Majority of Kurds discriminated against because of their identity in Turkey: Research

In a recent survey by the newly founded “Kurdish Barometer,” nearly 60 percent of the respondents living in Turkey stated that they were discriminated against because of their Kurdish identity. Accordingly, Kurds also still believe that education in their first language is vital for them.

Duvar English

Almost 60 percent of Kurds living in Turkey think that they are discriminated against because of their Kurdish identity, a fresh field survey carried out by the newly founded “Kurdish Barometer” showed.

1492 people were surveyed in 20 provinces within the scope of “Kurdish Barometer” regarding identity, Kurdish issue and demands, discrimination practices and feelings, politics, first language, and popular culture.

When asked “What do you think should be the language of education in schools for Kurmanji/Zazaki speakers whose native language is not Turkish?,” 44.1 percent of the respondents said they supported bilingual education, whereas 27 percent said “the language of education should be Turkish, but the native language should be taught separately at school.”

19.2 percent of the respondents said there is no need for another language of education rather than Turkish at all, whereas nine percent said it should only be the native language. 

51.5 percent of the respondents said “there is a Kurdish problem/issue,” whereas 16.3 percent said “there is no Kurdish problem, but Kurds have problems.” 15 percent said there is no Kurdish issue at all.

As for the source of the Kurdish issue, 51.6 percent of the respondents said “Kurdish identity is not recognized,” 49.6 percent said “The state discriminates against Kurds,” 22 percent said “Kurds want to establish a separate state,” and 18 percent said, “The economic underdevelopment of the Kurdish provinces.”

48 percent admitted that Turks and Kurds are not equal on behalf of the state.

Accordingly, the rate of embracing the Kurdish identity was 67.4 percent, which was higher than average among young people, students, traders and high-income groups.

Academician Uğraş Ulaş Tolunay from the Kurdish Studies Center evaluated the findings and said Kurdish voters were stuck between two poles back in 2013, the AKP and the Kurdish movement.

“We see that this is changing. More intermediate categories are formed between these poles, behaviors such as not going to the polls (are emerging). We also see that the Kurds are moving away from politics compared to 5-10 years ago. In our past observations, they were more self-confident, looked at the future and politics with more hope. Today, we see that they are more hopeless, less self-confident and have lost interest in politics, including Kurdish politics. We also see that its civil society is less active than in the past,” Tolunay added.

Professor Mesut Yemen said, “There seems to be a pessimism among a significant portion of the Kurds, not about themselves as a nation, but perhaps about Turkey.”

Between 2013 and 2015, the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) maintained a fragile ceasefire in a move to resolve the Kurdish issue. Through the peace process, government and intelligence officials would meet with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on the İmralı Island, with Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers acting as mediators and go-betweens, conveying messages to the PKK’s military leadership in Qandil Mountains. However, after two years, the peace process fell apart and the conflict resumed.