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Kurdish Diaspora: present and future

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23.01.2004
text: Oleg Sidorov , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
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Currently there are around 40 million Kurds in the world, living mainly on the territories historically divided between Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

Due to historical reasons Kurds don't have their own state, which is a determining factor for them in the development of their statehood.

One of the main tragedies of Kurdish people is their separation. The opposition of parties and movements doesn't allow the whole people to unite. The first step on the way towards unification was an establishment of the parliament of Kurdistan in exile in the beginning of 1995.

Defending the right of a nation for self-determination Kurds have established in 1999 the National Congress of Kurdistan with a headquarters in Brussels. The main target of this association is an establishment of a sovereign state of Kurdistan.

Abdullah Ocalan - leader of Kurdish Workers Party - has been elected as a president of the National Congress of Kurdistan. In Turkey the Kurdish Workers Party is considered to be a terrorist organisation. Because around 30,000 people died during its activities.

According to some data, Kurds live in many countries of the world, including: Turkey - around 20 million, Iran - 9 million, Iraq - 5.5 million, Syria - 2 million, more than 1 million Kurds live in Western Europe (of which 500 thousand in Germany) and around 1 million - in CIS countries (according to the census of 1989). In Kazakhstan currently 50,000 ethnic Kurds live.

On the territory of former USSR Kurds have been deported twice and once they were forced to migrate. The first phase - 1937, when in autumn of that year Soviet troops encircled 18 Kurdish areas in Nakhichevan (Azerbaijani SSR) and during one day brought the arrested men, women, children, and aged people to the railway station, put them into a freight train and sent them to Central Asia and Kazakhstan.

The second phase - 1944, when in autumn of that year 16 Kurdish villages in Georgia were encircled by the Soviet Army soldiers and deported to Central Asia.

The third phase - 1988-1991. In the period of Karabakh conflict thousands of Kurdish families were forced to leave Armenia and the majority of them moved to Kazakhstan.

The compact residence of Kurds is observed in South Kazakhstan and Almaty oblasts. Among representatives of Kurdish Diaspora in Kazakhstan there a re two academicians, three PhDs, twelve candidate for PhDs, and around one thousand specilaists with higher education.

Cultural centres and schools with education in Kurdish language are being established in the areas of compact residence of Kurds. Thus, in South Kazakhstan oblast, where there are around 16,000 Kurds, education in Kurdish language is planned to be organised in nearly all districts, where Kurds are the main population. There are also three ethnic cultural Kurdish centres in Almaty, Shymkent, and Taraz, a monthly newspaper "Kurde Zana" in Russian is published. The existing association of Kazakhstani Kurds "Barbang" was one of the first that joined the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan and its leader - academician Nadir Nadirov is a member of the Assembly Council.

Representatives of cultural Kurdish centres actively help Kurdish Diaspora to maintain their traditions, culture, and language. The organised Kurdish language courses are especially popular. But such initiatives provoke negative reactions both beyond Kazakhstan and in the republic.

One of the facts causing an aggravation of the situation around Kurdish issue in South Kazakhstan oblast was awarding diplomas with a picture of Abdullah Ocalan to Kazakhstani graduates of Kurdish language courses.

Thus, students coming from Turkey, studying in the International Kazakh-Turkish University expressed their discontent with such manifestation of attention towards the leader of opposition party in Turkey. Representatives of Turkish mass media also noted that such actions on the part of Kazakhstan could complicate its interstate relations with Turkey.

However, in this case nobody takes into consideration the fact that Kazakhstan is a sovereign state, acting in compliance with its laws, without interference into affairs of other states.

Yes, Turkish businessmen assist and support the economy of Kazakhstan a lot. It can be seen from the volume of investments reaching almost $1 billion, which allows us to assert that Turkey is the second biggest investor in Kazakhstan after the USA.

Currently, Kurds residing in Central Asian republics, with hope and anguish follow events taking place in Iraq, especially in Iraqi Kurdistan, sympathising with the destinies of their historical Motherland.

Many hope that after the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime that took lives of more than 200,000 Kurds, a possibility that Kurdistan will obtain a political status emerges. In this case if Anglo-American coalition doesn't take the opinion of Kurdish people into account when it defines the post-war settlement of Iraq, the region may encounter a new cycle of tension not only in Iraq, but in entire Middle East.

The Kurdish facto, becoming one of the main components of international politics in the region, can push the Kurdish Diaspora to revolts and mass disorders, destablising the situation.

The governments of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia have repeatedly and resolutely stated and still insist that they will not tolerate any threat to the "territorial integrity of Iraq".

But, if the first three countries are afraid of an influence of a federal Kurdistan on their own Kurdish communities, Saudi Arabia is worried about a strengthening Shiite factor.

Many believe that the Iraqi Kurdistan has become a strategic US ally in Middle and Near East regions, because due to the immigration, Kurds make a Diaspora that lives vistually in all countries of the region.

Of course, the destiny of the whole people, big and dispersed around the whole world worries the society. But practically all countries with compact residence of Kurdish communities on their territories are afraid of a growth of integration sentiments. It is quite clear, because when the military activities on the territory of Iraq end, the elders of Iraqi Kurdistan will for sure raise the issue of establishing a state or at least an autonomy for Kurds.

It is because they aspire for Washington blessing for the establishment of a new sovereign state. If Washington ignores them and forgets about its allies in the last military campaign, it is highly probable that clandestine Kurdish organisations, capable of acting on the territories of Iraq, Near and Middle east, will activate. And it looks quite possible that they won't leave Central Asia alone.


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