurdish tribes were also for other two empires crucial for two reasons: On the hand, the Kurdish people were recruited as soldiers for their fights against the foes and insurgents; on the other hand, the Kurds inhabited strategically important territory, border region between both empires, Ottoman Empire and Safavid Dynasty. The Kurdish tribes were particularly in time of wars vital important, as they were able to serve during war as soldiers to the empires. In return, the Kurds were given promises for local independence as well as local self-governance. However, the demands of Kurdish people were not in sense of national awareness neither in Ottoman Empire nor in Safavid Empire to be at national level independent but rather at the tribe level.
The most relevant vision of all ethno-national groups was about religious and local membership but not national one. For example, in Ottoman Empire, the Muslim and non-Muslim people were divided according to their religion. The non-Muslim citizens were discriminated in the Millet-System of the Ottoman Empire. The Kurdish people lived in peace on territories, which were controlled by the administration of Ottoman Empire. Under power of the Ottoman Empire, the national state and self-determination was not essential. With fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War in 1920, the ideas of nationality started fostering among many ethno-national groups lived on the territory of collapsed empire in the Middle East. On the territory of collapsed empire, formation of the nation states and process of nation-building aroused speedily, which the Kurds dismissed to begin with their formation of own nation. Within framework of the process of state-building in the Middle East, the Kurds began to be divided among severel new founded states and they were deprived of their national. The denial of Kurds and other minority identities was a necessary condition for the construction of national identity in the new created states. The Muslim people were forced to assimilation to the Turkish identity and non-Muslim minorities such as Armenian were either expelled with violence or even exterminated by the new founded Young Turks, as they did not fit to the Turkish-Islamic concept. Therefore, in 1915 began the Turks to commit genocide against Armenian, as the Turks regarded the Non-Muslim as disloyal to the Turkish authority in the conflict with Christian forces.
However, the American President, Woodrow Wilson declared Fourteen Points for the World Peace in 1918, which assured the Kurds as well as Armenian the Self-determination rights, that led to the Treaty of Sévres in 1920. According to section III, Article 62, Kurdistan gained right to be autonomous and according to Article 64 Kurdistan was scheduled to hold referendum within a year in order to decide its fate in terms of its independence.
Conversely, the Treaty of Sévres was not recognized by Turkey, as the Kurds was achieving the independence. The Turkish refusal towards the Treaty of Sévres was accepted by British authority in order to keep its control over oil-rich regions such as Mosul in Iraq. Thus, the Treaty of Sévres was ceased to be in force and the Treaty of Lausanne as peace treaty was signed in 1923. The Kurds were incompetent to attend the negotiation and signing respectively of the Treaty of Lausanne, as the Turks affirmed to the negotiators that the Kurds were a part of Turks and they were not separate. The Turks did not call the existence of the Kurdish people as ethnic group during the negotiation process for the Treaty of Lausanne into question. The Turks stated rather that the Kurds waged the war of independence and cooperated with the Turks shoulder to shoulder and they are not required to be treated as privileges such as Non-Muslim minorities. As the Treaty of Lausanne was signed and the Turks left the Lausanne, they abolished the legal status of Kurds and considered Kurds as “Turks of Mountains”, although the Kurds are not related even little to Turks culturally and lingually or historically and sociologically. The Kurds live “de jure” as much as “de facto”, divided among four states as an ethno-national population group.
The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne means the separation of the Kurdish territory between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria and beginning of assimilation towards the Kurdish people through the disavowal of Kurdish ethno-national identity and oppression of the Kurdish people by above mentioned four states, which Kurds reacted with permanent resistances on as dialectics of denial and resistance.
Turkey has changed its position towards the Kurds after signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, as the Turkish authority enhanced the pressure against the Kurdish population, banned the words such as Kurd and Kurdistan. Using the Kurdish language was treated as crime according to the Turkish constitution and the Kurdish parties, organization, median books etc. regarded as strictly illegal
In terms of religion and language, the Kurds are strongly regarded heterogeneous. However the religion does not play any essential role for building their national identity. While the principal religion of the Kurds is Sunni Islam, there are significant Shiite, Christian and Jewish minorities. Yazidism or the “cult of the angels” is also a minor belief. The Kurdish society is made up of different traditional tribes and organized very hierarchical. Locally, the relative relationship and individual tribes impacts the Kurdish society. According McDowall, the dominant tribal image indicated a society based upon kinship ideology und tribe or tribal section also possesses a strong sense of territorial identity alongside ideas of ancestry.
The Kurds speak language that belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language. Kurdish is own language that differs from Turkish and Arabic. According to Amir Hassanpour, the Kurdish language has four main dialects, Kurmanci, Sorani, Gorani and Avrami. The majority of Kurds, particularly from North Kurdistan (Turkey) and South-West Kurdistan (Syria) speaks the Kurmanci- Dialect. The second largest group Sorani-Dialect is spoken by Kurds from South and East Kurdistan (Iraq and Iran). Gorani und Avrami- Dialects are used by minority of Kurds from North and South and East Kurdistan. There is no universal script for the Kurdish language The script in use depends on the geo¬graphic location. In Iran and Iraq, for instance, the language is written using a modified Arabic script, while, in Turkey and Syria, the Latin script is used. In the erstwhile Soviet Union, Kurdish was written using the Cyrillic alphabet.
However, Kurdish language has been mingled with Turkish Arabic and Persian languages and marginalized in the course of the assimilation policy by above-mentioned states that the Kurds were forced to learn the languages of dominant groups.
Cognition and usage of symbols are also not consistent, as they are inversely regarded in every Kurdish region. In contrast, the Kurdish flag, hymn, Kurdish poets such as Ehmedê Xanî, Cigerxwîn and singer Sivan Perwer und Shakiro could be understood as identity- forming features for the majority of Kurdish people. The Poems and songs of the above-mentioned Kurdish personalities receive special attention of the Kurds, for example, the song of Sivan Perwer, “Halabja” triggers emotional reaction amongst the Kurds from every single part of Kurdistan. The identification with these symbols causes the feeling of togetherness between the Kurdish people.
Likewise, meaning of the mythology and tradition among the Kurdish people should not be neglected. For example, Newroz means for the Kurds not only the begin of the spring or the New Year, as many ancient-Iranian consider, but it implies also for the Kurds the victory of the blacksmith Kawa over pitiless ruler Dehak in the Kurdish mythology. Therefore, the celebration of Newroz associated for the Kurds with fundamental demands for freedom.