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Part II

(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 - one sunnit and the other shi'it . The disunited Kurdish principalities lost their independence , one after another in both empires , the last ones by the middle of the 19° century. In Ottoman Turkey in particular , the Kurds revolted  all along the   19° century , eager to recover their independence.   Kurdistan  was ruined, and the Kurdish society, amputated of its traditional feudal aristocracy without having developed a sufficient bourgeoisie, nor a noticeable intelligentsia, was not in a position to match  with the terrible challenge of the twentieth century. Yet most of the Western , and many Russian , agents who had to do with the Kurds (such as the British Major E.B. Soane, Major Noel, Sir Mark Sykes, the engineer A.M. Hamilton, Major F.Millingen , Captain W.R.Hay, the French Henry Binder, etc) expressed  their belief that the Kurds would  have a bright national future. Unfortunately such a future was not within  the plans of the major imperialistic Powers of the time, Britain and France.

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-Picot Agreement. Britain occupied the south-eastern part of Ottoman Kurdistan (the Mosul vilayet affair), because of its oil, and  did its best to incorporate this part , against the will of the Kurdish people , into the new  Iraqi state it was creating under its mandate , in Lower Mesopotamia . In 1921,  France incorporated the south-western part of Ottoman Kurdistan into the new state of Syria which was  under its mandate.  Instead of getting access to independence as provided for at Sèvres , Ottoman   Kurdistan, which represented about 75 % of the Kurdish country, was thus divided by imperialism. Iranian Kurdistan, representing about 25 % of the Kurdish country, was not officially concerned by the Sèvres Treaty , Persia having not participated in WW1. But the Kurds of Iran long to liberty and democracy , as the other Kurds .

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 , 1922-1923 , was held to cancel the Treaty of Sèvres (signed but not ratified) and replace it by a new one. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne , which consecrated the new Turkey , was negotiated in the absence of the Kurds and against their interest . Cheated by " Ataturk " (The Father of the Turks -so !), the Kurds were betrayed by the European Powers (see, on both treaties and the debates at the Lausanne Conference, my book (ICV : Le Kurdistan irakien Entité nationale : Etude de la Révolution  de 1961, la Baconnière , Neuchâtel, 1970.)   In this latter work I referred to the official proceedings of the Lausanne Conference , meeting dated 23 January 1923 , as published in French by the French Ministère des Affaires étrangères : Documents diplomatiques , Conférence de Lausanne , Paris, 1923 (pages 279-303) . The same proceedings are published in English (by His Majesty's Stationary Office : Lausanne Conference on Near Eatern Affairs 1922-1923, Records of Proceedings and Draft Terms of Peace , London, 1923.)  These Terms of Peace , so unjust toward the Kurdish people , a mere betrayal, were finally discussed before the Council of the League of Nations , Geneva , 37° session , September 1925 (see League of Nations, Journal Officiel , October 1925, excerpts from which are published in  ICV : 1970.) . Without forgetting the 1915 Armenian genocide , the Kurds , who suffered much under the yoke of the Ottomans  , like many other peoples, obtained nothing from the dislocation of the empire. They are the sole dependent - and large - people  who, in the aftermath of WW1 , found themselves stateless,  more divided and more oppressed than before.

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-determination, to govern themselves by themselves in the country they inherited from their ancestry.  In Republican Turkey, which has kept within its borders far the largest part of former Ottoman Kurdistan , the Kurds endured forceful deportation, the Kurdish language was banned , the name of Kurdistan became a taboo and was replaced by Eastern Anatolia, which is, besides, a geographical error . Anatolia is an old Greek name meaning the Levant  , that is the sunrise country, which originally designated the eastern coast of the Egean sea, then its acceptance stretched eastwards  across centuries , to cover finally Cilicia and  Cappadocia , but the name  had never covered the Kurdish areas before the advent of Kemalism. Turkish Kurdistan became a nameless internal and under-developed colony , without even having the  'privilege' of being recognised as a colony. To accept forceful assimilation or to revolt and then be said 'highway robbers' (and later on 'terrorists') by the state and its army, that was the choice left to the Kurdish people in Turkey. Southern or Iraqi Kurdistan became 'the north of Iraq' and the uprisings of its Kurds were fought by the British on behalf of 'the Arab King of Iraq'. The Kurdish people are equally oppressed in Baathist Syria.

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-Kurdish borders.  Its total area ( on the basis of governmental data for the districts with a Kurdish majority) can be estimated at about 445'000 sq. km, as follow :  224'000 sq.km for Turkish Kurdistan (said  Northern), 124'000 sq.km for Iranian Kurdistan (said Eastern), 75'000 sq.km for Iraqi Kurdistan (said Southern) , and some 20'000 sq.km for Syrian Kurdistan (which may  be called southwestern).

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-Azerbaijan , Kordestan , Kirmanshah , nearly one half of  the ostan of Hamadan (to the east of Kirmanshah) , and the governorate of Ilam (from the ancient name  of Elam) . A northern part of the ostan of Luristan is also Kurdish. One , just one of these provinces is officially called Kurdistan , a name  written above  Kordestan , according to the Persian pronunciation, with the city of Sineh as provincial capital. To distinguish one of the  five or so Kurdish provinces , with the name of Kurdistan (Kordestan)  would suggest that the other four are not Kurdish and do make part of Iranian Kurdistan . Besides , the two provinces of Kurdistan/Kordestan and Kirmanshah used to constitute together one province , under the name  of Kurdistan, till the early twenties, when shah Riza separated them.  This tells about the constant opposition of Tehran to any demand of Kurdish autonomy  and union  within Iran. The province of Kurdistan created in the 12° century by sultan Sinjar in the western half of the clime of al-Jibal/Kuhistan , continued to be dismembered in later times. Persian is the official language of education at schools in Iranian Kurdistan , but private publications in Kurdish are tolerated, if they are not opposed to the government.

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-Ilahi Kurds , and  the Ezidi Kurds) , and 2,5 millions in Syria . To these estimates one should add the Kurdish outer diasporas (living beyond Kurdistan and outside the states dividing it) whose number may be estimated  at 1,3 to 1,6 million in western Europe (especially Germany) , more than one half of a million in the former Soviet Republics of the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia (see ICV, The Kurdish Diaspora in Russia and Former USSR , in the revue Lêkolîn of the Kurdish Science and Research Inst., Berlin, No. 5 , summer 1997 : 16-32.)  This  beside Kurdish communities in some other countries (USA, Canada,  Australia, and elsewhere). The Kurds who suffered most of internal scattering (internal diaspora) by and within the states dividing Kurdistan , are those of Turkey , then in Syria. About 10 millions  Kurds are found scattered across 'Turkish Turkey' , especially in larger cities , outside Turkish Kurdistan. Istanbul is in a way the largest " Kurdish " city (with more than 3 million Kurds inside.)

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-Kurmanji and South-Kurmanji , with notable differences between , which both possess a classical and a modern  written literature. South-Kurmanji has been more commonly known  under the name of  Sorani , from the early 1930s , while North-Kurmanji is more commonly called just Kurmanji .  For commodity  reasons and by simplification, these designations will be  used hereafter , Sorani for South-Kurmanji, and just Kurmanji for North-Kurmanji .

Kurmanji (North-Kurmanji) is far the largest Kurdish dialect .  Reserve being made of what  will be said about the Zazaki dialect in Turkish Kurdistan (see below) , Kurmanji is used by the Kurds of Turkey, and of Syria , by about one third or 30 % of the Kurds in Iraq , in the northern areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, usually called Badinan , which is adjacent to the border with Turkey and Syria . Kurmanji is also the language spoken by about one half , the northern one, of the Kurds inhabiting the ostan of Western-Azerbaijan in Iran, and by the Kurds implanted in Khurasan (a large group that reportedly would number  about one million , who continue to speak Kurmanji) ; it is as well the language spoken by the Kurds of former USSR (together with Russian), and by most of the Kurdish diaspora in Western Europe. That would  make  up  about 75 % of the Kurdish people  (internal and outer diasporas included) whose common  language is Kurmanji, with local varieties. A large and brilliant part of the Kurdish classical literature , probably the oldest, was written in Kurmanji. One of the most illustrious Kurdish classical poets, Ahmedê Khani, who lived in Northern Kurdistan (died in 1706) and wrote in Kurmanji, is the very intellectual father of the modern  Kurdish national idea . He called for Kurdish social progress, dreamed of an independent Kurdistan , is venerated by all the Kurds and  has been taken as a model  by Sorani writers.  Another master poet who wrote in Kurmanji , Melaye  Jezri (who would have lived in the 16° century) , is probably the unrivalled star in matter of Kurdish spiritualism (soufism).

The Kurds who speak Sorani, with local varieties, and use it as written language are those of  south-eastern Kurdistan, on both sides of the Iraqi-Iranian border. The city of Sulaimaniya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, is the historical centre of literary Kurdish in Sorani . Many well known Kurdish writers and intellectuals are native of  Sulaimaniya.

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-Kurmanji and South-Kurmanji (Sorani).  But contrary to Gorani ,  we have no information about  any written literature in Zazaki , yet  there is an oral folklore in this dialect . To be noticed that Zazaki is pretended by some Western authors - at the expense of the Kurds - not to be Kurdish, but to constitute another  Iranic language . This opinion , probably encouraged by the Turkish government , is contested by the Kurdish writers (see Fêrgin Melik Aykoç, Kurdîzan: Rûberkirina Zaravên Kurdi , in Kurmanji, pub. by the Kurdish Science and Research Inst. , Berlin, 1996.) The Zazaki speakers call themselves Kurds and occupy an outstanding place in the Kurdish national movement.  Unfortunately , Zazaki is very much a menaced  dialect . Most of its speakers have replaced it by speaking either North-Kurmanji or barely Turkish. ( See also Ludwig Paul, Zazaki : Grammatik und Versuch einer Dialektologie , Wiesbaden, 1998.)

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-eastern part of Ottoman Kurdistan - he said Southern Kurdistan- within the Iraqi kingdom the British were working hard to put on its feet , was that the southern  Kurds would enjoy some kind of autonomy within the kingdom, in matter of language , justice and self-government. We know how the southern Kurds had to fight , by arms , for such a regional autonomy  within Iraq , as they are today still struggling, by peaceful means,  to obtain full federalism and to practice their right of self-determination. But this is another question. Let us continue dwelling on the Kurdish linguistic problématique (the word, as a name, is French .)

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-Kurmanji be officially taught at its south-eastern border , while the same Kurmanji was a forbidden language on the other side of the border . Let us say it was a friendly British gesture . We were not far from the logic of the 1937 Saad-Abad Pact between Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, to keep the Kurdish people under control , as it was to be inspired and blessed by Britain, and if necessary to take joint measures against any Kurdish uprising.

The largest Kurdish dialect , North-Kurmanji , banned in Turkey and Syria , excluded from official teaching in Badinan and everywhere in Iran where it is spoken , was to become a menaced  language . That was part of the national oppression endured by the Kurdish people.  Each time it seemed possible, the present writer wrote articles and furthered proposals  for a remedy against this injustice. Because this was otherwise already published (on the Web www.kcdme.com or as papers), here is a brief mention of what was done :

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 - when that was legally possible, or underground - in a Roman script slightly  adapted to Kurdish , much similar to the  roman script adopted by the Republic of Turkey for Turkish . This Kurmanji-Roman script was adopted, in the early 1930s , by an outstanding Kurmanji  grammarian,  late prince Celadet Bedir-Khan   ( Bedirxan  in this alphabet),  who was heir to the Bedir-Khanid  principality  and an émigré  from Turkey in Damascus .

 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 - but this is another  story.)  Yet  the constitutional change in Iraq furthered me the first opportunity to pose the elements that constitute the Kurdish linguistic  problématique . In an article  written in English and entitled'The Problem of the Written Kurdish Language, Kurmanji or Sorani   , published in the periodical Kurdistan , organ of KSSE (Kurdish  Students' Society in Europe , of which I was then the president), London, 1959 I said the question of unification of the written Kurdish language , at the scale of all Kurdistan , is a matter of future, and that some necessary steps should be made before envisaging a future solution . The first  step suggested was to transform teaching at schools in the area of Badinan from Arabic into Kurmanji  Kurdish ,  and to adopt for this teaching the Kurdish/Roman alphabet , not exactly as made by Bedir-Khan,  but after its reform .  It was also suggested that the same alphabet be adopted for Sorani , because with two so different scripts , one based on roman characters and the other on Arabic characters,  no unification of the written Kurdish  could be envisaged . On the contrary,  differences between them would go larger and larger.  This article  was also edited as a brochure in Arabic translation , al-Ahali Press , Bagdad, 1960,  by Hafiz Mustafa al-Qadi, with a preface by Dr. Siddiq Atroushi .These two gentlemen, who hailed my proposals, were Kurdish intellectuals from Badinan, speaking Kurmanji Kurdish.

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 -speaking  area in Iraq , generally called Badinan . Depriving the Kurds of Badinan of their right to be educated in their own Kurdish, is by no means democratic. This decision lacks terribly insight into the future of the Kurdish nation. According to this view, Kurdistan is limited to the sole KRG's territory, as it was decided by Saddam Hussein.

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-Roman  script (see below), the question of unification of the written Kurdish  being open for the future. The spokesman of the assembly said :  "Teaching in Arabic in Badinan was imposed upon us, we were not in a position to change that, but Arabic is a foreign language and it did not represent any danger for our Kurmanji Kurdish  , that we continue to speak and cherish."    Then he added : "If  they want to impose upon us in Badinan an education in Sorani , now that we are free , it will be different , because Sorani is Kurdish , and this means the death of Kurmanji,  what we shall never accept."

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-in-law , was present.  Former KDP's  secretary general  in the early sixties,  who contested Mustafa Barzani's  position as the Kurdish national leader, Ibrahim   Ahmed was ousted from Iraqi Kurdistan in   1964 springtime, and found asylum in Tehran with all his Politburo  group, including Jalal Talabani.   By the beginning of October 1964  , I was asked by a friend of the Politburo group , Dr. Kemal Fuad,  to try to settle this conflictual situation, no doubt at the demand of the group. The members of the politburo group were my friends too, but for me as for the Kurdish people, Mustafa Barzani was our national leader. We travelled together , Kemal Fuad and me, into  Kurdistan.   I was received by General Barzani  at his headquarters, then in Ranya; he authorized me to continue the efforts.  I returned back to see the Politburo group in Tehran , but time had actually not come for Kurdish reconciliation at that moment.

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 - in contradiction with Art. 3 - as an Arab state . I said 'Only Arab Iraq is part of the Arab nation, while Iraqi Kurdistan is part of the Kurdish nation, which was divided by imperialism' . This having been said,   the IUS congress became the theatre of sharp discussions between our KSSE delegation and that of the General Union of Students in the Iraqi Republic , which was fully dominated by the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP).  In a reception organized by the city of Baghdad, the delegations were presented to General Abdul Karim Kassem , including  ours  (a photography published by KSSE in its organ Kurdistan  , shows General Kassem shaking hands with this writer , in the presence of Kemal Fuad and Hawrami) . One day later a security officer came into the congress quarters and informed me that 'by order of the Iraqi Military  Governor I have to leave Iraq within 24 hours' .   I then called on General Barzani, who said not to feel safe any longer to stay in Baghdad and was envisaging to return back to the mountains of Barzan.  The KDP Political Bureau  held an urgency meeting in which it was decided to advise me to comply with the order of the military  governor and to leave Iraq accordingly . I was not so much willing  to obey that order , since I was invited to a journey into Iraqi Kurdistan  that, in 1960, I had never seen .  Jalal Talabani came to see me and explained : 'The KDP is not in a position to defend you if the government wants to arrest and expel you' ; then he added : 'Thanks to your speech and the debate it caused at the IUS congress , the KDP has won, in ten days , over the Iraqi Communist Party , more members and sympathisers than in the last ten years'.  Before leaving Iraq , when the IUS congress was still  ongoing , I had translated my KSSE French speech into Arabic and Ibrahim Ahmed published it in Khebat , organ of the KDP . He was to be tried for this before the Iraqi justice.  Shortly after, General Barzani returned back to Barzan, which  was bombarded by Iraq , on 3 September 1961.  Mustafa Barzani took then arms , and led the Kurdish resistance known as the September Revolution  (1961- 1975) ,  on which I published a book up to 1970 (ICV : 1970 , op.cit. )

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-Diza   and close to the Iranian border. It could not be recommended for a KDP's guest to visit a PKK stronghold, but was I not a politically  independent person ? Kak Nechirwan  Barzani , a  nefew to  kak Mesoud  and then a young man, arranged the journey . I travelled by a mountain car , with driver and a pêshmerga (Kurdish  soldier , mark of esteem) .  The road was difficult , and by places dangerous . I spent one night at Zeli ,  as Osman Ocalan's guest . He formulated proposals to be submitted to kak  Mesoud , for a good relationship between the two parties . Back to Salaheddin, I met with kak Mesoud, who came to say me goodbye at the guesthouse. I handed him the proposals made by Osman Ocalan , then I spoke about the linguistic  problem . He said it is a political question; besides, people in Badinan are free to publish magazines or books in Kurmanji.  That is true , as an expression of personal freedom , but to make of Kurmanji the official  language in the areas where it is spoken , is another thing.   

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-Roman  alphabet

In an  article  written in French (15 pages), I fully  explained why  and how  the Kurdish-Roman  alphabet prepared by late Celadet Bedir-Khan  , with the participation of late Roger Lescot, a French orientalist and ambassador,  as  expert and adviser , should be reformed .  The Bedir-Khan  alphabet is fully  phonetical, as  German and Turkish  (one can read more or less correctly even if he ignores the language), contrary to French and English (where very often written characters are not pronounced). Furthermore , the Bedir-Khan's alphabet  is full with French diacritic  marks  , especially  the accent circonflexe  ( as in  ê , î , and û)  which represent a burden on each word, that one would not find at a current computer keyboard . I call this mark the " French hat  ". In the Bedir-Khan alphabet the recourse to digraphs ( for instance ee for ê)  was excluded . The proposed reform is presently on the Web (www.kcdme.com) ,  and a  good summary of it was published, in Kurmanji ,  in the magazine Zend , No. 1 , Istanbul,  spring 1994  , edited by the Kurdish Institute at Istanbul (in Kurdish :  ZEND , kovara Enstîtuya Kurdî) . Let us notice the two French circonflexe marks , or " French hat " (on the î) found in this Kurdish designation are not necessary but useless, a burden for writing . As to the name Enstîtuya (for institute) used in Kurdish,  it was borrowed  from Turkish ,  and the Turks had borrowed it orally  from the French Institut,, where the final 't' is not pronounced . The name Enstîtuya thus adopted in Kurmanji, would better be written Enstituta .My reform proposals of this alphabet can be summed up in few lines : all the " French hats " (accent circonflexe ) should be removed, and  digraphs , instead, should be introduced. Here are  a few examples : ee  for ê ; ie for î (if the vowel is long enough) ; ou for û ; sh for the curiuos s with a " pick " at its bottom ; never to put a " French hat " over a final 'i' in names or words  such as Elemanî (German), Kurmanjî, Erebî (Arab , or Arabic) ; not to write Tirk for Turk.  Furthermore , the Arabic guttural consonants such   as  the h (in heywan= animal) or the  Semetic " 'eyn " do not exist in Kurdish , but rural  Kurds especially in Turkey use them, as well as the Arabic " qaf " for k  in words such as Council , Conseil in French,   which  they  pronounce Qonsey , with a Semitic qaf , while K does exist in Kurdish . Such words were borrowed  by the Turks from Western Europe, and the Kurds borrowed them from Turkish .  Such a Kurdish name presently written stêr (star in English , Stern in German, astre in French), should be written steer in Kurmanji according to my reform proposals (with no " French hat " over) . Western  personal names  of  authors , philosophers , musicians, scientists, politics, should be written as they are in their original Roman script , in   order to identify them, and not to corrupt them phonetically, as the Turks often do  . The Arabs write such names in Arabic script and nobody can identify who they are or make any research about them.. Once  in Istanbul I read  a street name wrtten in Turkish Pyerloti caddesi.  I readily understood it was a street dedicated to the French writer Pierre Loti , who had written novels about Istanbul , but few foreigners would be able to identify the person. Some Kurds who wrote about a reform of the Bedir-Khan's  alphabet seem to think it should respond to local, say each village variety,  as if more complexity and confusion , if not a blind imitation of Turkish  syntax , were needed, while the aim of the proposed reform is simplification,  economy, and standardization . Sorani too needs a reform of its Arabic-based alphabet, but this was beyond the knowledge of the present writer  to further any proposals.

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-operation with the coalition forces (USA and Britain), the Syrian Baathist state savagely aggressed , in March 2004 , its own Syrian Kurds . These revolted and defended themselves with their hands. About one hundred Kurds were killed , 300 injured and more than 3000 others were arrested (see  Radwan Badini, The Kurds in Syria : An Appointment with History , in Arabic, Paris, 2005, possibly also ed. in Russian .)  There is, however ,  an important difference between the 24 or so million Kurds in Turkey and the 2,5 or so million Kurds  in Syria : these , to the exception of those who had from centuries forgotten their language deep  in inner Syria, continue to  speak and chrish their Kurmanji language , although it is banned by the Syrian Baath . They know Arabic , since it is the sole official language, but they make it a question of honour to bring up their children in the Kurmanji language . How do they perform this, in all the Kurdish-inhabited areas of northern Syria, close to the Turkish border , from Kurd-Dagh ( also said Efrin) , northwest of Aleppo and adjacent to the former Sanjak of Alexandretta,  to the province of Jazira   (also said Hasaka), which is close to both Turkish Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan ? It is a matter of honour, and courage , a lesson to be meditated on by the Kurdish people in Turkey.    

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-English Dictionary , the Kurdish being Kurmanji  ( entitled in Kurdish : Ferhanga Kurmanci-Inglîzî , Yale University Press, 2003 , in both adapted Latin and Arabic alphabets) , remarks in the introduction of his work :

" 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 -- let us take as examples Efrîn in northwestern Syria, and Kars in northeastern Turkey, on the border with Soviet Armenia --, readily possess a mutual intelligibility. In San Diego, one even hears Kurmanji speakers conversing with Sorani speakers -  each speaking his own dialect and understanding the other.  It is not possible to avoid  encountering  regional differences in the dictionary of a language as rich as  Kurmanji (….). A factor that complicates matters even more is that  in spite of the illiteracy of the majority of the Kurdish populace, there exist three different alphabets in  which Kurdish can be written : Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic. "

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 - not to mention those of Northern Iraq - , many Kurds have moved  to large Turkish-speaking cities, where the pressure on them to assimilate is enormous . In ten years , the number of Kurmanji speakers can fall drastically(….). If they (the Kurds) continue the recent trend  of speaking to their children in more " prestigious " languages, be it Turkish  or the languages of Europe, Kurdish will share the fate of many of the languages of the Native  American Indians (…).   If the beautiful Kurdish language dies due to lack of interest on the part of its speakers , it will indeed be a pity. "

It is unhappily true that the urban middle and upper class children in Turkish Kurdistan speak increasingly Turkish and ignore Kurdish , while the Kurdish-speaking rural population , whose villages were levelled to earth by the state security forces , in the early 1990s , pretexting the PKK fighting , had no choice but to seek a living in Kurdish or Turkish cities, if not in Western Europe. The examples experienced by the writer of this paper , some of which mentioned above, could be multiplied by hundreds . We find the same trend in the Kurdish emigration from Turkey in Western Europe. If we take the example of Germany ,  the children of the Kurdish workers (Gast Arbeiter)  speak Turkish , but very seldom any Kurdish . That depends on their parents. In the  places the Kurdish workers in Germany call komel, where they can meet to chat, eat , drink tea and have some social life , one can read, in Turkish " Please keep the WC clean. " The PKK's documents are published first in Turkish, as the reference language - perhaps with the purpose  to make them understandable by the Turks -, then they are translated into Kurmanji.

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-speaking city, and other parts, such as Sheikhan and Sinjar , where Kurmanji is spoken, depend on the city of Mosul , itself a mixture of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Christians, and placed beyond the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) . In other words, today's Badinan  lacks any unity and has no status and this situation is not healthy. I received about this some recent reports.

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-speakers in Iraqi Kurdistan as to the status of their language, about which I had a personal experience in 1993 , mentioned above, at the Dehok's Union of Kurdish Writers, when the 11th KDP Congress was to be held in Arbil, is obviously ongoing , No solution has been found, nor even tempted . This situation should not continue .  It is a nonsense that the Kurds of Barzan, Sheikhan, or Sinjar should begin their education in a language other than Kurmanji . It is not democratic , and contrary to the interest of the Kurdish nation, if this interest is well understood, to impose education in Sorani on the university of Dehok for such departments as history and geography, or an education in Arabic, as in the law school of this university. It is not patriotic to be insensitive to the unhappiness of the Kurds in Syria  and to their calamities in Turkey, not to speak of their trouble in Badinan, as to the future of Kurmanji. The Sorani Kurds in particular, who enjoy a far better linguistic position than those of endangered Kurmanji, should not let the language of Ahmedê Khani, dwindle away. They can be helpful. Then what to do ? Here are proposals which , being generally interlinked, would require a global appraisal . I was asked by  Kurds from, and in Iraq, and I feel it  my duty, to further them :

A --We have noted the absence of any administrative unity for the area called Badinan , where Kurmanji is spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan . The Iraqi Kurds fought for a long while with arms to obtain within Iraq a  political autonomy for  Iraqi Kurdistan . Today that they have obtained, by the Iraqi  Constitution, the recognition of the KRG's  territory as an Iqlîm , that is  a state within a federal Iraq , they are still struggling , by political and peaceful means, to bring other Kurdish areas , or having a Kurdish majority, into the KRG  territory , such as Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Sheikhan, Sinjar.

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 - but not those of the cantons -  should be published. Should we add to this list, Brasil , India , Belgium , etc. (see :  Multinational Democracies , ed.  A-G. Gagnon and  J. Taylor , Cambridge, 2001.)

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-speaking people in Iraqi Kurdistan , and this wish should be respected . No Kurdish leader has the right to ignore the people's wish. The united Kurmanji space should include , not only Mergasor and Barzan , but also such areas as Sheikhan and Sinjar , which are beyond  today's KRG's territory . Even if an area as Sinjar cannot  supposedly have  a direct territorial contact with Dehok , it should be placed within the Kurmanji space .  Since all Badinan is part of Iraq , as the KRG itself ,  the Kurmanji space can be created only by the top political responsibles in Iraq ,that is Mesoud Barzani, in his double quality of President of KRG and  KDP, Jalal Talabani , in his double quality of President of the Iraqi Republic and leader of PUK, and probably the Iraqi Prime Minister, or their representatives. This should  be done by a law instituting a KURMANJI SPACE COUNCIL , endowed with necessary legal capacities, administrative and finanancial  means , to manage the Kurmanji space. A General Director should be designated, or elected, at the head of the Council . The members should be qualified Iraqi Kurmanji-speaking Kurds , but a representation of Sorani Kurds at the Council is desirable for the purpose of co-operation and matters of common interest.  Distinction should be made between present administrative divisions, that could be easily changed, and a united Kurmanji space covering all Badinan, which should be kept as inherited from history.

B-Since the Iraqi Constitution and the KRG Constitution both guarantee individual freedoms of citizens, the writer of the present paper launches an appeal to create a civil society institution independent of political parties, called DEFENCE COUNCIL OF KURMANJI KURDISH (hereafter : DCKK),.seated preferably in Dehok city as main centre, but structured as a federation , or a confederation , with branches, or similar civil society institutions, in the four parts of Kurdistan , and in the Kurdish emigration abroad, in Europe, the Russian Federation , and USA . If DCKK is structured as a confederation, co-operation and union between its components (or regional branches) are required . The aims should be : defence of democracy, human rights, self-determination, and defence of  endangered Kurmanji . This defence , by peaceful means, should be done before the states dividing Kurdistan , the KRG , and on the international field, before the Council of Europe and the United Nations, possibly by mandated known lawyers . A foundation (waqf) , or several ones, should be created for fundraising to support the Council . Membership at DCKK should be open to qualified persons. A representation of Sorani intellectuals at the Kurmanji defence council is desirable , I would say required, for Kurdish and democratic solidarity , and common interest. Since the DCKK's aims are the defence of Kurmanji Kurdish and democratic rights , and because Baathist Syria and a militarily threatening Turkey are actually still aiming at the death of  Kurmanji , the Iraqi government, together with KRG, could perhaps be helpful , face to any threat , to bring the case before the United Nations.

C -  As a general  rule, the Kurmanji-speaking Kurds of Badinan should be educated in Kurmanji . Yet teaching scientific matters in English, such as medicine and engineering , for both Sorani and Kurmanji students, is a good choice. As to Arabic, it is the most important oriental language , in which treasures of knowledge have been vehiculed to us from the Middle Age, particularly the Abbasid era.  Persian is probably the second language in importance with this respect , before Turkish. Teaching the Arabic , Persian , or Turkish languages, in their own  script , as foreign languages , at official universities and institutes of Iraqi Kurdistan , should be made possible for the Kurdish students who want it, as optional programme, whether they speak Sorani or Kurmanji. It should be made similarly possible to educate Kurdish students to become specialists in matter of other foreign languages and civilisations , such as English, French, German, Spanish, or Russian, thanks to an optional choice.

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-dent  in French , phonetically pronounced as Kurdan . Kemalist Turkey had borrowed the word from French (as a mark of civilisation !), and the northern Kurds took it from the Turks. In modern Turkish most of the words related to arts , movie and culture are French , but today's Turks ignore it.

D - I repeat the idea I suggested to Mam Jalal , at his Qara Cholan residence, in August 1993, a few days after the KDP 11th Congress, that he said it was a good idea (see above under subtitle 5) . But I would somehow modify it , since it  has never been applied .  Why should Sorani be excluded from any teaching in Badinan and,  vice versa, Kurmanji teaching be excluded in the Sorani-speaking areas ? Why should we, the Kurds,  treat ourselves as if we were still constituted of antagonistic tribes ? Why should sorani speakers never study any Kurmanji, and Kurmanji  speakers never study any Sorani, are we wild beasts?  Should one of these two Kurdish dialects kill the other to survive ?

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, that Sorani-speaking students may have a few hours per week to learn Kurmanji , and  vice-versa , in Badinan, the Kurmanji-speaking students have the same time to learn Sorani .  It is also desirable that at the stage of higher education -university level - students may have , as personal option,  an education enabling those who want it to become experts , or professors, in Kurmanji in the Sorani areas, and in Sorani in the area  of Badinan.

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-development of the Kurdish  areas , reduced in fact  to the level of an internal , but nameless  colony, the banning of the Kurdish language, Kurmanji , henceforth menaced with extinction, all this is summarily said above, under several subtitles, as a consequence of the Turkish state policy. A few examples experienced  personally by this writer have been mentioned. It was also mentioned the recent murder, in Istanbul, of Hrand Dink , Turkish citizen and journalist of Armenian origin whose crime was to have mentioned the Armenian genocide of 1915.  Let us add to this that the Turkish writer  Orhan Pamuk , winner of the 2006 Nobel prize in literature , who became the pride of Turkey, was obliged to flee his country to the United States, under threat with death by Turkish ultra-nationalistic bands, because he had paid homage, on January 21, 2007 , to the memory of Hrant Dink, and to have mentioned  a Kurdish genocide , after the Armenian's .

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 :

-- By mid-January 2007 , a symposium was held at a room of the Belgian parliament in Brussels, by Kurmanji-speaking Kurds from Turkey . In its final declaration  , Turkey was requested to authorize education in the Kurdish language at the state's  public universities and institutes ; the European Union was requested  to ask Turkey to abolish, or review Article 3 of the Turkish Constitution , so that education in Kurdish, at state's universities, may become legally open .

-- At the same time, mid-January 2007, a Kurdish conference was held in Ankara, with a general thema entitled Turkey's Search (or Road) For Peace , and a subtitle , The Kurdish Question and its Solution. The meeting was  political as well , attended by about 200 persons, writers, MPs, politicians. Among the participants there were the internationally known writer  Yasar Kemal of Kurdish origin  (born in Van) who wrote in Turkish and was translated into foreign languages , and the well known Kurdish novelist Mehmet Uzun , who published in Kurmanji , especially in Sweden, and is back home (unfortunately he has a health problem.)  This conference demanded , as the Brussels symposium, that Kurmanji Kurdish  be recognized as an education language at the state universities in Turkey . The political and social demands can be summed up as follow : A general amnesty for the PKK members and their reinsertion in the civil society ; liberation of the political prisoners ; the return of the Kurds whose villages  were destroyed by the security forces to their original places,  and reconstruction of their villages by the state ; abolition of the so-called village-protectors units (armed Kurdish auxiliary units under the order of Turkish security or military forces) ; economic development of the Kurdish-inhabited areas ; abolition of the " election dam " requiring 10 % of the valid voices for a party or a district to be represented at the Turkish parliament. These demands are mentioned in a final declaration of the conference, which was read by Yasar Kemal .

-- There are Kurds , and Turkish democratic people, who demand a federalist solution for the Kurdish national question in Turkey . One of them is Abdul Melik Firat, former MP and grandson of late Sheikh Said,  the leader of the 1925 Kurdish uprising who was executed by Turkey (we still ignore his burial place.)   Another is Serefettin Elci , former Kurdish minister in the Turkish government.

-- Since 2004 , private broadcasting or television programmes are authorized in Kurmanji , under many conditions : They should be only cultural, no international news , no programmes for children ; limited to a total of 4 hours and  5 days per week . At a Turkish state television channel , there is a programme in Kurdish , 45 minutes per day , with a Turkish translation on the screen.  In the electoral campaigns , whether  municipal or parliamentary , the oral or written use of any language other than Turkish is forbidden .

-- The Kurdish municipality of Diyarbekir has trouble with the Turkish state . It is known that in the Islamic lunar calendar, the end of the fast month of Ramadan is celebrated as a feast, with exchange of good wishes and gifts. On the occasion of the last feast celebrating the end of Ramadan (in September 2006 ?) , the municipality of Diyarbekir expressed its good wishes on its Web site , and apparently by sending written cards, in three languages , Turkish, Kurmanji , and English (in Kurmanji : Jejna we pîroz be.) Because of the use of Kurdish by the municipality of Diyarbekir , the Turkish minister of Home Affairs has opened  an official inquiry against it . Furthermore, the two municipal counties, or subdivisions of Diyarbekir,  Sur and Yenishehirof, have instituted a  bilingual service  , in Kurmanji and Turkish, according to which no new municipal civil servants can be employed unless they know Kurmanji . This had as a consequence the opening of another inquiry by the Turkish home affair minister, and of a criminal inquiry by the Turkish state prosecutor , against the Kurdish municipality. Those initiatives, accomplished by Kurdish duly elected municipals, are considered as  illegal and anticonstitutional by  the so-called democratic Turkey , said to be " advancing on the way of democracy " by the European Union.

-- Apparently the PKK leadership , present on the terrain, pays more attention that Kurmanji be learned and spoken by the guerrilla , even by those who are not Kurds . I have with this respect a personal experience. A Swiss idealistic young man named David Rouiller , from the district of Lausanne , with whom I had  once met (he preferred to be called Patrick rather than David) , left suddenly the easy life in Switzerland , his studies,  and disappeared one day of December 2003, when he was about 30 , without giving any news to his worrying parents. I was told by Kurds in Lausanne who had known him that he should have joined the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan . I managed  by a space phone number to talk with my old friend Osman Ocalan, still in Iraqi Kurdistan , who said David was there and in good shape . He was unwilling to leave Kurdistan, even to write to his parents. I told the parents about the good new , and his courageous mother arranged a journey to see  her son in Kurdistan, together with a Kurdish film-maker living in Bern.  The result was a movie documentary and somehow family film , which was projected as a special programme at the Cinémathèque suisse , in Lausanne, in January 2007 .  Together with the Rouiller family and  hundreds of Swiss and Kurdish spectators , I heard David , who was promoted to the rank of a unit responsible, speaking Kurmanji Kurdish , amid mountain forests, in the presence of his fellow-PKK partisans, boys and girls , defending justice and the rights of the Kurdish people. David  has learned Kurmanji within the PKK . The PKK's guerrilla camps in Iraqi Kurdistan are scattered over a large area , and camouflaged,  face to the threat represented by about 200'000 Turkish soldiers concentrated at the border , with an air force . The film shows life at the PKK camps  extremely Spartan ; everybody has something to do in house-, or rather cottage-keeping ; men's and women's quarters are separate and any romance between them is strictly forbidden ; yet sociological and political lectures, arms training , and if need  be, defence operations are shared by the two genders. Those bases are not terrorist , as they are said by Turkey , but patriotic camps , animated by men and women with a purpose in life ,  to do the Kurdish people justice , if possible by peaceful means. That was said by David in Kurmanji, and French , in the presence of his mother . Apparently, David has won  to the case he defends the support of his family, including his father, former judge at the Swiss Federal Court .

 13) Turkey, the European Union, and the Kurds

During the years of fighting between the PKK guerrilla and the Turkish state (1984-1999), especially in the 1990s, the European Parliament and the Legislative Assembly of the Council of Europe , by successive resolutions , launched appeals asking the Turkish government and the Kurdish people, including  PKK ,  to reach a political solution to the Kurdish question by dialogue and peaceful means. When Abdullah Ocalan, president of PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), thanks to an international conspiracy , had been arrested , handed over to Turkey, in February 1999 , and unjustly condemned to a death penalty by the Turkish State Security Court , the European Union (hereafter : EU ) stopped suddenly to speak about a  Kurdish people in Turkey and the need of a political solution to the Kurdish question. That was  shameful. Besides, PKK had  no other choice but uprising against injustice.

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-determination. As to KNK , my intention was to resign its presidency already in 2003 . On the demand of its Executive Council , that was postponed for a year, in order to prepare an extraordinary general assembly ; the assembly took place in June 2004 , then I resigned . I was president of KNK over five years (1999-2004) , as an independent Kurd expected to bring together , if it was possible, the Kurdish political parties , including PKK, according to the KNK's charter  . When I had seen this was impossible, I resigned . Time had apparently not come for a  Kurdish nationwide, and efficient , organisation.

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-determination is refused " . The Time  magazine  , issue of  March 1st , 1999, put it in these terms : " The Kurds constitute the world's largest ethnic community  without  a status of nationhood " . The present writer would have said " the world's largest stateless nation. "

Helmut  Schmidt , the former social-democrat Chancellor of  Germany, in an interview with a German  daily , Berliner Tagesspiegel , dated 31 December 2000 , says : " The Allied Powers committed  a gross mistake at the Versailles Treaty of 1919 , in  not deciding to create an independent Kurdish state."  Then ,  criticising the decision admitting  Turkey as candidate at accession to the EU , without a prior solution to the Kurdish question , Mr. Schmidt adds :  "The Kurdish and Turkish communities  are fighting each other in the streets of  Hamburg , sometimes with arms .  Are we going to introduce this serious conflict into Europe ? The admission of Turkey as candidate at accession to the EU was a gross mistake .  The price to be paid by Europe would be very high."

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 - such as the official recognition of the Kurdish people , of the name of Kurdistan, a status for autonomy, perhaps a federalist status -  to the European Commission, or to a EU's summit , as Kurdish demands within Turkey. It was said above there are in the world many examples of Multinational Democracies. I have the unpleasant  feeling that the far largest part of Kurdistan - in Turkey - , has become the weakest part , the sole in which the Kurdish language  is menaced  with death, not only because of Turkish oppression , but also because of the attitude of the Kurds themselves, who prefer to speak Turkish than Kurdish , by personal interest or fear . This feeling is shared by the other Kurds, in Syria, Iraq, and Iran . If I should have any  advice to the Kurds and their representatves in Turkey , it would be this :  be courageous ! , speak Kurdish and teach it to your children! let the EU and the world   know your wish, your will , that you want to live in a  truly democratic, and binational Turkey, representing its two main nationalities, the Turks and the Kurds , and respecting the rights of its different minorities .  It should also be known, and demanded by the Kurds in Turkey ,  that their Kurmanji language can be saved from death only if it is made an official language , be it together with Turkish , in a geographical space called Kurdistan , a name that existed under the Ottomans. This name , Kurdistan , should be reintroduced in a democratic Turkey, as the homeland of its Kurds and the space where Kurmanji could be maintained and prosper.

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-European, just Kurds beyond Europe . I don't believe this would be in the interest of the Kurds and Kurdistan, while a partnership between  EU and Turkey, between EU and Kurdistan, is something possible, and probably in the interest of all concerned parties .  V. Giscard d'Estaing  says Turkey is not European , geographically speaking . I would add  it is not European on the cultural field either, although some layer of its political establishment presents itself as European , in opposition to the culture of the large mass of the Turkish people.

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 Saad-Abad logic , despite globalisation, is not totally dead . The Kurdish people live within non democratic states , Turkey, Iran and Syria, and an utterly chaotic Iraq . Even the Iraqi Kurds , seen by the other Kurds as enjoying the best position , are not completely sure of the future  . Will the KRG recover the other Kurdish areas in Iraq , such as Kirkuk ? Nobody knows . Have they the right to extract the oil fields discovered within the KRG territory, to their own profit ? The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said recently they don't have this right , they should share their oil with the other Iraqis. Will Turkey violate once more the KRG territory , at the pursuit of PKK ? Nobody knows, it is not to be excluded.

The US President Bush lost his Republican Party's majority at the Congress, in the mid-term general elections , before the Democratic Party . The war in Iraq , with its savage blood shedding , especially between its Sunni and Shii Arabs , has become unpopular in the United States .  The US " Iraq Study Group Report ", a group co-chaired by James A. Baker and L.H. Hamilton , representing respectively the Republican and the Democratic parties , recommends co-operation between the United States, Iran, Turkey, and Syria , to bring an end  to this war . Both Mesoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani protested against this report. President Bush tried to quiet them by a phone call , but the US President cannot go for a third mandate at the White House. What could be the consequences , for the Kurds  in Iraq and all the Kurdish people, of such a co-operation ? Would the Kurds be , once more, betrayed by those who are supposed to be their friends ?

It is difficult to foresee future . What one may say , without being mistaken, a Kurdish-Kurdish solidarity, and perseverance , in all circumstances , are required for salvation.

Ismet Sherif Wanli Lausanne,

mid-March 2007 .