70 percent of Kurdish youth face discrimination in Turkey, poll reveals

A survey carried out by Rawest Research revealed that some 70 percent of Kurdish youth in Turkey face discrimination, be it rarely or frequently. The poll also showed that the Kurdish youth is not content with living in the country due to the increasing discrimination they face.

A Kurdish woman is seen attending Newroz celebrations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in this file photo.

Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

Some 70 percent of the Kurdish youth face discrimination in Turkey, be it rarely or frequently, a poll carried out by Rawest Research has revealed. 

The company talked to over 1,500 individuals across Turkey for its survey that looked into the lives of young Kurds.

According to Rawest, seven out of 10 participants said that they are rarely or frequently subject to discrimination, while only 13 percent said that they don't see such treatment. 

"This affects their relationships with their romantic partners or friends and triggers discrimination. Nearly half of the Kurdish youth [44 percent] don't want a Turkish boyfriend/girlfriend," Reha Ruhavioğlu from Rawest told Duvar. 

"This statistic is attention grabbing since it shows how discrimination builds walls between the Kurds and Turks even though Kurds plan to live in Turkey and build a future in western provinces. It also shows that the Kurds, especially the Kurdish youth, have a Kurdish habitat that they're able to live in in the country's west and that having such habitat enables further distancing," he said. 

According to the research, the Kurdish youth thinks that there is a bias against the Kurds in the west and that is why they are subject to discrimination. 

"They link this discrimination to Turkish TV and the fact that the political process in the past couple of years sends negative messages regarding Kurdishness. Social media is also accepted as a platform that discrimination manifests itself openly," Ruhavioğlu said. 

The survey showed that 34 percent of the Kurdish youth are in working life, 24 percent are working as unskilled laborers and the rest is unemployed. Ruhavioğlu said that employment statistics are lower when compared to Turks. 

"When it comes to gender distribution, women are seen to be a bit more disadvantaged," he said. 

Four out of five of every young Kurd that votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) stress their identity as a Muslim, while the ratio is down to around 33 percent among voters of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Two thirds of HDP voters emphasize their Kurdish identity, whereas its around 33 percent among AKP voters. 

Another significant outcome of the survey concerns the Kurdish youth's satisfaction with living in Turkey. 

"The fact that the Kurdish youth are less content with their lives and with living in Turkey when compared to their Turkish peers is something to be thought about. Those who live in the west are a bit more pessimistic due to the discrimination they face," Ruhavioğlu said. 

Restrictions on their mother tongue

The Kurdish youth cited discrimination and restrictions on speaking their mother tongue as their biggest problems. 

"This has a direct relationship with identity issues. It pushes the young Kurds who seek to keep their mother tongue alive towards their Kurdish identity. Discrimination leads to holding on to the Kurdish language and identity," Ruhavioğlu said, adding that the Kurds in the western provinces are forgetting their mother tongues. 

When it comes to religion, the Kurdish youth is getting away from Islam since they think that the AKP represents it. 

"Secondly, they distance themselves from religion because of the attacks of ISIS and other Islamic armed organizations on Kobane," Ruhavioğlu said, referring to jihadists' attacks on mainly Kurdish areas in northern Syria. 

"Secularization is increasing," he said. 

Ruhavioğlu noted that the arguments on the Kurdish youth becoming more radicalized is wrong. 

"They are distant towards radicalization. One of the main reasons behind it is the expansion of the civil political sphere with Selahattin Demirtaş," he said, referring to the former HDP co-chair who has been imprisoned since Nov. 4, 2016.