Friday, 28 October 2011

Kurds, Turkey, Nationalism, Thoughts, Reflection, Rant

After discussing the Turkey itinerary with the rather attractive and funny bloke from the tour agency, I asked him whether there are ever any tours in the Southern or Eastern regions of Turkey. I had Hasankeyf particularly in mind and was referencing areas with a high Kurdish population. He said no. There was no tourism there and no reason to go there. I asked why, knowing that tourism was not promoted there because of the high number of Kurds in those regions. It was not only neglected but ‘oppressed’ might even be a more accurate term. We got into a little debate about the Kurdish areas of Turkey, which do in fact have amazing historical and naturally beautiful sites worth seeing. He said “we’ve given them everything, so their demands and complaints are unjustified”. He ended the conversation saying, “It’s a deep issue, and well I don’t care.”

Turkey as we know it today became a country that privileged one ethnic group: the Turks. Kurds were killed in large numbers by the Turkish government. Yes, it’s a deep issue and a sensitive one and education plays a large part in forming people’s views, but it’s this national fervor that has allowed one ethnic group to be privileged over another. Why were the Kurds left out of the nation-making process, subject to torture and marginalization by Iraq, Turkey, and Syria? Didn’t the Turks migrate into Anatolia, the region only recently named Turkey? The Kurds are their own distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture so why do young Turks of today insist on a Turkey for the Turks? This concept of nationalism really does not sit well.