Kurdish people

Kurdish people

Overview
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 native to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran
Iranian Kurdistan
Iranian Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the parts of Iran inhabited by Kurds and has borders with Iraq and Turkey. It includes Kurdistan Province, Kermanshah Province, Ilam Province and parts of West Azerbaijan province....

, Iraq
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

, Syria, and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. They speak the Kurdish language
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

, which is a member of the Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 branch of Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

.

The Kurds number about 30 million, the majority living in the Middle East, with significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and, in recent decades, some European countries and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 native to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran
Iranian Kurdistan
Iranian Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the parts of Iran inhabited by Kurds and has borders with Iraq and Turkey. It includes Kurdistan Province, Kermanshah Province, Ilam Province and parts of West Azerbaijan province....

, Iraq
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

, Syria, and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. They speak the Kurdish language
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

, which is a member of the Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 branch of Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

.

The Kurds number about 30 million, the majority living in the Middle East, with significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and, in recent decades, some European countries and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Kurds are an indigenous ethnic minority in countries where the Kurdistan region is located, although they have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

 since 1991. An irredentist movement
Kurdish nationalism
Kurdish nationalism is the political movement that holds that the Kurdish people are a nation deserving of a sovereign homeland, Kurdistan out of the territories where Kurdish people form a majority...

 pushes for the creation of a Kurdish nation state.

Etymology


The ultimate etymology of the name is unclear. Reynolds believes that the term Kurd is most likely related to the ancient term Qardu. The common root of Kurd and Qardu is first mentioned in a Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 tablet from the third millennium B.C. as the "land of Kar-da." Qardu is etymologically
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 related to the Assyrian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 term Urartu
Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

 corresponding to Ararat. According to Asatrian, the most reasonable explanation of this ethnonym is its possible connections with the Cyrtii (Cyrtaei)

Yet another suggestion proposes the name of the Carduchi mentioned by Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 as a group who opposed the retreat of the Ten Thousand through the mountains north of Mesopotamia in the 4th century BC. According to G. Asatrian, the word Kurd was first written in sources in the form of Kurt(kwrt-) in the Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

 treatise (Karnamak Ardashir Papakan and the Matadakan i Hazar Dastan), used to describe a social group or tribes that existed before the development of the modern ethnic nation. The term was adopted by Arabic writers of the early Islamic era and gradually became associated with an amalgamation of Iranian and Iranicized nomadic tribes and groups, without reference to any specific language By the 16th century, the term had become an ethnic designation in a more narrow sense. Sherefxan Bidlisi
Sherefxan Bidlisi
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi or Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi, , was a medieval Kurdish Emir and a politician from the Emirate of Bitlis....

 states that there are four division of Kurds: Kurmanj, Lur
Lurs
Lurs are an Iranic people living mainly in south-western Iran. Their population is estimated at above two million. They occupy Lorestan, Bakhtiari, and Kuh-Gilu-Boir Ahmed. "....

, Kalhur and Guran, each of which speak a different dialect or language variation. Of these, according to Ludwig Paul, only Kurmanji and possibly the Kalhuri correspond to Kurdish, while Luri and Gurani are linguistically distinct. Nonetheless, Ludwig writes that linguistics does not provide a definition for when a language becomes a dialect, and thus, non-linguistic factors contribute to the ethnic unity of some of the said groups, namely the Kurmanj, Kalhur, and Guran.

Language



The Kurdish language (Kurdish: Kurdî or کوردی) collectively refers to the related dialects spoken by the Kurds. It is mainly spoken in those parts of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 which comprise Kurdistan. Kurdish holds official status in Iraq as a national language alongside Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, is recognized in Iran as a regional language, and in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 as a minority language.

The Kurdish languages belong to the north-western sub-group of the Iranian languages
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

, which in turn belongs to the Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

 branch of the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 family.

Most Kurds are either bilingual or multilingual, speaking the language of their respective nation of origin, such as Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 and Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 as a second language
Second language
A second language or L2 is any language learned after the first language or mother tongue. Some languages, often called auxiliary languages, are used primarily as second languages or lingua francas ....

 alongside their native Kurdish, while those in diaspora communities often speak 3 or more languages. Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews or Kurdistani Jews are the ancient Eastern Jewish communities, inhabiting the region known as Kurdistan in northern Mesopotamia, roughly covering parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. Their clothing and culture is similar to neighbouring Kurdish Muslims and Christian...

 and some Kurdish Christians
Kurdish Christians
Kurdish Christians are Kurds who follow Christianity and mostly live in the Kurdistan region. The word is derived from the Greek words and . The Arabic word is also sometimes used. Kurdish Christians should not be confused with other historical Christian communities living in the area such as...

 (not be confused with ethnic Assyrians) usually speak Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 (for example: Lishana Deni
Lishana Deni
Lishana Deni is a modern Jewish Aramaic language, often called Neo-Aramaic or Judeo-Aramaic. It was originally spoken in the town of Zakho and its surrounding villages in northern Iraq, on the border with Turkey. Most speakers now live in and around Jerusalem...

) as their first language. Aramaic is a Semitic language
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 related to Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 rather than Kurdish.

The most commonly accepted classification of Kurdish dialects is that of the late Prof. D. N. Mackenzie. According to Mackenzie, there are few linguistic features that all Kurdish dialects have in common and that are not at the same time found in other Iranian languages
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

.

The Kurdish dialects according to Mackenzie are classified as:
  • Northern group (The Kurmanji
    Kurmanji
    Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

     dialect group.)
  • Central group (Part of the Sorani
    Soranî
    Soranî is the name of a Kurdish language that is spoken in Iran and Iraq. Soranî is one of the main Kurdish languages, which are a branch of the Iranian languages.- Name :...

     dialect group)
  • Southern group (Part of the Sorani
    Soranî
    Soranî is the name of a Kurdish language that is spoken in Iran and Iraq. Soranî is one of the main Kurdish languages, which are a branch of the Iranian languages.- Name :...

     dialect group) including Kermanshahi, Ardalani and Laki language
    Laki language
    Laki is a Northwestern Iranian language. Although it is usually grouped with Southern Kurdish dialects, Ethnologue classifies it as a fourth subgroup of Kurdish....



According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, The Kurdish language
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 has two main groups:
  • The Kurmanji
    Kurmanji
    Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

     dialect group.
  • The Sorani
    Soranî
    Soranî is the name of a Kurdish language that is spoken in Iran and Iraq. Soranî is one of the main Kurdish languages, which are a branch of the Iranian languages.- Name :...

     dialect group.

and several sub-dialects:
  • Kermanshahi/Feyli
    Feyli
    Feyli can refer to:*Feyli , a group of Lor tribes located mainly in Lorestan*Feyli , a dialect of Southern Kurdish...

  • Laki language
    Laki language
    Laki is a Northwestern Iranian language. Although it is usually grouped with Southern Kurdish dialects, Ethnologue classifies it as a fourth subgroup of Kurdish....

  • Gorani language
    Gorani language
    Gorani is a Northwestern Iranian language, that includes Hewrami, and is spoken by Kurdish populations in the southernmost parts of Iranian Kurdistan and the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Some linguists classify it as a member of the Zaza–Gorani branch of the Northwestern Iranian languages...

  • Zazaki language
    Zazaki language
    Zazaki is an Indo-European language spoken primarily in eastern Turkey. According to Ethnologue, the language is a part of the northwestern group of the Iranian section of the Indo-European family. Zazaki shares many features, structures, and vocabulary with Gorani, Talyshi and other Caspian...



Although specialized sources consider Zaza–Gorani  to be separate languages which share a large number of words with Kurdish, the general term Kurd has, nevertheless, historically been used to designate also these groups.

Commenting on the differences between the "dialects" of Kurdish, Kreyenbroek clarifies that in some ways, Kurmanji and Sorani are as different from each other as English and German, giving the example that Kurmanji has grammatical gender and case-endings, but Sorani does not, and observing that referring to Sorani and Kurmanji as "dialects" of one language is supported only by "their common origin...and the fact that this usage reflects the sense of ethnic identity and unity of the Kurds."

Population


The number of Kurds living in Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...

 is estimated at 26-34 million, with another one or two million living in diaspora.
Kurds are the fourth largest ethnicity in the Middle East after Arabs, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, and Turks
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Kurds comprise 20% of the population in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, 15-20% in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, perhaps 8% in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, 7% in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and 1.3% in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. In all of these countries except Iran, Kurds form the second largest ethnic group. Roughly 55% of the world's Kurds live in Turkey, about 18% each in Iran and Iraq, and a bit over 5% in Syria.

McDowall has estimated that in 1991 the Kurds comprised 19% of the population in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, 23% in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, 10% in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, and 8% in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. The total number of Kurds in 1991 was in this estimate placed at 22.5 million, with 48% of this number living in Turkey, 18% in Iraq, 24% in Iran, and 4% in Syria.


History




Origins


During the ancient empires of the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids, the word "Kurd" was an umbrella term to refer to all the pastoral nomadic people of the Iranian origin (Such as Kurd, Lur
Lurs
Lurs are an Iranic people living mainly in south-western Iran. Their population is estimated at above two million. They occupy Lorestan, Bakhtiari, and Kuh-Gilu-Boir Ahmed. "....

 and Baloch
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

i people). A special term which seems to refer to a specific people was the "Kermani" people which is surmised to have been a reference to today Kurmanji
Kurmanji
Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

 people. As D. N. MacKenzie states, the sorani
Soranî
Soranî is the name of a Kurdish language that is spoken in Iran and Iraq. Soranî is one of the main Kurdish languages, which are a branch of the Iranian languages.- Name :...

 dialect is probably the result of a recent (probably medieval) Kurmanji influence on a Gorani
Gorani language
Gorani is a Northwestern Iranian language, that includes Hewrami, and is spoken by Kurdish populations in the southernmost parts of Iranian Kurdistan and the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Some linguists classify it as a member of the Zaza–Gorani branch of the Northwestern Iranian languages...

 substratum and hence the Kurdish language must have developed in west Azerbaijan and greater Armenia rather than Media proper (which included the Zagros).

The Kurds as an ethnic group appear in the medieval period.
The medieval group is of heterogenous origins, combining a number of earlier tribal or ethnic groups including Median
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 Semitic, Turkic and Armenian elements.

Historical tribal names that have been associated with the ethnogenesis of the Kurds include the Lullubi
Lullubi
The Lullubi or Lulubi were a group of tribes during the 3rd millennium BC, from a region known as Lulubum, now the Sharazor plain of in the Zagros Mountains of modern Iran...

, Guti, Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, Cyrtians, Carduchi and Mards as possible ancestors of the modern Kurdish groups. According to Minorsky there is an "ethno-geographical identification" of present day Kurds as descendent of ancient Medes, an idea based on his "historical, linguistic, and philological" arguments. This was further advanced by I. Gershevitch who provided first "a piece of linguistic confirmation" of Minorsky's identification and then another "sociolinguistic" argument. Those works of Minorsky were the base of yet another and different approach by Mackenzie. He argued that in contrast to Minorsky (and precisely Gershevitch's advancement) the evolution of the present day Kurdish language as a North Western Iranian language was to "lean more toward Persian" and in turn "marked off from Median". These disagreements of scholars caused bitter reactions. Astarian is of the opinion that there is no special genetic affinity between Median and Kurdish, Dandamaev considers Carduchi (who were from the upper Tigris near the Assyrian and Median borders) less likely than Cyrtians as ancestors of modern Kurds. However according to McDowall, the term Cyrtii was first applied to Seleucid or Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n mercenary slingers from Zagros, and it is not clear if it denoted a coherent linguistic or ethnic group. Gershevitch and Fisher consider the independent Kardouchoi or Carduchi as the ancestors of the Kurds, or at least the original nucleus of the Iranian-speaking people in what is now Kurdistan.

Medieval period


In the 7th century, the Arabs possessed the castles and fortifications of the Kurds. The conquest of the cities of Sharazor
Sharazor
Sharazor was the name of a Sassanid district , Kurdish kingdom, Ottoman vilayet and finally a Sanjak of Mosul vilayet situated to the southern and eastern part of what is now known as Iraqi Kurdistan....

 and Aradbaz took place in 643 CE.
In 846 CE, one of the leaders of the Kurds in Mosul revolted against the Caliph Al Mo'tasam who sent the commander Aitakh to combat against him. Aitakh won this war and killed many of the Kurds. The Kurds revolted again in 903 CE, during the period of Almoqtadar. Eventually Arabs conquered the Kurdish regions and gradually converted the majority of Kurds to Islam.
In the second half of the 10th century, the Kurdish area was shared among four big Kurdish principalities. In the north were the Shaddadid
Shaddadid
The Shaddadids were a Kurdish dynasty who ruled in various parts of Armenia and Arran from 951-1174 AD. They were established in Dvin. Through their long tenure in Armenia, they often intermarried with the Bagratuni royal family of Armenia....

 (951–1174) in parts of present-day Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and Arran, and the Rawadid
Rawadid
Rawadid , , was a Kurdish principality ruling Azerbaijan from the 10th to the early 11th centuries, centered around Tabriz and Maragheh. The Rawadid tribe was one of the Arab tribes who became Kurdish by culture through assimilation...

 (955–1221) in Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 and Maragheh
Maragheh
Maragheh also Romanized as Marāgheh and Marāghen) is a city in and the capital of Maragheh County, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 146,405, in 38,891 families....

. In the east were the Hasanwayhid
Hasanwayhid
Hasanawayhid or Hasanuyid was a Kurdish principality from 959 to 1015, centered at Dinawar . The principality ruled western Iran and upper Mesopotamia. The founder of the dynasty was Hasanwayh bin Husayn from the Kurdish tribe of Barzikani...

s (959–1015) and the Annazid
Annazid
The Annazid or Banu Annaz or Al-Anazis , were a Kurdish dynasty that ruled a territory on the present-day Iran-Iraq frontier that included Kermanshah, Ilam, Hulwan, Dinawar , Sharazour, Daquq, Daskara, Bandanijin, and No'maniya ...

 (990–1117) in Kermanshah
Kermanshah
Kermanshah is a city in and the capital of Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 784,602, in 198,117 families.The overwhelming majority of Kermanshahi people are Shi'a Muslims...

, Dinawar
Dinawar
Dinavar was a major city in the 8th-11th centuries, located to the northeast of Kermanshah in western Iran. The ruins of the city is now located in Dinavar District, in Sahneh County, Kermanshah Province....

 and Khanaqin
Khanaqin
Khanaqin is a city in Iraq. It is located at 34.3°N, 45.4°E in the Diyala Governorate, near the Iranian border on a tributary of the Diyala River...

. In the west were the Marwanid
Marwanid
Marwanid, , was a Kurdish dynasty in Northern Mesopotamia and Armenia, centered around the city of Amed . Other cities under rule were Arzan, Mayyāfāriqīn , Hisn Kayfa , Khilāṭ, Manzikart, Arjish. The founder of the dynasty was a Kurdish shepherd, Abu Shujā Bādh bin Dustak...

 (990–1096) of Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

. After these, the Ardalan
Ardalan
Ardalan or was the name of a vassaldom in north-western Persia during Qajar period.Ardalan vassaldom was established in an area encompassing present day Iranian province of Kurdistan from medieval period up to mid 19th century. Ardalan is also the name of the ruling family of that vassaldom...

 dynasty (14th century to 1867) were established in present-day Khanaqin
Khanaqin
Khanaqin is a city in Iraq. It is located at 34.3°N, 45.4°E in the Diyala Governorate, near the Iranian border on a tributary of the Diyala River...

, Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 and Sinne.

The most well-known Kurdish leaders to establish political domain in the region were the Ayyubid in 1171, first under the leadership of Kurdish sultan, Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

. Born in the city of Tikrit in present-day Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Saladin's ancestry was of a Kurdish tribe who originated in the city of Dvin
Dvin
Dvin was a large commercial city and the capital of early medieval Armenia. It was situated north of the previous ancient capital of Armenia, the city of Artaxata, along the banks of the Metsamor River, 35 km to the south of modern Yerevan...

 in northern Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. The Ayyubids went on to rule the Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

 plains, Syria and Egypt and Saladin led Muslims to recapture the city of Jerusalem from the Crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 at the Battle of Hattin
Battle of Hattin
The Battle of Hattin took place on Saturday, July 4, 1187, between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty....

. The Ayyubids dynasty lasted until 1341 when the last Ayyubid sultanate fell to Mongolian invasions.

Ottoman period



When Sultan Selim I
Selim I
Selim I, Yavuz Sultân Selim Khan, Hâdim-ül Haramain-ish Sharifain , nicknamed Yavuz "the Stern" or "the Steadfast", but often rendered in English as "the Grim" , was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1512 to...

, after defeating Shah Ismail I
Ismail I
Ismail I , known in Persian as Shāh Ismāʿil , was a Shah of Iran and the founder of the Safavid dynasty which survived until 1736. Isma'il started his campaign in Azerbaijan in 1500 as the leader of the Safaviyya, an extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i militant religious order and unified all of Iran...

 in 1514, annexed Armenia and Kurdistan, he entrusted the organisation of the conquered territories to Idris, the historian, who was a Kurd of Bitlis
Bitlis
Bitlis is a town in eastern Turkey and the capital of Bitlis Province. The town is located at an elevation of 1,400 metres, 15 km from Lake Van, in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris. The local economy is mainly based on agricultural products which include...

. He divided the territory into sanjaks or districts, and, making no attempt to interfere with the principle of heredity, installed the local chiefs as governors. He also resettled the rich pastoral country between Erzerum and Erivan, which had lain in waste since the passage of Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

, with Kurds from the Hakkari
Hakkari
Hakkâri , is a city and the capital of the Hakkâri Province of Turkey. The name Hakkâri is derived from the Syriac word, Akkare, meaning farmers...

 and Bohtan districts.

The Ottoman centralist policies in the beginning of the 19th century aimed to remove power from the principalities and localities, which directly affected the Kurdish emirs. Bedirhan Bey
Bedirhan Bey
Badr Khan Beg was the last emir and mutesellim of Cizre Bohtan Emirate.He began to lose his power due to the centralist policies of the Ottoman Empire, which culminated in the Tanzimat Edict of 1839 and its application the following year....

 was the last emir of the Cizre Bohtan
Cizre
Cizre is a town and district of Şırnak Province in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, located at the border to Syria, just to the north-west of the Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi tripoint....

 Emirate
Emirate
An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Muslim monarch styled emir.-Etymology:Etymologically emirate or amirate is the quality, dignity, office or territorial competence of any emir ....

 after initiating an uprising in 1847 against the Ottomans to protect the current structures of the Kurdish principalities. Although his uprising is not classified as a nationalist one, his children played significant roles in the emergence and the development of Kurdish nationalism through the next century.

The first modern Kurdish nationalist movement emerged in 1880 with an uprising led by a Kurdish landowner and head of the powerful Shemdinan family, Sheik Ubeydullah
Sheik Ubeydullah
Sheikh Ubeydullah , also known as Sayyid Ubeydullah, was the leader of the first modern Kurdish nationalist struggle...

, who demanded political autonomy or outright independence for Kurds and the recognition of a Kurdistan state without interference from Turkish or Persian authorities. The uprising against Qajar Persia
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 was ultimately suppressed by the Ottomans and Ubeydullah, along with other notables, were exiled to Istanbul.

20th century



Kurdish nationalism emerged after World War I with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 which had historically successfully integrated (but not assimilated) the Kurds, through use of forced repression of Kurdish movements to gain independence. Revolts did occur sporadically but only in 1880 with the uprising led by Sheik Ubeydullah
Sheik Ubeydullah
Sheikh Ubeydullah , also known as Sayyid Ubeydullah, was the leader of the first modern Kurdish nationalist struggle...

 were demands as an ethnic group or nation made. Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid
Abdul Hamid
Abdul Hamid is a Muslim male given name, and in modern usage, surname. It is built from the Arabic words Abd, al- and Ḥamid. The name means "servant of the All-laudable", al-Ḥamīd being one of the names of God in the Qur'an, which give rise to the Muslim theophoric names.The letter a of the al- is...

 responded by a campaign of integration by co-opting prominent Kurdish opponents to strong Ottoman power with prestigious positions in his government. This strategy appears successful given the loyalty displayed by the Kurdish Hamidiye
Hamidiye
Hamidiye may refer to:* Hamidiye , Kurdish cavalry of the Ottoman era, established 1890* Ottoman cruiser Hamidiye, a warship of the Balkan wars and World War I...

 regiments during World War I.

The Kurdish ethnonationalist movement that emerged following World War I and end of the Ottoman empire was largely reactionary to the changes taking place in mainstream Turkey, primarily radical secularization
Secularization
Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions...

 which the strongly Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 Kurds abhorred, centralization of authority which threatened the power of local chieftains and Kurdish autonomy, and rampant Turkish nationalism
Turkish nationalism
Turkish nationalism is a political ideology that promotes and glorifies the Turkish people, as either a national, ethnic or linguistic group and puts the interests of the state over other influences, including religious ones.-Pan-Turkism:...

 in the new Turkish Republic which obviously threatened to marginalize them.

Jakob Künzler
Jakob Künzler
Jakob Künzler was a Swiss who resided in an oriental mission in Urfa and who witnessed the Armenian Genocide....

, head of a missionary hospital in Urfa, has documented the large scale ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

 of both Armenians and Kurds by the Young Turks
Young Turks
The Young Turks , from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) were a coalition of various groups favouring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan and favoured a re-installation of the short-lived Kanûn-ı Esâsî constitution...

 during World War I.

He has given a detailed account of deportation of Kurds from Erzurum
Erzurum
Erzurum is a city in Turkey. It is the largest city, the capital of Erzurum Province. The city is situated 1757 meters above sea level. Erzurum had a population of 361,235 in the 2000 census. .Erzurum, known as "The Rock" in NATO code, served as NATO's southeastern-most air force post during the...

 and Bitlis
Bitlis
Bitlis is a town in eastern Turkey and the capital of Bitlis Province. The town is located at an elevation of 1,400 metres, 15 km from Lake Van, in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris. The local economy is mainly based on agricultural products which include...

 in winter of 1916. The Kurds were perceived to be subversive elements that would take the Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 side in the war. In order to eliminate this threat, Young Turks embarked on a large scale deportation of Kurds from the regions of Djabachdjur, Palu, Musch, Erzurum and Bitlis. Around 300,000 Kurds were forced to move southwards to Urfa and then westwards to Aintab
Gaziantep
Gaziantep , Ottoman Turkish: Ayintab) previously and still informally called Antep; ʻayn tāb is a city in southeast Turkey and amongst the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The city is located 185 kilometres northeast of Adana and 127 kilometres by road north of Aleppo, Syria...

 and Marasch
Kahramanmaras
-Industry:Kahramanmaraş's industry is mainly based on textile and ice cream. Kahramanmaraş is one of the biggest textile industry cities of Turkey. Companies like Kipaş, İskur, Arsan and Bozkurt are one of the richest companies in the city...

. In the summer of 1917, Kurds were moved to the Konya
Konya
Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The metropolitan area in the entire Konya Province had a population of 1,036,027 as of 2010, making the city seventh most populous in Turkey.-Etymology:...

 region in central Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. Through this measures, the Young Turk leaders aimed at eliminating the Kurds by deporting them from their ancestral lands and by dispersing them in small pockets of exiled communities. By the end of World War I, up to 700,000 Kurds were forcibly deported and almost half of the displaced perished.
Some of the Kurdish groups sought self-determination and the championing in the Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Sèvres
The Treaty of Sèvres was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy...

 of Kurdish autonomy in the aftermath of World War I
Aftermath of World War I
The fighting in World War I ended in western Europe when the Armistice took effect at 11:00 am GMT on November 11, 1918, and in eastern Europe by the early 1920s. During and in the aftermath of the war the political, cultural, and social order was drastically changed in Europe, Asia and Africa,...

, Kemal Atatürk prevented such a result. Kurds backed by the United Kingdom declared independence in 1927 and established so-called Republic of Ararat
Republic of Ararat
The Republic of Ararat or Kurdish Republic of Ararat was a self-proclaimed Kurdish state. It was located in the northeasten part of modern Turkey, being centered on Karaköse Province...

. Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 suppressed Kurdist revolts in 1925, 1930, and 1937–1938, while Iran did the same in the 1920s to Simko Shikak
Simko Shikak
Simko Shikak also Ismail Agha Shikak ) was a Kurdish chieftain of the Shakak tribe...

 at Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia , ancient name: Lake Matiene) is a salt lake in northwestern Iran, near Iran's border with Turkey. The lake is between the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea...

 and Jaafar Sultan of Hewraman region who controlled the region between Marivan
Marivan
Marivan also known as Qal‘eh-ye Marīvān - "Fort Marivan"; formerly, Dez Shahpur , also Romanized as Dezh Shāhpūr and Dezh Shapoor) is a city in and capital of Marivan County, Kurdistan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 91,664, in 22,440 families...

 and north of Halabja
Halabja
Halabja , is a Kurdish town in Northern Iraq, located about north-east of Baghdad and 8–10 miles from the Iranian border....

. A short-lived Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

-sponsored Kurdish Republic of Mahabad
Republic of Mahabad
The Republic of Mahabad , officially known as Republic of Kurdistan and established in Iranian Kurdistan, was a short-lived, Kurdish government that sought Kurdish autonomy within the limits of the Iranian state. The capital was the city of Mahabad in northwestern Iran...

 in Iran did not long outlast World War II.

From 1922–1924 in Iraq a Kingdom of Kurdistan
Kingdom of Kurdistan
The Kingdom of Kurdistan can refer to two short-lived unrecognized states formed in the 1920s in the geo-cultural region of Kurdistan after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, in the territory officially under the jurisdiction of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia.-Northern Iraq:During the collapse...

 existed. When Ba'athist administrators thwarted Kurdish nationalist ambitions in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, war broke out in the 1960s. In 1970 the Kurds rejected limited territorial self-rule within Iraq, demanding larger areas including the oil-rich Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 region.

During 1920s and 1930s, several large scale Kurdish revolts took place in Kurdistan Following these rebellions, the area of Turkish Kurdistan was put under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 and a large number of the Kurds were displaced. Government also encouraged resettlement of Albanians from Kosovo
Albanians in Kosovo
Albanians are the largest ethnic group in Kosovo . According to the 1991 Serbian census, boycotted by Albanians, there were 1,596,072 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo or 81.6% of population...

 and Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 in the region to change the population makeup. These events and measures led to a long-lasting mutual distrust between Ankara and the Kurds .
During the relatively open government of the 1950s, Kurds gained political office and started working within the framework of the Turkish Republic to further their interests but this move towards integration was halted with the 1960 Turkish coup d'état. The 1970s saw an evolution in Kurdish nationalism as Marxist political thought influenced a new generation of Kurdish nationalists opposed to the local feudal authorities who had been a traditional source of opposition to authority, eventually they would form the militant separatist PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, European Union, NATO and many states that includes United States), or Kurdistan Workers Party
Kurdistan Workers Party
The Kurdistan Workers' Party , commonly known as PKK, also known as KGK and formerly known as KADEK or KONGRA-GEL , is a Kurdish organization which has since 1984 been fighting an armed struggle against the Turkish state for an autonomous Kurdistan and greater cultural and political rights...

 in English.

Iraq



Kurds constitute approximately 17% of Iraq's population. They are the majority in at least three provinces in northern Iraq which are together known as Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

. Kurds also have a presence in Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

, Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, Khanaqin
Khanaqin
Khanaqin is a city in Iraq. It is located at 34.3°N, 45.4°E in the Diyala Governorate, near the Iranian border on a tributary of the Diyala River...

, and Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. Around 300,000 Kurds live in the Iraqi capital Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, 50,000 in the city of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 and around 100,000 elsewhere in southern Iraq.
Kurds led by Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani
Mustafa Barzani also known as Mullah Mustafa was a Kurdish nationalist leader, and the most prominent political figure in the modern Kurdish politics. In 1946 he was chosen as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party to lead the Kurdish revolution against Iraqi regimes...

 were engaged in heavy fighting against successive Iraqi regimes from 1960 to 1975. In March 1970, Iraq announced a peace plan providing for Kurdish autonomy. The plan was to be implemented in four years. However, at the same time, the Iraqi regime started an Arabization program in the oil-rich regions of Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 and Khanaqin
Khanaqin
Khanaqin is a city in Iraq. It is located at 34.3°N, 45.4°E in the Diyala Governorate, near the Iranian border on a tributary of the Diyala River...

. The peace agreement did not last long, and in 1974, the Iraqi government began a new offensive against the Kurds. Moreover in March 1975, Iraq and Iran signed the Algiers Accord, according to which Iran cut supplies to Iraqi Kurds. Iraq started another wave of Arabization by moving Arabs to the oil fields in Kurdistan, particularly those around Kirkuk. Between 1975 and 1978, 200,000 Kurds were deported to other parts of Iraq.

During the Iran-Iraq War
Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

 in the 1980s, the regime implemented anti-Kurdish policies and a de facto civil war broke out. Iraq was widely condemned by the international community, but was never seriously punished for oppressive measures such as the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the wholesale destruction of thousands of villages and the deportation of thousands of Kurds to southern and central Iraq.

The genocidal campaign, conducted between 1986 and 1989 and culminating in 1988, carried out by the Iraqi government against the Kurdish population was called Anfal ("Spoils of War"). The Anfal campaign led to destruction of over two thousand villages and killing of 182,000 Kurdish civilians. The campaign included the use of ground offensives, aerial bombing, systematic destruction of settlements, mass deportation, firing squads, and chemical attacks, including the most infamous attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988
Halabja poison gas attack
The Halabja poison gas attack , also known as Halabja massacre or Bloody Friday, was a genocidal massacre against the Kurdish people that took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War, when chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi government forces in the Kurdish town of...

 that killed 5000 civilians instantly.


After the collapse of the Kurdish uprising in March 1991, Iraqi troops recaptured most of the Kurdish areas and 1.5 million Kurds abandoned their homes and fled to the Turkish and Iranian borders. It is estimated that close to 20,000 Kurds succumbed to death due to exhaustion, lack of food, exposure to cold and disease. On 5 April 1991, UN Security Council passed resolution 688
United Nations Security Council Resolution 688
United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, adopted on April 5, 1991, after receiving letters from the representatives of France, Iran and Turkey and expressing its concern over repression of the Iraqi people, including those in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Council condemned the repression and...

 which condemned the repression of Iraqi Kurdish civilians and demanded that Iraq end its repressive measures and allow immediate access to international humanitarian organizations. This was the first international document (since the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 arbitration of Mosul in 1926) to mention Kurds by name. In mid-April, the Coalition established safe havens inside Iraqi borders and prohibited Iraqi planes from flying north of 36th parallel. In October 1991, Kurdish guerrillas captured Erbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

 and Sulaimaniyah after a series of clashes with Iraqi troops. In late October, Iraqi government retaliated by imposing a food and fuel embargo on the Kurds and stopping to pay civil servants in the Kurdish region. The embargo, however, backfired and Kurds held parliamentary elections in May 1992 and established Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

.

The Kurdish population welcomed the American troops in 2003 by holding celebrations and dancing in the streets. The area controlled by peshmerga
Peshmerga
Peshmerga or Peshmerge is the term used by Kurds to refer to armed Kurdish fighters. Literally meaning "those who face death" the Peshmerga forces of Kurdistan have been in existence since the advent of the Kurdish independence movement in the early 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman...

 was expanded, and Kurds now have effective control in Kirkuk
Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...

 and parts of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

. The authority of the KRG
Kurdistan Regional Government
The Kurdistan Regional Government , , is the official ruling body of the predominantly Kurds-populated Kurdistan Region in Northern Iraq...

 and legality of its laws and regulations were recognized in the articles 113 and 137 of the new Iraqi Constitution ratified in 2005. By the beginning of 2006, the two Kurdish administrations of Erbil and Sulaimaniya were unified.

Turkey




According to CIA Factbook, Kurds formed approximately 18% of the population in Turkey (approximately 14 million) in 2008. This estimate however does not include the Zaza people
Zaza people
The Zazas, Kird, Kirmanc or Dimilis are an ethnic Iranic people whose native language is Zazaki spoken in eastern Anatolia. They primarily live in the eastern Anatolian provinces, such as Adıyaman, Aksaray, Batman, Bingöl, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Erzurum, Erzincan , Gumushane, Kars, Malatya, Mus,...

 which are often considered to be Kurds. Kurdish sources however claim there are as many as 25 milion Kurds in Turkey.
In 1980, Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

 estimated the number of Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

-speakers in Turkey at around five million, when the country's population stood at 44 million. Kurds form the largest minority group in Turkey, and they have posed the most serious and persistent challenge to the official image of a homogeneous society. During the 1930s and 1940s, the government had disguised the presence of the Kurds statistically by categorizing them as Mountain Turks. This classification was changed to the new euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 of Eastern Turk in 1980.

Several large scale Kurdish revolts in 1925, 1930 and 1938 were suppressed by the Turkish government and more than one million Kurds were forcibly relocated between 1925 and 1938. The use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

, and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 until 1946. The Ararat revolt, which reached its apex in 1930, was only suppressed after a massive military campaign including destruction of many villages and their populations. In quelling the revolt, Turkey was assisted by the close cooperation of its neighboring states such as Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. The revolt was organized by a Kurdish party called Khoybun which signed a treaty with the Dashnaksutyun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) in 1927.
By 1970s, Kurdish leftist organizations such as Kurdistan Socialist Party-Turkey (KSP-T) emerged in Turkey which were against violence and supported civil activities and participation in elections. In 1977, Mehdi Zana a supporter of KSP-T won the mayoralty of Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

 in the local elections. At about the same time, generational fissures gave birth to two new organizations: the National Liberation of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Workers Party.
The Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK), also known as KADEK and Kongra-Gel, is considered by the US, the EU, and NATO to be a terrorist organization. It is an ethnic
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

 secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

ist organization using violence for the purpose of achieving its goal of creating an independent Kurdish state in parts of southeastern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, northeastern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, northeastern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and northwestern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

Between 1984 and 1999, the PKK and the Turkish military engaged in open war, and much of the countryside in the southeast was depopulated, as Kurdish civilians moved to local defensible centers such as Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

, Van
Van, Turkey
Van is a city in southeastern Turkey and the seat of the Kurdish-majority Van Province, and is located on the eastern shore of Lake Van. The city's official population in 2010 was 367,419, but many estimates put this as much higher with a 1996 estimate stating 500,000 and former Mayor Burhan...

, and Şırnak
Sirnak
Şırnak is a town in southeastern Turkey. It is the capital of Şırnak Province, a new province that split from the Hakkari province...

, as well as to the cities of western Turkey and even to western Europe. The causes of the depopulation included PKK atrocities against Kurdish clans they could not control, the poverty of the southeast, and the Turkish state's military operations. State actions also included forced inscription, forced evacuation, destruction of villages, severe harassment and extrajudicial executions.
Leyla Zana
Leyla Zana
Leyla Zana , is a Kurdish politician, who was imprisoned for 10 years for her political actions which were claimed to be against the unity of Turkey. When she was a member of pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, she was banned from joining any political party for five years with the Constitutional...

, the first Kurdish female MP from Diyarbakir, caused an uproar in Turkish Parliament after adding the following sentence in Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 to her parliamentary oath during the swearing-in ceremony in 1994:
In March 1994, the Turkish Parliament voted to lift the immunity of Zana and five other Kurdish DEP
Democracy Party
Democracy Party was a pro-Kurdish political party in Turkey. It was founded in May 1993 by several prominent members of the People's Labor Party . The party became divided over the issue of the PKK, two factions - moderate and radical - appeared. Due to the promotion of Kurdish nationalism the...

 members: Hatip Dicle, Ahmet Turk, Sirri Sakik, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak. Zana, Dicle, Sadak and Dogan were sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Supreme Court in October 1995. Zana was awarded the Sakharov Prize
Sakharov Prize
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organisations who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought...

 for human rights by the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 in 1995. She was released in 2004 amid warnings from European institutions that the continued imprisonment of the four Kurdish MPs would affect Turkey's bid to join the EU. The 2009 local elections resulted in 5.7 % for Kurdish political party DTP
Democratic Society Party
The Democratic Society Party was a Kurdish Kurdish nationalist political party in Turkey. The party considered itself social democratic, and had observer status in the Socialist International. It was considered to be the successor of the Democratic People's Party...

.

Officially protected death squads are accused of disappearance of 3,200 Kurds and Assyrians in 1993 and 1994 in the so called mystery killings.
Kurdish politicians, human-rights activists, journalists, teachers and other members of intelligentsia were among the victims. Virtually none of the perpetrators were investigated nor punished. Turkish government also encouraged an Islamic extremist group called Hezbollah to assassinate suspected PKK members and often ordinary Kurds. Azimet Köylüoğlu, the state minister of human rights, revealed the extent of security forces' excesses in autumn 1994:
While acts of terrorism in other regions are done by the PKK; in Tunceli it is state terrorism. In Tunceli, it is the state that is evacuating and burning villages. In the southeast there are two million people left homeless.

Iran




The Kurdish part of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 has been a part of this country from historical times.
The Kurds constitute today approximately 7% of Iran's overall population. The Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

s, Kurds, and speakers of other Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

 languages in Iran are descendants of the Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 tribes that began migrating from Central Asia into what is now Iran in the 2nd millennium BCE. According to some sources, "some Kurds in Iran have resisted the Iranian government's efforts, both before and after the revolution of 1979, to assimilate
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 them into the mainstream of national life and, along with their fellow Kurds in adjacent regions of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, has sought either regional autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 or the outright establishment of an independent
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 Kurdish state". While other sources state that "most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds' language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public." .
In the 17th century, a large number of Kurds were settled by Shah Abbas I to Khorasan in Eastern Iran and resettled in the cities of Northern Khorasan
North Khorasan Province
North Khorasan Province is a province located in northeastern Iran. Bojnord is the centre of the province.Other counties are Shirvan, Esfarayen, Maneh-o-Samalqan, Jajarm, Faroj and Germeh....

 province (Quchan
Quchan
Quchan is a city in and capital of Quchan County, in Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. It is located due south of the border city of Ashgabat. At the 2006 census, its population was 96,953, in 25,066 families.-Population:...

, Bojnurd, Shirvan, DareGaz, and Esfaraeen) to defend Iran's frontier against Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

. Others migrated to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 where they took refuge. The Kurds of Khorasan, numbering around 700,000, still use the Kurmanji
Kurmanji
Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

 Kurdish dialect.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, successive Iranian governments crushed Kurdish revolts led by Kurdish notables such as Shaikh Ubaidullah (against Qajars in 1880) and Simko
Simko Shikak
Simko Shikak also Ismail Agha Shikak ) was a Kurdish chieftain of the Shakak tribe...

 (against Pahlavi
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

s in the 1920s).

In January 1946, during the Soviet occupation of north-western Iran, the Soviet-backed Kurdish Republic of Mahabad
Republic of Mahabad
The Republic of Mahabad , officially known as Republic of Kurdistan and established in Iranian Kurdistan, was a short-lived, Kurdish government that sought Kurdish autonomy within the limits of the Iranian state. The capital was the city of Mahabad in northwestern Iran...

 declared independence in parts of Iranian Kurdistan. Nevertheless, the Soviet forces left Iran in May 1946, and the self-declared republic fell to the Iranian army after only a few months and the president of the republic Qazi Muhammad
Qazi Muhammad
Qazi Muhammad was a nationalist and religious Kurdish leader and the Head of the Republic of Kurdistan, the second modern Kurdish state in the Middle East ....

 was hanged publicly in Mahabad
Mahabad
-Culture:Muhammad Qazi translated more than 70 important literary works into Persian. Other writers and poets have hailed from Mahabad in the 19th and 20th century including Wafaei , Hejar , Hêmin , Abdorrahamn Zabihi and Giw Mukriyani...

. After the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 became more autocratic and suppressed most opposition including Kurdish political groups seeking greater rights for Iranian Kurds. He also prohibited any teaching of the Kurdish language.

After the Iranian revolution, intense fighting occurred between militant Kurdish groups and the Islamic Republic between 1979 and 1982. In August 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 declared a "holy war
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

" against the Kurdish rebels seeking autonomy or independence, and ordered the Armed Forces to move to the Kurdish areas of Iran in order to push the Kurdish rebels out and restore central rule to the country. In September 1979, Revolutionary Guards massacred 56 inhabitants of the village of Qalatan and all of the residents of the village of Qarna. These two Kurdish villages are located close to Naghadeh
Naghadeh
Naqadeh , also Romanized as Solduz and Suldoz) is a city in and the capital of Naqadeh County, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 72,975, in 18,320 families....

 in West Azerbaijan Province. Kurdish opposition described this masscre as the Sabra and Shatila of Kurdistan. A picture of a firing squad of Revolutionary Guards executing Kurdish prisoners around Sanandaj
Sanandaj
Sanandaj , also Romanized as Senneh and Sinneh) is a city in and the capital of Kurdistan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 311,446, in 81,380 families....

 gained international fame and won the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 in 1980. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

 fought to reestablish government control in the Kurdish regions, as a result around ten thousand Kurds were killed. Since 1983, the Iranian government has maintained control over the Iranian Kurdistan. Frequent unrest and the occasional military crackdown have occurred since the 1990s.

In Iran, Kurds express their cultural identity freely, but have no self-government or administration. As in all parts of Iran, membership of a non-governmental political party is punishable by imprisonment or even death. Kurdish human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 activists in Iran have been threatened by Iranian authorities. Following the killing of Kurdish opposition activist Shivan Qaderi
Shivan Qaderi
Shivan Qaderi Shivan Qaderi Shivan Qaderi (a.k.a Sayed Kamal Astam, Sayed Kamal Astom, Shwane Qadri, or Sayed Kamal Asfaram, in Kurdish:(Şivan Qaderî) was an Iranian Kurd who with two other men were shot by Iranian security forces in Mahabad, on July 9, 2005...

 and two other Kurdish men by Iranian security forces in Mahabad
Mahabad
-Culture:Muhammad Qazi translated more than 70 important literary works into Persian. Other writers and poets have hailed from Mahabad in the 19th and 20th century including Wafaei , Hejar , Hêmin , Abdorrahamn Zabihi and Giw Mukriyani...

 on July 9, 2005, six weeks of riots and protests erupted in Kurdish towns and villages throughout eastern Kurdistan. Scores were killed and injured, and an untold number arrested without charge. The Iranian authorities have also shut down several major Kurdish newspapers and arrested editors and reporters. Among those was Roya Toloui
Roya Toloui
Roya Toloui is a prominent Kurdish-Iranian journalist, human rights activist and feminist, currently residing in US. She was born in Baneh in western Iran...

, a Women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 activist and head of the Rasan ("Rising") newspaper in Sanandaj
Sanandaj
Sanandaj , also Romanized as Senneh and Sinneh) is a city in and the capital of Kurdistan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 311,446, in 81,380 families....

, who was alleged to be tortured for two months for involvement in the organization of peaceful protests throughout Kurdistan province. According to an Iran analyst at International Crisis Group
International Crisis Group
The International Crisis Group is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization whose mission is to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts around the world through field-based analyses and high-level advocacy.-History:...

, "Kurds, who live in the some of the least developed parts of Iran, pose the most serious internal problem for Iran to resolve, and given what they see next door--the newfound confidence of Iraqi Kurds--there's concern Iranian Kurds will agitate for greater autonomy."

Syria


Kurds account for 9% of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

's population, a total of around 1.6 million people. This makes them the largest ethnic minority in the country. They are mostly concentrated in the northeast and the north, but there are also significant Kurdish populations in Aleppo and Damascus. Kurds often speak Kurdish in public, unless all those present do not. According to Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated and persecuted. No political parties are allowed for any group, Kurdish or otherwise.

Techniques used to suppress the ethnic identity of Kurds in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 include various bans on the use of the Kurdish language
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

, refusal to register children with Kurdish names, the replacement of Kurdish place names with new names in Arabic, the prohibition of businesses that do not have Arabic names, the prohibition of Kurdish private schools, and the prohibition of books and other materials written in Kurdish. Having been denied the right to Syrian nationality, around 300,000 Kurds have been deprived of any social rights, in violation of international law. As a consequence, these Kurds are in effect trapped within Syria. In March 2011, in part to avoid further demonstrations and unrest from spreading across Syria, the Syrian government promised to tackle the issue and grant Syrian citizenship to approximately 300,000 Kurds who had been previously denied the right.

On March 12, 2004, beginning at a stadium in Qamishli
Qamishli
Qamishli is a city in north eastern Syria on the border with Turkey, adjoining the Turkish city of Nusaybin, and close to Iraq. It is part of the Al-Hasakah Governorate, and is the administrative capital of the Al Qamishli District within the governorate....

 (a largely Kurdish city in northeastern Syria), clashes between Kurds and Syrians broke out and continued over a number of days. At least thirty people were killed and more than 160 injured. The unrest spread to other Kurdish towns along the northern border with Turkey, and then to Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

.

Armenia



Between the 1930s and 1980s, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 was a part of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, within which Kurds, like other ethnic groups, had the status of a protected minority. Armenian Kurds were permitted their own state-sponsored newspaper, radio broadcasts and cultural events. During the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region in the South Caucasus, lying between Lower Karabakh and Zangezur and covering the southeastern range of the Lesser Caucasus mountains...

, many non-Yazidi Kurds were forced to leave their homes since both the Azeri and non-Yazidi Kurds were Muslim.

Azerbaijan



In 1920, two Kurdish-inhabited areas of Jewanshir (capital Kalbajar
Kalbajar
]Kalbajar is a rayon of Azerbaijan. Kalbajar is a Kurdish name meaning Stone City. The entire region is now under the control of Armenian forces who call the western half Karvajar. The eastern half is part of Nagorno-Karabakh, making up part of the province of Martakert...

) and eastern Zangazur (capital Lachin
Lachin
Lachin is a town in Azerbaijan and the regional center of the Lachin Rayon. Since 1992 the area has been under the control of the de facto independent unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which has renamed the town Berdzor . The town and its surrounding region serve as the strategic Lachin...

) were combined to form the Kurdistan Okrug (or "Red Kurdistan"). The period of existence of the Kurdish administrative unit was brief and did not last beyond 1929. Kurds subsequently faced many repressive measures, including deportations, imposed by the Soviet government. As a result of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh War
The Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in the small enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan...

, many Kurdish areas have been destroyed and more than 150,000 Kurds have been deported since 1988 by separatist Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n forces.

Diaspora



According to a report by the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, approximately 1.3 million Kurds live in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. The earliest immigrants were Kurds from Turkey, who settled in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, the Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

 countries, Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 during the 1960s. Successive periods of political and social turmoil in the Middle East during 1980s and 1990s brought new waves of Kurdish refugees, mostly from Iran and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, came to Europe. In recent years, many Kurdish asylum seekers from both Iran and Iraq have settled in the United Kingdom (especially in the town of Dewsbury
Dewsbury
Dewsbury is a minster town in the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. It is to the west of Wakefield, east of Huddersfield and south of Leeds...

 and in some northern areas of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

), which has sometimes caused media controversy over their right to remain. There have been tensions between Kurds and the established Muslim community in Dewsbury, which is home to very traditional mosques such as the Markazi
Markazi mosque
The Markazi Masjid , also known as the Dewsbury Markaz or Dar ul Ulum , is a mosque in the Savile Town area of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Accommodating up to 4,000 worshippers, it is one of the largest mosques in the United Kingdom and among the biggest purpose-built mosques in Europe...

.

There was substantial immigration of Kurds into North America, who are mainly political refugees and immigrants seeking economic opportunity. An estimated 100,000 Kurds are known to live in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, with 50,000 in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and less than 15,000 in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

.

Religion


Sunni, Shia and Sufi


Today, the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, belonging to the Shafi school. Mystical practices and participation in Sufi orders are also widespread among Kurds. There is also a minority of Kurds who are Shia Muslims, primarily living in the Ilam
Ilam Province
Ilam Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the south-west of the country, bordering Iraq. Its provincial center is the city of Ilam. Covering an area of 19,086 square kilometers, the cities of the province are Ilam, Mehran, Dehloran, Dareh Shahr, Sarable, Eyvan, Abdanan and Arkwaz...

 and Kermanshah
Kermanshah
Kermanshah is a city in and the capital of Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 784,602, in 198,117 families.The overwhelming majority of Kermanshahi people are Shi'a Muslims...

 provinces of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Central and south eastern Iraq (Fayli Kurds), and who are Alevi
Alevi
The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

, who mostly live in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Alevi


The Alevi
Alevi
The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

s (usually considered adharents of a branch of Shia Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

) are another religious minority among the Kurds. They are mainly living in Tunceli, Erzincan
Erzincan
-Trivia:Erzincan has the largest man made of Portrait of Atatürk, located north of the city, 176m×43m. It covers 7,500 square meter. Turkish Army made it 1982, in 29 days by 3,000 soldier, 100 tons of black and white paint was used...

, eastern Sivas, northern and southern Malatya
Malatya
Malatya ) is a city in southeastern Turkey and the capital of its eponymous province.-Overview:The city site has been occupied for thousands of years. The Assyrians called the city Meliddu. Following Roman expansion into the east, the city was renamed in Latin as Melitene...

, eastern and northwestern Kahramanmaraş
Kahramanmaras
-Industry:Kahramanmaraş's industry is mainly based on textile and ice cream. Kahramanmaraş is one of the biggest textile industry cities of Turkey. Companies like Kipaş, İskur, Arsan and Bozkurt are one of the richest companies in the city...

, northern Adana
Adana
Adana is a city in southern Turkey and a major agricultural and commercial center. The city is situated on the Seyhan River, 30 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean, in south-central Anatolia...

, western Kayseri
Kayseri
Kayseri is a large and industrialized city in Central Anatolia, Turkey. It is the seat of Kayseri Province. The city of Kayseri, as defined by the boundaries of Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality, is structurally composed of five metropolitan districts, the two core districts of Kocasinan and...

, central and western Adıyaman
Adiyaman
Adıyaman is city in southeastern Turkey, capital of the Adıyaman Province. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Turkey...

, northeastern Gaziantep
Gaziantep
Gaziantep , Ottoman Turkish: Ayintab) previously and still informally called Antep; ʻayn tāb is a city in southeast Turkey and amongst the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The city is located 185 kilometres northeast of Adana and 127 kilometres by road north of Aleppo, Syria...

, northern Elazığ
Elazig
Elâzığ is a city in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey and the seat of Elâzığ Province. It has a population of331,479 according to the 2010 census, and the plain on which the city extends has an altitude of 1067 metres....

, southwestern Erzurum
Erzurum
Erzurum is a city in Turkey. It is the largest city, the capital of Erzurum Province. The city is situated 1757 meters above sea level. Erzurum had a population of 361,235 in the 2000 census. .Erzurum, known as "The Rock" in NATO code, served as NATO's southeastern-most air force post during the...

, northern Bingöl
Bingöl
Bingöl is a city in Eastern Turkey. It is also known as Çabakcur , which means violent water in Armenian. It is surrounded by mountains and a large number of glacier lakes, hence the name . Lately, the town has become a popular tourist destination...

, northwestern Muş
Mus
-Computing:* Mus, a file extension used by Finale * MUS, the internal music format used in Doom -Three-letter acronyms:* Mitsubishi UFJ Securities * MUS, the NATO country code for Mauritius...

 and various other areas in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. The American missionary Trowbridge,
working at Aintab (present Gaziantep
Gaziantep
Gaziantep , Ottoman Turkish: Ayintab) previously and still informally called Antep; ʻayn tāb is a city in southeast Turkey and amongst the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The city is located 185 kilometres northeast of Adana and 127 kilometres by road north of Aleppo, Syria...

) reported that his Alevi acquaintances considered as
their highest spiritual leaders an Ahl-i Haqq sayyid family in the Guran district.

Ahl-i Haqq (Yarsan)


Ahl-i Haqq's basic pillars are summarized this verse of Gurani:

"Yāri Chār Chivan Bāvari Vajā- Pāki o Rāsti o Nisti o Redā"

which translates roughly to:

The Yarsan should strive for these four qualities

purity, rectitude, self-effacement and self-abnegation.

Among its belief include the principle of successive lives of human souls where each soul is allotted a time of 50 thousand years to reach its perfection (the stage of Death within God). If that soul does not reach its perfection, then it is judged by its deed after its 50 thousand years. Another belief of the Yarsan is the and repeated manifestation of the light of the divine essence, the archangels and a class of saviours (Haftwan, Haft Sardar-i Din, Chehel Tan, Haftad o Do Pir..) in human form.

The founder of the religion, Sultan Sahak
Sultan Sahak
Sultan Sahak, or Soltân Sahak was a religious leader who founded the secret and syncretistic religion of the Ahl-e Haqq, also known as the Yârsân. He is considered to be the manifestation of the total divine essence by the Ahl-e Haqq...

appeared among the Guran in mid or late 15th century, and is considered by them as the last great manifestation of the divine essence. Yarsan followers also recognize Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 as one of their divine incarnations, although he is surpassed in importance by Sultan Sahak. The Sultan Sahak is accompanied by seven companions who are the manifestation of the seven primordial archangels (haft tan or heptad).

Binyamin (the pir or spiritual master) is the manifestation of the light Gabriel, while Dawud (the Dalil or Guide) is the manifestation of Mikail or Raphael.

There are strong similarities between religious practices and myths of Ahl-i Haqq and Alevi. According to one Ahl-i Haqq legend, after Sultan Sahak had completed his teachings among the Guran, he reappeared in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 in the form of Haji Bektash. Moreover, the Ahl-i Haqq
consider the Bektashi and Alevi
Alevi
The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

 as kindred communities.

Yazidis


Yazidi
Yazidi
The Yazidi are members of a Kurdish religion with ancient Indo-Iranian roots. They are primarily a Kurdish-speaking people living in the Mosul region of northern Iraq, with additional communities in Transcaucasia, Armenia, Turkey, and Syria in decline since the 1990s – their members emigrating to...

 is a minority religion practiced among Kurdish communities of northern Iraq, Armenia, Georgia and Russia. According to Yazidi beliefs, although God created the world but left it in the care of a heptad of seven holy beings or angels. The most prominent angel is Tawûsê Melek (Malak Taus) or the Peacock Angel. One of their holy texts Kiteba Jelwa(Book of Illumination) is considered to be the words of Malak Taus. Yazidi accounts of creation have much in common with those of the Ahl-e Haqq
Ahl-e Haqq
The Ahl-e Haqq or Yârsân , are members of a religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. The total number of members is estimated at around 1,000,000, primarily found in western Iran and Iraq, mostly ethnic Kurds and Laks, though there are also smaller groups of Luri,...

. Yazidis believe in the periodic reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

 of the seven holy beings in human form. Their holiest shrine and the tomb of faith's founder (Shaikh Adi bin Mosafer), is located in Lalish (36 miles northeast of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

) in northern Iraq.

Judaism and Christianity


Christianity
Kurdish Christians
Kurdish Christians are Kurds who follow Christianity and mostly live in the Kurdistan region. The word is derived from the Greek words and . The Arabic word is also sometimes used. Kurdish Christians should not be confused with other historical Christian communities living in the area such as...

 and Judaism
Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews or Kurdistani Jews are the ancient Eastern Jewish communities, inhabiting the region known as Kurdistan in northern Mesopotamia, roughly covering parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. Their clothing and culture is similar to neighbouring Kurdish Muslims and Christian...

 both are still practised in very small numbers across Kurdistan. There are however some 200,000 Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews
Kurdish Jews or Kurdistani Jews are the ancient Eastern Jewish communities, inhabiting the region known as Kurdistan in northern Mesopotamia, roughly covering parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. Their clothing and culture is similar to neighbouring Kurdish Muslims and Christian...

, residing in Israel. The Jews of Kurdistan migrated to Palestine during the previous centuries but the overwhelming majority of the Kurdish Jews had fled to Israel together with Iraqi Jews in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah
Operation Ezra and Nehemiah
From 1950 to 1952, Operation Ezra and Nehemiah airlifted between 120,000 to 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel via Iran and Cyprus. The massive emigration of Iraqi Jews was among the most climactic events of Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries. By 1968 only 2,000 Jews remained in Iraq...

 during 1950–1952.

For centuries, the Jews had lived as protected subjects
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

 of the tribal chieftains (aghas) and survived in the urban centers and villages in which they lived. According to the new book by Mordechai Zaken, the Kurdistani Jews had managed to survive by supporting their tribal chieftains and village aghas in times of need and through financial contributions, occasional gifts, variety of services as well as taxes and dues in the form of commissions of their commercial and agricultural transactions. In return, the tribal Kurdish aghas would protect their Jewish subjects and grant them patronage in the tribal arena. Indeed some wealthy Jewish merchants and community leaders had to deal at times with aghas who coveted their vineyards or other material goods and satisfy their needs and fulfill their desire. However, in his research, Zaken points out that there was a kind of tribal tradition, passed on from father to son, to keep and protect the Jewish subjects in the village (at times one or two Jewish families in one village) or the tribal arena.

Culture


Kurdish culture is a legacy from the various ancient peoples who shaped modern Kurds and their society, but primarily of three layers of indigenous (Hurrian), ancient Iranian, and Islamic
Cultural Muslim
Cultural Muslims are religiously unobservant, agnostic or atheist individuals who still identify with the Muslim culture due to family background, personal experiences, or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up....

 roots. Kurdish culture is close to that of other Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

. Kurds, for instance, also celebrate Newroz (March 21) as New Year's Day. Kurdish films mainly evoke poverty and the lack of rights of Kurdish people in the region. Yılmaz Güney
Yilmaz Güney
Yılmaz Güney, was a Kurdish film director, scenarist, novelist and actor from Turkey. Many of his works are devoted to the plight of ordinary, working class people in Turkey.- Biography :...

 (Yol
Yol
Yol is a 1982 Yılmaz Güney film. The screenplay was written by Yılmaz Güney, and it was directed by his assistant Şerif Gören, who strictly followed Güney's instructions, as Güney was in prison at the time. Later, when Güney escaped from prison, he took the negatives of the film and edited it in...

 ) and Bahman Qubadi (A Time for Drunken Horses
A Time for Drunken Horses
A Time for Drunken Horses is a 2000 Iranian film directed by Bahman Ghobadi and produced in Iran. It was a co-winner of the Caméra d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 .- Plot :An Iranian Kurdish family is trying to survive after the death of its parents...

, Turtles Can Fly
Turtles Can Fly
Turtles Can Fly Kurdish: Kûsî Jî Dikarin Bifirin) is a 2004 film written and directed by the Kurdish Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, with notable theme music composed by Hossein Alizadeh. It was the first film to be made in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.-Plot:The film is set in a Kurdish...

) are among the better-known Kurdish directors.

In contrast to many neighboring Muslim populations, Kurdish women are not secluded and do not wear the face veil
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

. Kurdish men and women participate in mixed-gender dancing during feasts, weddings and other social celebrations. Major Soane
Soane
Soane or Soanes may refer to:People:*Henry Soane , Virginia colonial politician*John Soane , English architect*Stuart Soane , Scottish footballer*Zebedee Soanes , British radio announcer...

, a British colonial officer during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, noted that this is unusual among Islamic people and pointed out that in this respect Kurdish culture is more akin to that of eastern Europe than to the Middle East.

Music



Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish Classical performers: storytellers
Storytelling
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values...

 (çîrokbêj), minstrel
Minstrel
A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. Frequently they were retained by royalty...

s (stranbêj), and bard
Bard
In medieval Gaelic and British culture a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities.Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland...

s (dengbêj). No specific music was associated with the Kurdish princely courts. Instead, music performed in night gatherings (şevbihêrk) is considered classical. Several musical forms are found in this genre. Many songs are epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 in nature, such as the popular Lawiks, heroic ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes such as Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

. Heyrans are love ballads usually expressing the melancholy of separation and unfulfilled love, one of the first Kurdish female singers to sing heyrans is Chopy Fatah
Chopy Fatah
Chopy Fatah [Kurdish:Çopî Fetah / چۆپی فەتاح] more commonly known as Chopyis a contemporary Kurdish singer. She was born in Kirkuk, Iraq in 1983 and her family emigrated to The Netherlands in 1988...

, while Lawje is a form of religious music and Payizoks are songs performed during the autumn. Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs (dîlok/narînk), erotic poetry, and work song
Work song
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a specific form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task or trade which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song....

s are also popular.


See also

  • Kurdistan
  • Turkish Kurdistan
    Turkish Kurdistan
    Turkish Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the southeastern part of Turkey, which is inhabited predominantly by ethnic Kurds. The area covers between 190,000 to 230,000 km² , or nearly a third of Turkey...

  • Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

  • Iranian Kurdistan
    Iranian Kurdistan
    Iranian Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the parts of Iran inhabited by Kurds and has borders with Iraq and Turkey. It includes Kurdistan Province, Kermanshah Province, Ilam Province and parts of West Azerbaijan province....

  • Syrian Kurdistan
  • Kurds in Lebanon
    Kurds in Lebanon
    The Kurds in Lebanon have not received public or official attention except at times when Kurdish youngsters were needed to fight a certain battle for a certain part, or at times when Kurdish votes were need by a local leader to be successful in an election...

  • Kurds in Turkey
    Kurds in Turkey
    Ethnic Kurds compose a significant portion of the population in Turkey . Unlike the Turks, the Kurds speak an Indo-European language...

  • History of the Kurdish people
  • Kurdistan Okrug
  • List of Kurdish people
  • Kurdish organisations
  • Origins of the Kurds
  • Yazidis
  • Kurdish Jews
    Kurdish Jews
    Kurdish Jews or Kurdistani Jews are the ancient Eastern Jewish communities, inhabiting the region known as Kurdistan in northern Mesopotamia, roughly covering parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and eastern Turkey. Their clothing and culture is similar to neighbouring Kurdish Muslims and Christian...

  • Kurdish Christians
    Kurdish Christians
    Kurdish Christians are Kurds who follow Christianity and mostly live in the Kurdistan region. The word is derived from the Greek words and . The Arabic word is also sometimes used. Kurdish Christians should not be confused with other historical Christian communities living in the area such as...

  • List of Kurdish dynasties and countries
  • Azarbaijani Kurds

Modern Kurdish governments

  • Kingdom of Kurdistan
    Kingdom of Kurdistan
    The Kingdom of Kurdistan can refer to two short-lived unrecognized states formed in the 1920s in the geo-cultural region of Kurdistan after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, in the territory officially under the jurisdiction of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia.-Northern Iraq:During the collapse...

     1920
  • Republic of Ararat
    Republic of Ararat
    The Republic of Ararat or Kurdish Republic of Ararat was a self-proclaimed Kurdish state. It was located in the northeasten part of modern Turkey, being centered on Karaköse Province...

     1927–30
  • Republic of Mahabad
    Republic of Mahabad
    The Republic of Mahabad , officially known as Republic of Kurdistan and established in Iranian Kurdistan, was a short-lived, Kurdish government that sought Kurdish autonomy within the limits of the Iranian state. The capital was the city of Mahabad in northwestern Iran...

     1946
  • Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
    Iraqi Kurdistan
    Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

     (1991 to date)

External links



The Kurdish Issue in Turkey