(A Summary of Kurdish Linguistic Problems…)
1) The desastrous entry of the Kurds in the 20th century , causes and consequences
After Chaldiran , the Kurdish feudal princes had to pay homage, although often nominal,
either to the Ottoman or the Persian sovereigns . For nearly two centuries , Kurdistan
was actually to become a battlefield between the two enemy empires -
Consequently to the Ottoman defeat in WW1 ,the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres provided for
an autonomous Ottoman Kurdistan , and for its full independence if such was to
be the wish of its inhabitants and the decision of the League of Nations. But Britain
and France had their own policy as to the fate of the eastern Ottoman possessions,
according to the Sykes-
Mustafa Kemal Pasha , who served in the WW1 as General in the Ottoman army, promised
the Kurds of Turkey to recognize their 'ethnic rights' and obtained their participation
in the Independence War he was to launch against the occupation forces of the Allied
Powers . The Ottoman defeat was thus transformed into a victory, said Churchill.
As a consequence, the Conference of Lausanne , 1922-
2) Why a Kurdish national question ?
There is a Kurdish national question because the Kurdish people were deprived by
imperialism, and thanks to their lack of preparation and their inexperience , of
their right of self-
3) Estimates and data
I define Kurdistan as being geographically constituted of the contiguous regions
that had a Kurdish majority by the end of WW1 , not withstanding the 'international'
borders dividing it between four states, which are actually inter-
Iranian Kurdistan covers about five contiguous administrative provinces called generally
ostan in Persian, which constitute together the mountainous borderland to the west
of the Iranian Plateau. From north to south they are : Western-
The number of the Kurds by 2002, including those who were forced to leave Kurdistan
and live in other parts of the states dividing it, can be estimated as follow :
about 23 or 24 millions in Turkey , 11 millions in Iran (including those implanted
in Khurasan by the shah Abbas the Great in the 17° cent.), 6,2 millions in Iraq
(including the Faili and Shiit or Ali-
4) On the written Kurdish dialects
Kurdish is not a unified language , but divided into dialects , with local varieties,
in the image of divided Kurdistan and the contradictions of the Kurdish society.
There are two main dialects , North-
The Kurds who speak Sorani, with local varieties, and use it as written language
are those of south-
This paper is not a study in Kurdish dialectology. Let us however notice that another Kurdish dialect , Gorani , sometimes called Hawrami, was used as written literary language at the court of the Kurdish principality of Ardalan , whose capital was the city of Sineh , in Iranian Kurdistan. That is the past, since there is no longer any Kurdish principality , the last ones having succumbed by the middle of the 19° century. Most of the Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan use henceforth, more and more, the Sorani dialect to write in Kurdish, the same as in Sulaimaniya and the larger part of Iraqi Kurdistan. Gorani is no longer a living literary language , but is still spoken by isolated mountaineers in the Hawreman ridge.
Another Kurdish dialect is Zazaki , spoken in some northern areas of Turkish Kurdistan,
by about 5 % of the Kurdish people in Turkey . Curiously enouph , Zazaki and Gorani
are linguistically close dialects, despite the large geographical space separating
them, space occupied by North-
5) The Kurdish linguistic problématique
One of the arguments developed by Lord Curzon, chief of the British delegation to
the Conference of Lausanne , for the inclusion of the south-
In accordance with what was called Bill on Local languages , adopted by the Iraqi
government in the early 1930s , it was decided to open primary schools in Iraqi
Kurdistan to teach children in Kurdish (and some Arabic). The dialect chosen was
Sorani in its Sulaimaniya variety, which is special and practically confined in the
city . The variety spoken in Arbil was not as distant from Kurmanji , but Sulaimaniya
enjoyed an older tradition in matter of Kurdish literature. The choice was perhaps
political. Besides, the northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan, here called Badinan ,
where the people speak Kurmanji and represent about 30 % of the Kurds in Iraq, was
excluded from the reform . Teaching at schools only in Arabic was imposed on the
children of Badinan . That was obviously a political decision, probably British.
Of course, these children would not have understood Sorani, especially in the
variety of Sulaimaniya, but the question to be posed is different : Why not to have
decided to teach the children of Badinan in their own Kurdish dialect, Kurmanji ?
The answer cannot be but political . Turkey was by no means willing , and could not
accept, that North-
The largest Kurdish dialect , North-
It should be first reminded that Sorani was and is still written in Arabic script
, as slightly modified to fit Kurdish, while Kurmanji was written -
On July 14, 1958 , General Abdul Karim Kassem overthrew the Iraqi monarchy , proclaimed
the Iraqi Republic , and a Provisional Constitution saying (in Art. 3) 'the Arabs
and the Kurds are partners in the Republic and their rights are guaranteed by the
Constitution'. This constitutional recognition of the Kurdish people as partners
of the Arabs in the Republic was democratic, the very first and is still the sole
in the area (although Art. 2 of the same Constitution , presenting Iraq as an Arab
state , was to be openly criticized by this writer at a conference held in Baghdad
in October 1960 -
In November 1992 , a parliamentary delegation , headed by Jawher Namiq, president
of the Kurdish National Assembly, seated in Arbil, visited Switzerland . I offered
them a reception. "It is decided that Sorani be the official language in Kurdistan"
, told me Mr. Namiq , " but we shall enrich Sorani with a vocabulary from Kurmanji.
" Having a different opinion, I said: " Then Kurmanji , the language of Ahmedê
Khani , should be reduced to the rank of an idiom spoken just by shephered and non
educated People ! " At that time, Iraqi Kurdistan was reduced , by Saddam Hussein,
to three districts or provinces, Sulaimaniya in the south, Dehok in the north, and
Arbil between them., making together the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government.) Dehok
is a new city, and its district covers only a part of the Kurmanji -
In 1993 I was invited to attend as guest the 11° congress of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), whose president was , and is, Mesoud Barzani, son of the legendary Kurdish leader late Mustafa Barzani . I had known kak Mesoud (as we say in Kurdish) since the 1960s , when he was a teenager and that his father had wanted me to be his spokesman abroad, what I had accepted. That represented honour and responsibility for me , although I was not an Iraqi Kurd , nor member in any Kurdish party, but politically independent, former president of KSSE , a free writer struggling for democracy and the national rights of the Kurdish people. The KDP congress was to be held in August in Arbil , seat of the Kurdish National Assembly (parliament) . We were a few to travel together from Switzerland , by Turkey, to attend the congress : Ayyoub Barzani (a cousin to kak Mesoud, and a free writer) , Siddik Zawiti , member of KDP and its representative in Switzerland, Swiss journalists, and me.
When we reached Dehok , the first important Kurdish urban and cultural centre
after the border with Turkey (Turkish Kurdistan) , we made a stop for two or three
days . My two Kurdish friends and companions, Ayyoub and Siddik , suggested me to
call together on the city's Union of Kurdish Writer. Past the entry building there
was a large green lawn as part of the club , with groups of men and some women, about
sixty people, talking and drinking tea. They were Kurdish writers and intellectuals
speaking Kurmanji Kurdish , the flower of the Kurdish intelligentsia in Badinan
. Many were perhaps members of KDP, or sympathisers , and some had important responsibilities
in the Kurdish regional administration . It was clear they all knew me, at least
by name, and what are my opinions about what I call the The Kurdish linguistic problématique
. I ignore whether any meeting had been arranged between them and the present writer
, but the encounter was soon to be transformed into a kind of meeting. That was
possibly spontaneous. Addressing this distinguished assembly , I briefly repeated
what was written above , insisting that Kurmanji should become the language of education
at the schools and colleges in the Badinan area , preferably in a reformed Kurdish-
At the congress of KDP, when I had the floor, I spoke among other issues about the linguistic problem at stake and that was made public ( I heard repeatedly myself, in the next days, speaking about the issue at the KDP's television channel) . The congress was a large one , attended , beside party's members, by a large number of Kurdish guests from all parts of Kurdistan , representatives of the Kurdish parties and of the Kurdish external diasporas (from Russia, Europe, and USA), as well as by all the components of the Iraqi Arab opposition to Saddam Hussein. Jalal Talabani, secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), with whom I had an old friendly relationship since 1959, present at the congress, invited me to his private residence in Qara Cholan , near Sulaimaniya, once the seat of the Kurdish Baban principality. I travelled there when the congress was through and asked kak Ayyoub Barzani to be my companion in the journey. .
At Qara Cholan , beside Mam Jalal (as we call Jalal Talabani in Kurdish, meaning
uncle Jalal), late Ibrahim Ahmed , his father-
I had known General Mustafa Barzani for the first time in Baghdad , October 1960
. It was after my participation, as president of the KSSE delegation, which included
Kemal Fuad and Tahsin A. Hawrami , in a congress of the International Union of Students
(IUS , seated in Prague) , held in Baghdad . In my speech on behalf of the KSSE,
which I wrote and delivered in French, I criticized Article 2 of the Iraqi Provisional
Constitution , presenting the Iraqi Republic -
When , after the 1993 KDP congress, I began speaking , in Jalal Talabani's Qara Cholan residence, about the Kurdish linguistic problem , Ibrahim Ahmed interrupted me : 'There is no problem , the question is settled, Sorani is the official language in Iraqi Kurdistan' . Mam Jalal asked whether I was in Kurdistan 'to make them trouble ?' I did not appreciate the question, as if I were a foreigner and had to say nothing about the issue. 'The problem does exist, but you do not see it or you do not want', was my reply . I told them what had happened a few days earlier at Dehok's Union of Kurdish Writers. I suggested, as an experience to be tried , that pupils at primary schools should begin by learning how to write their own respective dialect, Kurmanji or Sorani , and that after three or four years , those whose language is Sorani should also learn how to write in Kurmanji, and the contrary for those whose language is Kurmanji . That would perhaps prepare the terrain for a solution. Mam Jalal , whose Kurdish is Sorani, but he speaks an excellent Kurmanji , said the proposal was good . The next day , at a reception in the city of Sulaimaniya, it was reported to me that somebody had said I came " to kill Sorani " . Ayyoub Barzani was present and heard it . Needless to say it was not my intention, nor within my capability, 'to kill Sorani' , happily a prosperous language , but to try to save Kurmanji.
We left Sulaimaniya back to Salaheddin , a beautiful hilly place not far from
Arbil, where kak Mesoud has his own residence , and where the closest KDP's guests
were accommodated, including me , in a guesthouse built by Saddam Hussein for his
guests and then used by KDP for their own . I asked to call on Osman Ocalan (Abdullah
Ocalan's younger brother) at Zeli , a valley to the northeast of Arbil, somewhere
to the north of Kalat-
I visited Barzan , birth place of a legend amid mighty mountains , with Ayyoub Barzani as a guide. Then I left alone Iraqi Kurdistan , but my journey across Turkish Kurdistan , by bus, had been arranged . No airline existed at that time between Iraqi Kurdistan and Europe. Upon arrival at the bus terminal in Diyarbekir, two men were awaiting for me. Both welcomed me in Kurmanji. One of them, an engineer, was accompanied by his two sons, the elder, about 15, spoke Kurmanji, but the younger, about 8 , spoke only Turkish . This means when the younger son was born , his parents had stopped speaking Kurdish at home , for Turkish. I blamed the father for it.
The city of Diyarbekir was originally called Amida . By the time of the Islamic conquest , the Arabs called it Diyarbekir (meaning Bekir's Country) . The Kemalists changed the name into Diyarbakir (with a k close to q) , meaning in Turkish the 'Copper Country' , by way of turkization of the toponymy of Kurdistan. Few people would identify the place if the name is written again Amida ; besides , such a change would not be recognized by the Turkish state. Anyway, I keep writing Diyarbekir . The city of Antep , in the southwestern part of Turkish Kurdistan, was renamed Gaziantep under the Turkish Republic, meaning probably in Turkish 'The Antep of the Conqueror' , the Conqueror possibly meaning Mustafa Kemal Pasha , himself renamed Ataturk. Anyway , I keep writing the name just Antep.
6) On the proposals for reforming the Kurdish-
In an article written in French (15 pages), I fully explained why and how the
It is difficult to change one's habits and customs as socially established , the Kurds are conservative with this respect. My reform project of the Kurdish Roman alphabet has supporters , but it was not put into practice , save perhaps partially and privately . It is worth the reform be tried by Kurmanji writers , to see the results and possibly for any modification . While keeping writing Sorani with Arabic letters, it is a good idea to try writing it in a suitable Roman script as well, if the Kurds want to have one day perspectives for a future unification of their two main written dialects. That can only be a slow and progressive process . Let us notice that people knowing a Western language , or at least the Latin alphabet , could easily read Sorani or Kurmanji written in this alphabet , but the Kurds in Turkey will not understand even Kurmanji if it is written in Arabic characters, save perhaps a handful of people among 'ulama in religion.
7) The Opening of the Kurdish Institute , in Istanbul
I was invited to the opening of the Kurdish Institute , in Istanbul, on April 18 , 1992 . The ceremony of the event took place in the presence of more than 2'000 Kurds and guests, men and women, representing the flower of the Kurdish intelligentsia in Turkey . We were crowds in the modern headquarters, at the centre chic of the large metropolis, on Istiqlal Caddesi (Independence Street.) I thought it might perhaps be the beginning of some understanding by the Turkish state toward the Kurdish language and culture . That was my hope. I was asked by the founders of the Institute to cut its entry ribbon and declare it open. I did it while Dr. Ismail Besikci, the Turkish sociologist who had written tens of books about the Kurdish question, was standing by me . One of his books, in Turkish, is entitled "Kurdistan International Colony" . To express their esteem toward Dr. Besikci , the founders of the Institute had made him their president . Before cutting the entry ribbon , I declared open the Institute 'in the name of the Kurdish people' and expressed the hope to see soon the opening , in the cities of Turkish Kurdistan , of colleges and universities teaching in Kurdish . This opening speech was concise and delivered in Kurmanji Kurdish.
Once that was done, the Kurdish responsibles suspended, through a window looking at the Istiqlal Caddesi, a large wooden placard on which the name Enstîtuya Kurdî was written , in bold black letters . We were at the 3rd or the 4th floor, but the name was readable from Independence street . The Turkish police came soon into the Institute and ordered the placard to be taken off. Why , asked the Kurdish responsibles ? 'Because the name Kurd is yasaq'(banned in Turkish) , said the policemen , who added : 'you can use any other name, but not Kurdish , it is illegal' . 'We shall not take off the placard', said the Kurdish responsibles. 'Then we are going to do it' , said the police , and they did it . The Institute's directors said 'We shall bring the case before justice' . To offend in such a way a whole people numbering more than twenty millions in the sole Turkey was unbelievable. Is it this 'democratic Turkey', candidate at membership in the European Union ? Even Saddam Hussein, a criminal as he was, would not have behaved so shamefully about cultural issues in the region to which he had reduced Iraqi Kurdistan .
8) Repression of the Syrian Kurds by the Syrian Baath Dictatorship
The 2,5 million Kurds or so in Syria are as oppressed by the Baathist Syrian government
as the 24 million or so Kurds in Turkey , and they speak the same Kurmanji . The
Syrian Baath has since 1963 a planned policy of national and linguistic oppression
against the Syrian Kurds (see ICV, The Persecution of the Kurdish People by the
Baath Dictatorship in Syria, , Amsterdam, 1968 ; Kurdistan und die Kurden , Band
3, Pogrom 142, Göttingen, 1988 ; The Kurds in Syria and Lebanon , in : The Kurds
, A Contemporary Overview , ed. G, Kreyenbroek and S.Sperl, pub. Routledge, London
1992) . To avenge the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and " punish " the Iraqi Kurds
for their co-
9) Kurmanji An Endangered Language
The British academic David Crystal presents his book entitled Language Death (Cambridge, 2002) in these terms : " The rapid endangerment and death of many minority languages across the world is a matter of widespread concern , among all concerned with issues of cultural identity in an increasingly globalized culture. " The author adds : " Only 600 of the 6000 or so languages in the world are safe from the threat of extinction. "
Michael L. Chyet , American author of a remarkable Kurdish-
" In the time I have spent studying Kurdish, I have familiarized myself with the
various subdialects of both Kurmanji and Sorani, and although they offer very interesting
and illuminating differences, I fail to see how these differences present a threat
: even the Kurmanji dialects at the two furthest extremes of Northern Kurdistan -
Yet Michael Chyet concludes his introduction by raising the alarm as to the future of Kurmanji :
" Kurmanji is an endangered language, and its survival is ultimately up to the Kurds
themselves. My motto to the Kurds is : Zimaneki wisa ku zarok pê nepeyivin, zimanekî
bê pasheroj e = A language which is not spoken by children has no future . Among
the Kurds , there are many who say they are so numerous that the language will always
be around . However, after the evacuation of the villages of Eastern Turkey -
It is unhappily true that the urban middle and upper class children in Turkish Kurdistan
speak increasingly Turkish and ignore Kurdish , while the Kurdish-
The death of the Kurdish language has been the aim of the Turkish Republic, it is the objective to be accomplished thanks to a Turkish utmost nationalism maintained by what is sometimes called deap Turkey : a mixture of military, state bureaucracy , and drug traffickers, who can mobilize the street mob against human rights and democracy. The recent murder of Hrant Dink , journalist and Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, who had mentioned the 1915 Armenian genocide in a paper, illustrates what may happen with such a Turkish nationalism. His crime was to believe in the freedom of opinion in Turkey.
10) Kurmanji , An Unwelcome Language in Iraqi Kurdistan ?
Of course Kurmanji cannot be unwelcome in Iraqi Kurdistan, since it is a part of it, but the interrogation reflects the dissatisfaction of its speakers as to its status, We are no longer in the early 1930s , when the matter was what dialect to choose to begin teaching Kurdish. We have today three large universities in Iraqi Kurdistan , one called Salaheddin (Saladin , the largest) in Arbil, another in Sulaimaniya, a third in Dehok, engeneering,, medicine, and law schools , an important teaching body, academics in different sciences, and students, young men and girls, in their thousands.
In the present paper the name of Badinan has been used to mean all the northern areas
of Iraqi Kurdistan, close to the border with Turkey or Syria, where Kurmanji is spoken
. Once there was a Kurdish principality in these areas whose name was Badinan (or
Bahdinan) , but the name is today deprived of any administrative signification .
On the administrative field , parts of this Badinan, such as Barzan and Mergasor
, where Kurmanji is spoken, depend on Arbil , a Sorani-
Two reports were received from Mr. Rasheed Ali Miziry, from Badinan , plus copy of an open letter sent by another Kurmanji writer , Xemgine Welat, to the Prime Minister of KRG, kak Nechirvan Barzani. Here is a summary of Miziri's first report , dated August 27, 2006 :
When Kurmanji is used , it is in Arabic script . It is used in primary schools from the 1st year to the 4th year in Dehok district only . All other stages (intermediate, secondary) are in Sorani. In Dehok University : Sorani is used in Geography and History Depatments , but in the colleges of Economics and Administration and the college of Law, Arabic is used , not Kurmanji . All scientific colleges , Medecine, Agriculture, Engineering, use English . In Dehok Institutes Sorani is mostly used . In Arbil District : Sorani is used in all stages , sometimes Kurmanji , and English in scientific colleges. In Sulaimaniya District (Government) : Kurmanji is never used . Mr. Miziri adds : " Most of the officials in Sulaimaniya and some from Arbil dedicate all their efforts to remove Kurmanji from Kurdish dictionary and deprive Badinan area from that right and from their mother tongue. We have the confidence they will fail in their attempts, because most of the educated people in Badinan area and Arbil are protesting against that idea. " In a second report dated 31/08/2006 , R.A. Miziri furthers some other information : Study in Sinjar is in Arabic, but after the liberation of the district some new classes have been opened where pupils are studying Kurmanji beside Arabic . In Sheikhan area study is in Kurmanji in a number of villages, while in the town of Sheikhan itself, which is under the control of the Iraqi government , study is in Arabic, except for some new classes where study is in Kurmanji . In Barzan the study is in Sorani ,written in Arabic characters, though the population there are kormanjophon !
The open letter by Xemgine Welat (apparently a symbolic name , meaning in Kurmanji : Unhappy Country), dated September 26, 2006, to the KRG Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani , is a moving yet brilliant defence of Kurmanji , its outstanding role in the Kurdish Classical literature , the calamities it endures in Turkey , where " 25 million Kurds " , one half of all the Kurdish nation , are repressed . It is also a homage paid to Ahmedê Khani , the immortal poet and father of the Kurdish national idea. A Kurmanji periodical, Evro (Today) writes openly about the issue.
11 ) What to do ?
The dissatisfaction of the Kurmanji-
Modern Spain is a democratic state constituted, according to the Spanish Constitution
of December 29, 1978, of 17 regional autonomies , with an elected central government.
Tony Blair's United Kingdom includes Scotland , with its own parliament and regional
government, and Wales, with its National Assembly. Canada is a federal state with
two official languages, English and French . Switzerland is an old federal state
made of 23 small states called cantons , with three official languages , German,
French, and Italian , in which all federal laws -
What the area of Badinan needs , and is demanded , not to be made another Iqlim ,
nor an autonomous region in the political sense, but to be officially recognized
as a united Kurmanji space , endowed with some cultural, that is linguistic autonomy.
Within this space education at all stages, primary, secondary and at universities,
should be in Kurmanji , be it by progressive steps (for the formation of Kurmanji
teachers and professors if need be) , save the use of other optional languages (see
below under C) : That is the wish of the Kurmanji-
Ottoman Turkish , thanks to the Koran , was stuffed with Arabic words and Koranic
sentences , perhaps up to 70 % of its vocabulary , and with persian if not Kurdish
words, perhaps up to 20 %. French was over centuries the first international language
, not English, till the end of WW1 . French was used by the Ottomans for their diplomatic
relations , and by the European aristocracy as the cultural language par excellence.
The Turkish Kemalist Republic tried to " purgate " Ottoman Turkish of Arabic, and
to replace it by French words and expressions. Yet modern Turkish is still stuffed
with Arabic in matter of law and religion, and has become stuffed with French words
and expressions, probably up to 10 % , if not 15 % . Once , for example, I read at
a railway station in Istanbul : 'shef de gar burosi' which is entirely borrowed from
French, to the exception of the final possessive suffix 'si ' : " Bureau du chef
de gare = Office of the railway station chief. " I heard such French words and expressions
in their hundreds, if not by thousands , pronounced by Kurds in Turkey, speaking
Turkish or Kurmanji , but both Turks and Kurds believe them to be " pure Turkish
" , unless they had been educated in French. Once I misunderstood Kurds in Turkey
saying Kurdan and thought they were unduly meaning the plural of Kurd, who had
nothing to do in the story . Then they explained they meant toothpick= cure-
It is recommended that at primary schools teaching be in Sorani in the Sorani areas,
and in Kurmanji in Badinan , as this area is defined above. At the stage of secondary
schools (lycées in French, high schools in English) it is desirable, if not requested,
12) Recent News About the Kurdish People in Turkey
Information about the number of the Kurdish people in Turkey (one half of all the
Kurds), the extent of Turkish Kurdistan (one half of all Kurdistan) , the denial
by the Turkish state's racist and nationalistic ideology of the mere existence of
the Kurdish people and Kurdistan in Turkey , the economic under-
Yet recent events seem to put in evidence a positive mental change among the Kurds in Turkey, with more courage and demands on their part, even on the political ground :
13) Turkey, the European Union, and the Kurds
During the years of fighting between the PKK guerrilla and the Turkish state (1984-
At the Helsinki EU's summit of December 1999 , the name of Turkey was put on the list of states "candidate at membership" , without any reference to the Kurdish question . The European Commission , following the summit, adopted in 2000 the general criteria of Copenhagen , about democracy, respect for human rights and the rights of national minorities, as the basis for the democratisation of the candidate states , in their constitution and their practice . Turkey was similarly requested to comply with those criteria, without mentioning the mere existence of the Kurdish people, nor any reference to their old and ongoing national question, while the future of democracy in Turkey depends on a just solution to the national question of the Kurdish people. In the Turkish program for compliance with the European criteria , no reference either was made to the question , not even to the existence of Kurds in Turkey . When the project " Turkey 2000 Accession Partnership " , prepared by the European Commission , was submitted to the European Parliament for discussion, the Parliament adopted on 15 November 2000 a document entitled " Turkey's Progress Towards Accession " containing 29 points, which constitute addenda bringing precision to the project , or bridging its gaps. Several of these addenda concern the Kurds, especially points Nos 11 to 14 , which mention specifically ' the Kurdish people' and the need of a 'political solution' to their question, demand "an international fund for the reconstruction of the Kurdish destroyed villages and the return of their inhabitants." These addenda about the Kurdish people were not mentioned in the final document submitted to Turkey . In other terms, the EU has no respect for the resolutions of its own parliament . If the EU , proclaimed as being based on the highest principles of justice, peace and democracy, has no respect for the European Parliament itself , how could it have respect for the Kurdish people and their rights ?
I do not make it a mystery , I was much surprised by the hypocrisy of the EU . I denounced the Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi , and Syrian oppressive policy toward the Kurds at the federal Canadian Parliament, in Ottawa , on 6 June 2000, on the invitation of Canadian parliamentarians . I said publicly what I think about the shameful attitude of the EU's executive bodies , regarding the Kurdish question in Turkey , in my speech at the meeting held at the House of Commons (British Parliament) , Grand Committee Room, London , on Tuesday 23 January 2001 , in the presence of British MPs, Lords, intellectuals , artists, friends of the Kurdish people , and before the Kurdish intelligentsia at the British capital . I repeated the same criticism at the meeting held the next day at the National Assembly of Wales, in Cardiff, and , at another date, in a press conference held at the European Parliament , in Brussels . I presented the same criticism toward the EU, in courteous terms, to Mr. Romano Prodi , president of the Euopean Commission , in a letter dated 14 November 2002 . I requested in this letter the EU to work for a real and political solution to the national question of the Kurdish people in Turkey , by peaceful means, in consultation with representatives of the Kurdish people. I repeated this criticism again at the KNK's General Assembly of December 2002 , before our European guests and friends . It is to be afraid the EU attitude means the Kurds in Turkey were considered as a respectful people , worth efforts for the resolution of their national question , as long as they were fighting by arms for their rights, and that they are worth nothing since fighting by arms has been brought to an end ,
Only a few examples of my action as president of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK
in Kurdish initials), are mentioned above . There are many other examples, by hundreds
, from 1999 to 2004 . That was done with the assistance of my brothers and sisters
at the KNK's Executive Council. I tried as KNK's president to be helpful to the case
of the Kurdish people in the four parts of Kurdistan and the outer diasporas . My
old and basic idea , over more than fifty years , for the solution of the Kurdish
question , has been political federalism for Kurdistan , and between the Kurds and
their neighbours. There can be no federalism without democracy and self-
In a column of Le Monde , issue of 19 November 1998 , the French daily says : "
The Kurds are the last grand people to whom self-
Helmut Schmidt , the former social-
Valerie Giscard d'Estaing , former president of the French Republic, who chaired the European Convention that laid down a draft Constitution of EU , stated repeatedly in 2003 and 2004 that "Turkey is not European". He said "only 5 % of the territory of Turkey is at the edge of Europe, all the rest belonging to Asia.. " We know both the French and Dutch peoples have rejected, by referendum, the draft EU constitution, essentially because of Turkey's candidature , while a unanimous acceptance by member states, of a new member , will be required . Besides , Turkish membership is nowadays more than problematic and, supposedly , it could not be attained before 10 or more years, if ever.
Yet , since the Turkish candidature has not been cancelled , and although the EU
seems not to know how to go on and is deprived of a constitution, it may however
be recommended to the representatives of the Kurdish people in Turkey, to ignore
these Turkish difficulties and to present , perhaps by mandated lawyers, their linguistic
and political demands -
Something more should be said : if one day Turkey becomes supposedly member at the
EU, its Kurds would become, as " Turkish citizens " , " Europeans " too , while the
other half of the same people , the Kurds in Syria, Iraq , and Iran, will continue
to be non-
14) A request to the Authorities of Iraqi Kurdistan
By way of conclusion, Sorani enjoys a dominant position in Iraqi Kurdistan, including Badinan, thanks to a political decision taken by the Kurdistan National Assembly. The Kurmanji speakers resent this situation as oppressive and do not accept it. They demand that Kurmanji be the main official and education language in Badinan. This democratic demand is also justified by the fact that Kurmanji is menaced with extinction in Turkey, it is banned in Syria and not used for official education where it is spoken in Iran.
The official responsible authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan are requested to reconsider the issue, to give satisfaction to the democratic demand of the Kurmanji speakers in Badinan in the light of the strategic interest of all the Kurdish nation. I submit, with confidence, the proposal mentioned above, to their consideration.
15) The Kurds and regional threats
The US President Bush lost his Republican Party's majority at the Congress, in the
It is difficult to foresee future . What one may say , without being mistaken, a
Ismet Sherif Wanli Lausanne,