Kurdistance: A Week Like Any Other

The news coming out of the Kurdish blogs this week is as varied as the landscape of Kurdistan itself. From predictions on Syrian Kurd alliances with Israel, to censorship in Turkey; from explorations of Northern Iraq, to essays on intolerance, the Kurdish bloggers cover it all. But for this week, I think we will begin with why, to Kurds, April is considered as the “Bride of the Year”.

Why is April the bride of the year? April behaves like the bride. It is between winter and spring. The snow has not melted yet; the flowers start to come out; and the trees start to bloom while the mountain peaks are covered with snow. There are occasionally also snow blizzards. One would wander whether one is going to see the black soil again. So April is caught between winter and spring and does not know what way to go—stay in winter or head toward spring. What way is the sweetest? Is it not like a bride? Bride is ready to marry and it is so hard to leave her parents’ house because that house give her life and brought her up to marriage age. Then there the groom that wants to take away from her home and bring her into his home where she finds another kind of happiness. The decision is very hard. What shall she do? Shall she stay in her old home or go away to the new home? She cries and doest not want leave her family home. Can she tolerate that her whole life? It is not possible to prolong this old habit. The new force draws her and she becomes a part of her new life or husband. So is the month of April. She finally decides to go with spring and give new life to everything that wants to be alive.

As with any marriage, there are times of great beauty and great pain. Michael Totten has two beautiful posts this week about Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan in which he describes the “Red Zone” and the trials and tribulations of keeping the peace.

Vladimir on From Holland to Kurdistan writes about supposed predictions of Syrian Kurds allying with Israel:

It's the question if Kurdish parties in Syria would openly accept Israeli support, despite that they are pro-Israeli. It could make the Syrian regime attack the Syrian Kurds by making anti-Zionist propaganda versus Kurds. It could also result into a mass Arabic attack against Kurds and a rehearsal of the tragedy of 2004. At that time the Syrian regime also blamed Israel for their own problems with the Kurdish minority.

Rasti focuses alot this week on Turkish censorship in its multiple forms, from presenting an interesting article on Turkish censorship laws to showing how the three killings of Bible publishers in Malatya has ties with the Kurdish experience:

The recent murders of Christian publishers in Malatya are examples of the extreme forms of censorship to which the Turkish state has had recourse throughout its history, particularly since the September 12 coup. In light of this tradition of extreme censorship, it might be appropriate to discuss another publisher and his battles with the Ankara regime.

Ragip Zarakolu is one of those brave and noble Turks who has stood for justice since 1968 when he began writing. With the military coup of 1971, he began his long history of persecution by the Turkish state. At that time, he was tried and imprisoned for having “secret” relations with that well-known subversive organization, Amnesty International.

With his wife Aysenur Zarakolu, he founded Belge Publishing House in 1977. Together with Aysenur, through Belge, he published writings that other publishing houses would not have touched with the proverbial ten-foot pole, especially after the September 12 coup, writings about minorities in Turkey, the Armenian Genocide, the Kurdish situation, and the impunity of the state in its terrorism against the people. In 1986, he joined with others as one of the founding members of the Human Rights Association (IHD), which has had a number of incredibly courageous human beings associated with it such as Akin Birdal, Eren Keskin, and Osman Baydemir.

Blogger Karer on Kurdistan writes about a Turkish co-worker's repeated reluctance to understand why being a Kurd from Turkey is different than being Turkish:

Later on I wrote to her that I would like to correct her on the issue of being Turkish. I clearly delineated the difference between being Turkish and Kurdish. I reminded her that we both speak Turkish, which I was forced to learn. Known Turkish or other languages is a fine thing, but being forced to learn Turkish is raping the mind of other people. It is a psychological sickness to force other people to change their identity or culture. The enforcer is capable of doing everything, ranging from genocide to destruction of countries because the mindset is based on resorting to force that could be detrimental any time. If an intellectual who has taught at a university level and does not know the differences and has not accepted uniqueness of differences within a country, the normal layman could be much worse and ignorant of events happening in his/her country and around the world. This ignorance I thought would be only challenged by reminding them kindly of the environment.

And our last word today goes to a new Kurdish blogger, Zaneti, who writes about intolerance to the Kurdish people in general:

“Light wisdom means heavy burdens”, a Kurdish proverb that could not apply so well to any other ethnic group or nation in the world. The lack of understanding and knowledge of the world surrounding them, oftentimes, resulted in the consequences of many tragedies that Kurds faced throughout their history. While unable to know how to help themselves, burdens of oppression, genocide and lack of rights continued to get heavier and heavier.

Many groups throughout the world may face similar consequences when living in ignorance. Without knowledge and wisdom to do so, one cannot progress and move forward for the betterment of his or herself or his or her people. Of course, challenges and tragedies cannot be blamed solely on ignorance. However, those without knowledge are always left behind by a fast-moving world where each group or individual is only concerned with his, her or it's own needs and desires… And needs and desires of one entity are fulfilled at the expense of another. Those without knowledge to protect themselves and move forward lose and their burdens get heavier and heavier.

It is true, knowledge is empowerment. And indeed, ignorance is not a bliss.


  • Mike

    The majority of Kurds are indeed stuck in the Middle Ages. What do you expect in a state where very few women (are allowed to)work, arranged marriages and honor killings are still accepted. Women are still regarded as “property” by men, young and old. Ruled by one dictatorship after another, Kurdistan is a male-dominated lethargic society with very little desire for change. Few people regard education as a necessity. Those who do, usually move abroad and never look back.

  • Deborah Ann Dilley

    I am going to disagree with you there. The “society” that you illustrate is not exclusive to the Kurds, but to many many areas. You make it sound as if ALL Kurdish women are oppressed when they aren’t. Kurdish women fight alongside men. Kurdish women hold positions in government in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. You could say that the entire world is a “male-dominated” society. And of course, there are many many cultures the world over that support arrange marriages and do not consider them backward at all. Honor killings are not exclusive to the Kurds either…and is definitely something that must be eradicated. I would say that yes, Kurdistan has been ruled by one dictatorship after another, and that they will only be un-dominated if they learn to unite together in a common cause of governance. The Kurds, however, are definitely not stuck in the Middle Ages, but rather a society that is trying to move and evolve despite all odds.

  • As long as one is in another’s country,he/she must abide by its rules. Or he/she needs to bring about change. However, all of this must be done in a conciliatory way and through diplomatic efforts. Not through rant and rave and rhetoric.

    I believe the Kurdish (and other similarly aligned) ‘rhetoric-torians’ would be out of a job and with nothing to do if they got what they want us to believe they want. Most of these types of loud mouths want the uncertainty to continue.

    We need to start paying more attention to the silent majority rather than the ‘minority’ in these cases. This is an epidemic but one that could be cured with early prevention.

  • Deborah Ann Dilley

    I am not exactly sure what “early prevention” could be administered at this point, but I wholehearted agree with you that the Kurds can only change their situation if they follow the rules of their respective countries and work diplomatically. It has been my experience with the Kurds that I have met and worked with in Turkey that they have been told by so many that they have no rights that they do not look further for themselves to see if that is true. They have alot of rights, they just don’t know the system. And they could accomplish so much if they just used the system that is in place. Violence, obviously does not work, and the Kurds in Turkey should look at what the Kurds in Iraq are accomplishing and take that as a model.

  • What country would you say that Kurds feel the most home in?

  • Deborah Ann Dilley

    I wouldn’t say that the Kurds feel at home in any country…and in the majority of cases, the families and clans have been living in these areas for thousands of years and the country lines have been drawn around them. So home to the Kurds was around alot longer than a country. To Kurds, there is no home except the mountains which cross the borders of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

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