On the ‘Democratic Civilisation’
A Critical Reading of Abdullah Ocalan’s Work
By Ismet Chériff Vanly
Lausanne , 30 March 2004
a) Abdullah Ocalan , PKK , and Kurdistan National Congress
b) The National Congress cannot be a PKK’s façade for Ocalan’s ideas
1) A general presentation of Ocalan’s book
2) Criteria for criticism of the book
3) Why did Ocalan not join the guerrilla ?
4) A book written for the good understanding of Turkey
5) A federalist solution acceptable for the Kurds in Iran and Iraq
6) No autonomy,nothing but individual rights for the Kurds in Turkey:
7) Misunderstanding by Ocalan as to language and national issues in some countries
8) Ocalan, Kemalism and Kurdistan
9) A federation of Mideastern states ?
10) Undue hopes put in the European Union
11) Undue hopes put in the European Court of Human Rights
12) To offend Kurdish history and other political parties
13) Ocalan’s party : a democratic or pyramidal structure ?
14) On Ocalan’s strategy of legitimate self-
15) On PKK/KGK’s “national leader”, cult of Ocalan, and other topics
16) A Leader in a prophet cloth, in a mission for humanity good
17) The modern type of states :
18) About self-
19) Turkey’s Turks and Kurds are Eastern peoples, not European
20) The Kurds , a flock of sheep or an adult people ?
21) An unjust peace means injustice and subjection
22) A strategy of self-
23) Side remarks about Ocalan’s
24) Conclusion ?
25) Appendice : Estimate of Kurdistan area and Kurdish population (in 2000)
a) Abdullah Ocalan , PKK , and Kurdistan National Congress
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK after the Kurdish initials) was founded in May 1999 , in Amsterdam, in difficult circumstances , when Abdullah Ocalan , leader of PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), had been asked to leave Syria under Turkish menace , arrested and delivered over to Turkey, thanks to an international conspiracy . He had the possibility to join the guerrilla of his party fighting in Kurdistan (ARGK= People’s Liberation Army of Kurdistan), but he preferred to seek refuge in Europe, that he did not obtain. Mr. Ocalan was elected Honorary President of KNK when he was already prisoner of the Turkish state , while I have had the honour to be elected its President , from the beginning until now.
We owe Abdullah Ocalan to have created the PKK and educated its members in the spirit of patriotism, discipline , and sacrifice ; to have transformed the leftist utopia of the Kurdish (and some Turkish) youth in Turkey , about an “international proletarian revolution” , into the liberation of Kurdistan, on one hand, and the democratisation of Turkey, on the other hand ; to have proclaimed the armed struggle for these aims against the racist and corrupt, military and political , establishment of this repressive and ultra-
Before the Turkish State Security Court , at Imrali , Mr. Ocalan reduced his national demands for the resolution of the Kurdish question to nothing, next to zero , asking for the transformation of Turkey into a
According to KNK’s Charter , the Kurdish people are one people , and Kurdistan, their homeland, is one homeland , in spite of its partition between four repressive nation-
KNK in fact has had difficulties , was far from being that paramount national congress, because of the different political situation prevailing in each part of Kurdistan and , whence, the divergent interest of the political parties struggling at home , with phases of tension or armed fighting between them. The election of brother Abdullah Ocalan as Honorary President of KNK was a political mistake , since it was perceived by the other Kurdish parties as if the Congress had sided with PKK against them.
Yet the KNK’s different organs ( Executive Council, Commissions , a Bureau for each part of Kurdistan, Offices in several Western capitals, a Consultative Assembly=
As independent President of KNK belonging to no party, I have made over five years no distinction between the four parts of Kurdistan , or between the parties struggling at home. I criticised publicly the reduction of the Kurdish national demands in Turkey into the practice of individual freedoms within a ‘Democratic Republic’ , as this was presented by Abdullah Ocalan in his defence before the Turkish court. I did not follow the directives by brother Abdullah Ocalan to the PKK , but the principles enshrined in the KNK’s Charter. As a matter of fact, in all my activity in the name of KNK , my correspondence to the European institutions, the United Nations, and to national states , I promoted a democratic and federalist solution to the Kurdish question within each of the states dividing Kurdistan . For a later stage , when the Kurds will have obtained not only a theoretical recognition of their national identity, but a true federalist solution within these states , or at least an autonomy status in a geographical area , then the unification of the four parts of the Kurdish homeland into one federal state of Kurdistan , can be envisaged , while keeping at the same time the federalist ties between the Kurds and the neighbouring peoples . In other words, the ultimate objective in a farther future is to work for a federal or confederal union between the nations of the area , somehow as Europe is trying to do nowadays. This schema , a global perception of the future, has been mine over nearly five decades , and it is fully conform to the KNK’s aims. Federalism is one of the options furthered by the right of self-
I should add that my colleagues in KNK who are members or close partisans of PKK/KADEK did not try to contest my ideas as expressed in the name of KNK. On the contrary , they were helpful. The letters, memorandums , speeches , articles where I expressed the federalist solution as President of KNK, were published in the KNK’s magazines and circulated by its organs . I much appreciate this spirit of camaraderie.
The political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan have adopted the federalist solution since 1992 and, happily enough – not only for them, but for all the Kurds -
On the demand of its president, Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, PKK changed its name into KADEK (Kurdish initials for : Congress For Liberty and Democracy in Kurdistan) , at its 8th congress , held in the Qandil mountain , in April 2002 . The Qandil mountain , close to the Iranian border , with tens of inhabited villages, was unfortunately seized by force by the PKK over Jalal Talabani’s PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) . In the spring 2003 , Mr. Ocalan asked KADEK to change again, in order to espouse more clearly his concept for the solution of the Kurdish question , as he had lengthily explained it in a book on the Democratic Civilisation , written in jail, at Imrali, in the spring and summer 2001. We shall have below a reading of this work . The aim of this paper is a critical reading of Ocalan’s book .
On 7 August 2003 , the Qandil-
Yet KADEK had to comply more clearly with Abdullah Ocalan’s directives, to change again its name , to repeat what he says in the “Book” about a
KNK’s members can be either political parties or independent persons , but all are bound by its Charter . According to the Charter , the Kurdistan National Congress must be a
Beyond this internal problem about the nature and role of KNK , its relationship with Kurdish political parties , the real question is the future of the Kurdish national movement , and true democracy in the area. I do not agree with the ideas of brother Abdullah Ocalan , especially about the “solution” he wants to impose for the Kurdish question in Turkey . He says “Turkey is the common mother-
Whence the following critical reading , an appraisal , of his work. This appraisal is written for the knowledge of all , the colleagues members of KNK , the partisans of Mr. Ocalan , the public opinion in Kurdistan , the Kurdish people and their friends . The partisans of Abdullah Ocalan within KNK have been my brothers and sisters , my colleagues over five years . The PKK guerrilla in the mountains are my brothers and sisters ; I have for them high esteem , and much concern for their future . My guide in the following critical reading of Mr. Ocalan’s work is the higher interest of the Kurdish people, true democracy in the area and, if possible , peace and union , with real collective equality , between the Kurdish nation and the neighbouring nations. The following should therefore be understood as a democratic debate between men and women who may have different opinions , but believe in common basic values, and are doomed to have a common national future .
A critical reading of a work does not mean to be against, but rather appraisal, positive or negative. It is supposed to be neutral , if not objective . It can hardly be objective , it is necessarily subjective , but it should be fair , honest on the intellectual ground .
Let me begin by presenting some positive aspects . Abdullah Ocalan is one of the rare intellectuals among the leaders of Kurdish political parties . He has an extensive background of Turkish and oriental culture . He should have read a lot of Turkish authors, and Turkish translation from foreign works written in Western languages . He is a clever man , a subtle spirit , and has an intimate knowledge of the Kurdish mentality, that he would use for political purpose . He does not have a high opinion of the “ignorant” Kurdish people “who would kill each other for a hen” ; he assumes the role of a severe educator to redress the Kurds , that of a rigid father who would not tolerate any deviation in the family from the rules he himself has decided or in which he believes . He wants them to be better, and modern. He might have himself some departure from those rules , given the personal upper rank where he established himself and which is recognised by his followers . He is perhaps the sole Kurdish party leader worrying about the fate of all of the Kurds, as inhabited by a mission for the search of a global solution to the question, but how, and for what a future, that is another matter , we shall see it . He would seem to have a propensity for mysticism , but he has a too pragmatic and materialist spirit to be a mystic. Knowing the traditional pious spirit of the simple Kurdish masses, the veneration they have for holy men , he does compare himself , with a subtle art of wording , with Abraham, Jesus , Muhammad and other prophets , so that he may appear in the position of a man invested with a somehow supernatural , a divine mission to save the people from oppression. The good people cannot fail to be impressed. He knows how to say things with a calculated nicety. I know even a few educated Kurds who did the same comparison between him and prophets, and would take him for a saviour. I do not know if they have changed opinion since . The average Kurd cannot fail to fell in admiration before a leader endowed with such a ‘science’ of history and such a ‘metaphysical’ power.
Abdullah Ocalan is indeed fond of history , but he is not a historian (and does not pretend it) ; he ignores any methodology in the matter and his work is void of reference . It is a personal perception of the past . The book is wearisome to read and difficult, if not impossible, to present because of repetitions, constant comings and goings between the Kurds of today , his personal case, his imprisonment at Imrali , and the most ancient times – prehistory, including a neolithic society present everywhere, to which we do owe the beginning of the agricultural technology , that he identifies with the ancient Kurds and makes poetically an ideal for peace and harmony, beyond what is established by science .
Mr. Ocalan’s understanding of history is based on the ideas of Karl Marx and Engels. He denounces what he calls “the established socialism” , meaning the USSR , but remains prisoner of the Marxist thought about dialectic and historic materialism, and the struggle between social classes. However , he presents this work and the solutions he advocates for the Kurdish question as the sole “scientific” (all what was written before him being good to be thrown away) , somehow as Marxism was said to be “the scientific socialism”. The aim is a “scientific democracy”, based on individual human rights , not only for the Kurds, Turkey and the Middle East , but for all humanity. Is he dreaming in his cell at Imrali ? This is dramatic .
Mr. Ocalan wrote this work in Turkish , at the prison of Imrali , from 11 April 2001 to 28 August 2001. It was published in Turkish and a few other languages, thanks to PKK . I have the Arabic edition, entitled – as the other editions -
Volume I of the Arabic edition is 493 pages, and volume 2 , 387 pages. I read the preface of volume 1 and practically all of the second volume . Between the two , and in each volume, there is plenty of repetition. We find in the Arabic edition grammatical mistakes (this is not important) , and a few sentences are rather ambivalent as to the meaning.
The defence by Abdullah Ocalan before the Turkish State Security Court, which, sitting exceptionally at the Imrali island (in the sea of Marmara , not far from Istanbul) , condemned him to a death sentence, on 29 June 1999, was also published thanks to PKK , in Turkish, and in some other languages, under the title ‘Declaration on the Democratic Solution of the Kurdish Question’ . I read its introduction, in the English edition, and hardly leafed through the rest. Many of the themes are common to both publications, there is again some repetition.
For the trial of the illustrious prisoner of the Turkish Republic, the Imrali island was evacuated of its inhabitants, who were replaced by an army of guardians to watch and keep him . He is the sole prisoner in the island, but was given a tiny cell to live, no doubt stuffed with hidden cameras and microphones to spy him. The maritime air of Imrali is harmful to his health ; he suffers from respiration problems , and probably more from loneliness, moral but not physical cruelty. The only link between him and the outside world is through his lawyers , whose visits are limited by the state.
Mr. Ocalan was apparently not satisfied with his own defence before the Turkish Court at Imrali . His European lawyers lodged an appeal against the sentence passed by the latter Court at the European Court of Human Rights . The case Ocalan v. Turkey is still pending before the Court at Strasbourg. Mr. Ocalan also lodged complaint at Strasbourg against Italy, Russia and Greece for not having granted him asylum , or for having betrayed him and let him be captured . The Italian Appeal Court said Italy was wrong in not granting him asylum, but that was said when Mr. Ocalan had been kidnapped . It was too late .
It is curious that Abdullah Ocalan wrote his work on the Democratic Civilisation as his defence to be presented by his lawyers to the European Court of Human Right. He says in chapter 6 of the book , under subtitle 4 entitled “The PKK, its birth, its evolution and future” , that he wrote the book as his “defence before the European Court of Human Rights”, and that volume 2 of the work, beside a general presentation of the Kurdish question, includes a “scientific and juridical analysis” of his own case . Does he really think the European judges have the time to read about 900 pages making a muddle of prehistoric and historic times , of themes pertaining to the Kurdish, Turkish and Mid-
Owing to the large number of recurrent themes constantly repeated in Ocalan’s work
in different ways , not without contradiction in his own ideas , we have to make
a choice – not necessarily by order of importance -
Let me repeat that my criticism changes nothing as to the historical role performed in my opinion by Abdullah Ocalan in creating, educating and commanding the PKK, a struggle resulting in a rebirth of the Kurdish people in Turkey, for the liberation of Kurdistan , for democracy , for the rights of women, against fascism and racism in this Turkish republic pretending itself to be democratic. Abdullah Ocalan is no doubt an exceptional person to have achieved this . He changed after his arrest , when he had become prisoner of the Turkish state. He did not give up ; he should have consecrated a tremendous energy to write this work, suffering alone in his cell , but what for ? During the years of armed fighting , he was the enemy number one of racist Turkey, the hero of most of the Kurdish people in Turkey , a hero and a guide in the eyes of some idealist youth across Kurdistan . Since his abduction, he became a problem for Turkey, a problem for Europe, a problem and a burden for his party and ‘his people’ (he says sometimes “my people”).
This does not mean indifference , nor hostility toward Abdullah Ocalan and his fate. But the higher interest of the Kurdish people requires the criticism below . The future of a nation is more important than the case of a leader . My duty is to try to open the eyes of the Kurdish people , and why not possibly to make the Turks understand the mistake of their rulers ? I wish the Kurds could do something for the safety of Abdullah Ocalan , and if possible for his liberty. I wish success for his followers, in as much as this can be done on the basis of real – and not a verbal and void – democracy , in the interest of this nation .
I am obliged to translate from Arabic the themes below , chosen according to the criteria mentioned above, that is among those which I see most open to criticism . I shall do it the most faithfully to Mr. Ocalan’s ideas, often by literal quotations , and as concisely as it may be possible, owing to time and space limitation. For reference , owing to the variety of editions , I would give the numeration of chapters, titles or perhaps subtitles. The themes presented will be appraised and commented one by one .
3) Why did Ocalan not join the guerrilla ?
This is not one of Mr. Ocalan’s themes , but a question . If he had joined the guerrilla when he was obliged to leave the comfortable space he was given amid the orchards surrounding Damascus , he would have spared himself the humiliation he was to know in Europe, the martyrdom of being the prisoner of the Turkish Republic, the desperate search of a “solution”, be it the most exceedingly “moderate”, consisting in fact of the negation of Kurdistan as the homeland of the Kurdish nation, just what the ultra-
4) A book written for the good understanding of Turkey
The themes the most open to criticism in Ocalan’s work are those in which he ignores completely the right of self-
5) A federalist solution acceptable for the Kurds in Iran and Iraq
The attitude of Abdullah Ocalan , and consequently of his followers, toward the Kurdish political parties in the other parts of Kurdistan , is generally a condescending and rather contemptuous attitude , not exempt of jealousy toward the Iraqi Kurds . This is particularly true regarding the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) of Messud Barzani and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) of Jalal Talabani .
This condescension may be explained by different reasons . Firsty , Turkish Kurdistan is the largest part of the Kurdish homeland , making alone a good half of the Kurdish nation as to the area and population . Turkish Kurdistan is somehow the elder brother , to whom precedence or preeminence is due . Secondly , the PKK , or its successor , formerly Marxist-
In chapter 6 of the book
About the Kurdish question in Iran : After reference to ancient Media and Persia
, Ocalan remarks correctly that , contrary to the Turkish Republic , the Iranian
state , according to a long tradition , has never practised a policy of denial as
to the existence of different peoples and nationalities within its borders . Mr.
Ocalan knows about the existence of an Iranian province (ostan in Persian) officially
called Kurdistan . An ostan in the Iranian imperial tradition correspond to Land
in Germany , or state in the USA, whence the name of countries such as Pak-
The ostan of Kurdistan , or rather Kordestan , according to the Persian phonetic , with the city of Sanendaj as capital , was originally created by the Saljukid sultan Sinjar of Iran , in the 12th century . It was to be partitioned more than once across centuries , the last time under shah Riza Pahlavi , in the early 1920s . Eastern or Iranian Kurdistan, , as the geographically continued homeland of the Kurds in Iran , schematically corresponding to a large part of ancient Media , does not include the sole ostan presently called Kordestan , but four other , more exactly the following provinces geographically continued in the Zagros ridges , from north to south : Western-
Ocalan blames late Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou , secretary-
About the Kurdish question in Iraq : Mr. Ocalan says the KDP of late Mustafa Barzani was a “feudal” and “tribal” party, adept of a “primitive nationalism” . He adds that since the creation of PUK , in 1975 , by Jalal Talabani , as a separate party from KDP , and a challenge to it , “the Kurdish movement in Iraq has been more and more used as an instrument in the hands of foreigners….” .
Ocalan notes that “the Kurds in Iraq began , after 1990 , a period of federalism , under the protection of the USA” , but they were to be separated into two administrations , one governed by KDP, and the other by PUK , “under Turkish watch”. He blames both parties “to have been used , at that period , against the PKK, on the political, military, and diplomatic ground” .
Ocalan is not against a federalist solution to the Kurdish question in Iraqi Kurdistan , but he blames the two main Kurdish parties “not to have achieved the establishment of a true federate government, by democratic means, because of the selfish and materialist interests of their respective presidential house” .
Yet he suggests as an alternative , a possible “solution” consisting of “a democratic
Iraq , together with the regime of Saddam Hussein” . That is indeed a curious , and
astonishing suggestion . How could a dictatorial regime , perpetrator of genocide
against the Kurds and the Shi’a Arabs , be their partner for building up of a democratic
Iraq ? Ocalan wrote this in the summer 2001 , when Saddam Hussein was still on his
throne . He does not mention that the resolution about a federate state of Iraqi
Kurdistan , within a federal , democratic, and post-
Before putting an end to the paragraph on Iraqi Kurdistan, Ocalan resumes again the topic of federalism , and insists that the three parties, KDP , PUK, and PKK , should unite their forces to form together a Kurdish federate government in the area . He does not consider PKK as a non-
Conclusion ? It would be this : “yes for a federalist solution to the Kurdish question in Iraqi Kurdistan – provided the PKK, or its successor, be one of the founding parties in this nation-
Other questions could be put . I do not say KDP, PUK and other Iraqi Kurdish parties, who have been fighting the Iraqi government for the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan since 1945 , (from 1975 for PUK) , are free from any criticism . But how could such a union as suggested by Ocalan could be attained when he and many of his unconditional followers had so aggressively addressed the leaders of the Iraqi Kurds , when so much blood had been shed between them ? Do the Iraqi Kurds have interest to get united with Ocalan’s partisans when they are still placed under the US military protection , while the PKK , or its successor , is still said “terrorist” by the USA ? Objectively speaking , the PKK was born in Turkish Kurdistan ; they entered into Iraqi Kurdistan coming from Turkey ; they publish their papers first in Turkish , which has become as their “official language” , while Turkish is a foreign language , not understandable , and is unwelcome by the other Kurds – unless it is spoken by the Turcomans of Iraqi Kurdistan . If the general strategy of the Kurdish movement is to seek solution within the framework of the existing states dividing Kurdistan , then it is primarily up the Kurds in each of these states to say what they want for themselves and to struggle for . Yet it is imperative that the Kurds should forget the past , and unite their forces . On the political field, everything may happen .
About the Kurdish question in Syria -
Syrian Kurdistan is actually constituted of three regions with a Kurdish majority in northern Syria , close to the border of Turkey , which are the northern half of the province of Jazira , on the east , the district of Ain-
Abdullah Ocalan , who is native of a village to the north of the city of Urfa (Edessa in the past,
To speak more seriously , and come back to reality , the Kurds are an oppressed people in Syria, especially in Jazira . They are not recognised as a non-
Unfortunately , since the fall of Saddam Hussein and his Baath regime , thanks to the US-
6) No autonomy,nothing but individual rights for the Kurds in Turkey:
In chapter 6 , subtitle “Towards the Resolution of the Kurdish Question”, speaking about the Kurdish question in Turkey, Abdullah Ocalan says : “To consider the Kurds as Turks by force will not mean grandeur for the Turkish nation ; but to consider them as a social phenomenon belonging to the Turkish nation (…), to the state of Turkey , will be in its interest (…). So is the situation in America, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Russia, where there is one American people, one Belgian, Spanish or Russian people , in spite of the presence of a variety of nationalities and languages (…) . In Turkey there should be one nationality , the nationality of Turkey.” (He avoids cunningly speaking here of a Turkish nationality : his wording is willingly ambivalent .)
He continues in the same chapter : “In the democratic solution , based on the observance of modern human rights , it is no question of changing state borders, no question of recognising an autonomy to any group , or any particular status in matter of economics, society , or culture …” .
In the same chapter , and the same subtitle , he writes : “Experience shows the Kurdish question cannot be resolved with the spirit of bourgeois nationalism or by a feudal autonomy (.…) . Besides, the neighbouring states would not allow such a solution (…) . We should therefore seek with insistence and perseverance a reasonable and realistic solution (…) . If you seek autonomy , independence and self-
He says again : “Some Kurdish nationalist centres will dislike such a modest solution (…) ; they want a Kurdish autonomy because of their class interests , but they lack support among the Kurdish people.”
Finally Abdullah Ocalan explains how his ‘modern and scientific’ solution will be beneficial to Turkey : “This modest solution will reinforce the power and the unity of Turkey (…) , will consolidate its relations with many other states , to begin by its accession to the European Union.”
Comment on 6) and further themes from Ocalan :
Here we are . Mr. Ocalan wrote the book not exactly for the resolution of the Kurdish question, but with the hope to help Turkey becoming member of the European Union , by inciting Ankara to comply with the criteria of Copenhagen, be it formally , with no effect, if by bits. The Kurds , in such a case, could possibly obtain a few bits of their legitimate rights , the liberty , for instance, for individuals and civil society associations to open classes teaching in Kurdish – if the goodwill of the Turkish bureaucracy would allow it . The accession of Turkey to the membership of the European Union , as we shall see , is clearly mentioned in the programme of KGK.
Besides, in the preface to volume I on the
Abdullah Ocalan is “open” to discuss with Turkey about an “amiable solution” to the Kurdish question in which there will be no Kurdistan , no Kurdish autonomy, no federalism , no right of self-
In such a Turkey having supposedly become democratic, thanks to a formal compliance with the criteria of Copenhagen – but not necessarily applied, if not by bits -
In the same introduction to chapter 6 , he wrote : “The Kurds know difficulties to become a national state (…) , but we have an alternative … , this alternative is the way of a democratic solution, which is better ; the democratic solution allows people belonging to a national group to live freely within a democratic state, without needing to become a national state…”
Then he adds : “Many national states get united to form together a federation of states . The USA itself, the world’s greatest power, is a federation ; the national states in Europe have recently begun the process to get united within a European federation . This world’s trend toward federalism between states will further the possibility to resolve the Kurdish question on the basis of a democratic unity between the Kurds and the state within which they live (…) . The Kurds could , if they adopt a sound organisation of their civil society , so find the way to the resolution of their question by peaceful means, without recourse to violence or separatism.”
Abdullah Ocalan seeks to let the Kurds in Turkey believe they could find a solution to their national question thanks to the accession of Turkey to the membership of the European Union, without any prior solution to the question in Turkey itself , autonomy , or federalism . He has no plan, no project for the Kurds in Turkey , beside individual rights as Turkish citizens , and a flight into Europe . I have always been advocating the contrary : without a prior solution to the Kurdish question within the states dividing Kurdistan , there can be no solution within a federation of these states . Furthermore , Ocalan does not mean a federation between the states dividing Kurdistan , bet between Turkey and Europe. He is dreaming.
To leave no doubt as to the kind of ‘democratic unity’ between the Kurds and the state within which they live , Ocalan writes , in the same introduction (its subtitle 8) to chapter 6 : “The Kurds who live under the roof of a state (…) have this state as homeland , even if it has banned their language (…) . The idea of
This is addressed to the good understanding of Turkey , since it is the sole state that “banned the Kurdish language” . Nevertheless , this Turkey is “the common homeland” of the Kurds , the Turks and all the other groups living under its roof. This means , of course , the negation o f a Kurdish homeland . Kurdistan is not the homeland of the Kurds , it is only “the narrow and tribal understanding of homeland” . The homeland is Turkey . To make it clear , Ocalan gives the example of a Kurd from Iran , who could say : “I am Iranian and a Kurd at the same time.” That would be accepted , and even welcome everywhere in Iran . Besides , Kurdish belongs to the Iranic branch of the Indo-
The very name of
I am sorry that Abdullah Ocalan wrote all that . It is hardly believable he wrote it in full liberty and in the possession of all of his intellectual gift . Was he submitted to a any special “therapy” ? He is anyway the prisoner of the Turks .
During decades in the history of the Turkish Republic, because of the state terror policy of colonisation , deportation, and forced assimilation in Kurdistan , especially in the peripheral areas , the Kurds by millions became ashamed of being Kurds, hid their origin , abandoned their language for Turkish, and sought assimilation . That is a classical phenomenon of colonisation. To be a Kurd, was not only anticonstitutional and sanctioned by the penal law , but looked at , in the eyes of the Turkish establishment , with contempt as the mark of an underdeveloped society , with no culture, as a backward
The British academic David Crystal , a known specialist in matter of languages , presents his book entitled ‘Language Death’ (Cambridge, 2002), in these terms : “The rapid endangerment and death of many minority languages across the world is a matter of widespread concern, among all concerned with issues of cultural identity in an increasingly globalized culture”. The author says that “only 600 of the 6000 or so languages in the world are safe from the threat of extinction”.
The Kurdish language is endangered in Turkey in this sense , because of the Turkish state policy, but it is not endangered in Iranian or Iraqi Kurdistan , not in the Kurdish-
The Kurdish language can be preserved from fading away in Turkey only if it is made by law and Constitution an official and compulsory language in a well defined geographical area , within the state territory , and this area can be only geographical Kurdistan . This aim cannot be realised through individual initiatives or civil society groups (private institutes, foundations, clubs , etc). Education in Kurdish , in state and private institutions, should further the same opportunities as Turkish for the future of the new generation . The Kurds in Turkey number more than 21 millions, nearly one third of the total population . In Turkish Kurdistan, an area of about 220’000 sq, km, they number more than 13 millions, representing about 85 % of the regional population. This area is much larger than England (131'760 sq.km) , within the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom is a democratic state ; it recognises Scotland as a well-
If the Kurds of Turkey do not enjoy a federate status similar to that of the Flemish and the Walloon nationalities in Belgium , or at least an autonomy status similar to that of the Basque and the Catalan nationalities in Spain, there cannot be a solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey. This is what I have beenrepeating for so long , and wrote to the Presidential Council of PKK and to the European institutions.
7) Misunderstanding by Ocalan
as to language and national issues in some countries :
We have seen above that Mr. Ocalan mentioned some Western states , namely the USA , Switzerland, Belgium, and Spain , as well as Russia , to show that different nationalities , speaking different languages , may coexist without problem within one state . He just mentioned the name of these countries, without saying what about their constitution and the reality in the matter . The examples were apparently meant for the Kurds in Turkey . Either Mr. Ocalan does not know the real situation in the states he mentioned , as to the issue of languages and nationalities , or he did not further the right examples to illustrate his ideas about the “solution” to the Kurdish question in Turkey .
I am going to present , as concisely as this can be possible , the reality as to the problems of nationalities and languages in the countries Mr. Ocalan gave as example , if necessary in their historic evolution . The aim is not exactly to criticise Mr. Ocalan, but, more importantly , to further a global image , sometimes with significant details , as to the questions of democracy, languages and nationalities in these countries . This image could possibly contribute to a better understanding of these issues in Turkey, and globally in the Middle East , and be perhaps helpful for a solution of the Kurdish national question by peaceful means . The following information are based on publications and archive found in my private library, and on an experience I have personally lived , at several moments , repeatedly inside these countries . No bibliographical references will be furthered, this paper being not a scholarly study , but written with the purpose to try to be helpful to clarify important issues , by the example . More particularly , the aim is to help the Kurdish people to see clearer across the fog which was put around them , to find the way for a better future.
USA , a particular case :
It is true, there is one American people , one American nation . The case is a special
case . The citizens of the USA were individual immigrants who came from elsewhere
. The first immigrants were English, then Irish, Scots or Welsh , who came from Britain.
There were afterwards different waves of immigrants , black Africans brought as slaves
, more and more British , French coming from French Canada , France, or already established
in Louisiana (a French name) , Vermont (a French name, meaning Green Mount), and
other states and places , Latin Americans , Germans, Italians, Arabs, Greeks, Chinese
, Japanese , and other Asiatic , etc. All these elements intermingled together from
the Atlantic to the Pacific , to form the American nation. There are no nationalities
in the USA presenting a majority in a geographical area and having a history as such
on the American continent , to the exception perhaps of the French of Louisiana for
a short period . The only native ‘nation’ of the USA were the different Indian tribes
, who were almost exterminated by the first white immigrants , save “reservations”
in some wild places. But all American citizens are free to keep alive the traditions,
including language and culture , of the countries from which they or their fathers
had emigrated . They may constitute communities of origin without having a territorial
basis ; they speak English , perhaps together with another language , for about two
or three generations. So are found more and more Spanish-
The situation in old Europe is quite different from the American case , and this
is what Abdullah Ocalan does not see, or does not say , confusing cases together
. To begin with Spain , it should be underlined that if there is one Spanish state
, there is not one Spanish language , but several regional languages , each having
its own territorial basis. None of them is called “Spanish”. There is not a “Spanish”
language as it is commonly believed outside Spain . However , one of these regional
languages , Castilian , the largest of them , derived from Latin and originally spoken
in central Spain and in the capital Madrid , has been used across centuries as the
official state language and its administration , and extended into some other areas
, whence a confusion between Castilian and ‘Spanish” . Other living regional languages
, also derived from Latin , are the Catalan (perhaps nearer to French than to Castilian),
spoken in Catalonia, with Barcelona as capital ; Galician , to the north of Portugal
, with Saint-
Under the Spanish republican government , before World War 2, a kind of autonomy was recognised to both Catalonia and the Basque country . This autonomy was abolished by the dictatorial and pro-
After the death of the dictator (in 1975) and the advent of a constitutional and democratic monarchy , aiming at reconciliation between the different nationalities, regions, and citizens of Spain , a new constitution , adopted on 29 December 1978 by the Cortes (Spanish parliament, constituted of the National Assembly plus the Senate), granted autonomy , on a geographical basis , to all the “nationalities” and “regions” of Spain , “within the unity of the Spanish nation”(Art. 2 of the Constitution). An autonomous status was thus recognised to both Catalonia and the Basque Country , which are the two nationalities the most typed and the most attached to their national characteristics . Galicia , Asturias had their status, as well as Andalusia , in the south, with Seville as capital . Castilian is nowadays spoken in Seville , but the area , once the centre of the Arab-
Catalonia (about 6 millions on 39,5 million inhabitants for all Spain ) seems , however , to be rather satisfied with its autonomy . Some Catalans would complain that their Generalitat does not include all the Catalan-
The autonomous Basque country ( Euskadi in the Vasco or Basque language, perhaps about 3 million people in Spain, if not less , beside about one million in France), whose political capital is Vitoria , is presently governed by the National Basque Party (Partido Nacionalista Vasco = PNV), with more autonomous attributes than Catalonia . Its largest city and economic capital, Bilbao , is slowly recovering, year after year, its old national language, but the use of Castilian is free . The Euskadi Generalitat in Spain has official relationship with the Spanish central government ; yet there are problems between them in matter of budget, and , more seriously , there is suspicion as to the ultimate aim of the Basque people . The Generalitat does not include all of the ancient Basque provinces in Spain, such as the province of Navarre (formerly divided between France and Spain), once a kingdom of its own speaking Vasco , but today Castilian. Many Basque people have aspirations for full independence and for the unification of their homeland on both sides of the Pyrenees . There was a legal Basque party for independence , Batasuna, and there is a Basque separatist underground organisation , ETA , which began from 1968 committing acts of terrorism against agents of the central government . However , the relations between the Spanish government and the Basque Generalitat were safe , because the PNV was officially against ETA , and independent of Batasuna. Generally speaking , there was a degree of equilibrium , not indeed perfect , between the Spanish central government and the regional autonomous governments . This unstable equilibrium was to be upset by the policy of José Maria Aznar , chief of the conservative Popular Party (the PP) who won the Spanish parliamentary polls of 1996 and became the president of the Spanish central government (Prime Minister) . It happened that I am writing this paragraph on Spain at the same time as the Spanish parliamentary election of 14 March 2004 , which was preceded by the tragic railway bombing of 11 March , whence comment on these events .
The PP had won the Spanish general elections of 1996 , against the Socialist Workers’ Party of Spain, the PSOE of Felipe Gonzalez , thanks to a tactical electoral alliance with the PNV and the CIU (= Convergence i Unio) , which is the nationalist governing party in Catalonia . As chief of the central government, Aznar’s policy in matter of economy was rather successful . The PP won therefore the general elections of 2000, obtaining alone an absolute majority at the Cortes . Mr. Aznar was no longer in need of a tactical alliance with the CIU and the PNV . He adopted as a consequence, since 2000, an aggressive and provocative policy not only toward the PNV and the CIU , but against all the autonomous regional governments , that he used to call ‘peripheral’ . He banned the Basque independence party Batasuna , in 2003, but not the Catalan party for independence , called Esquerra Republicana Catalunia (ERC ) of Josep Luis Carol Rovira , possibly because of its popularity in Catalonia . He ordered , without being correctly counselled , that the damaged oil tanker Prestige be sunk , thus causing extensive damage to see life at the Atlantic coast of Galicia and France. Furthermore , José Maria Aznar involved Spain in the war policy of the US president Bush in Iraq , against the will of a large majority of the Spanish people. Finally , while Spain is traditionally very European and has much profited from the economic policy of the European Union , especially in matter of agriculture and exchange , the PP leader was the main responsible for the failure of the draft European Constitution , prepared by the European Convention under the authority of Valerie Giscard d’Estaing , the former French president.
The sharp policy of Mr. Aznar toward the “peripheral” autonomous governments resulted in sharp centrifugal reactions , not only in Catalonia and Euskadi , against the central government. Everywhere more regional attributes , a remake of the Spanish autonomy system, a kind of real federalism , is requested . In November 2003 , Don Juan José Ibarrexte , the elected president of the autonomous Basque government, made public a PNV plan aiming at the transformation of the Basque country into ‘a state having partnership with Spain’. At Barcelona , the chief of the independence Catalan party (ERC), Rovira , said ‘there is nothing to do with Spain, it is a bad affair for the Catalans’ . At Seville , the regional president , Manuel Chavez , demands an “Andalusian power’. In Galicia , the regional president Manuel Fraga , although belonging to the PP , formerly a minister under Franco (who was himself a native of Galicia) , demands the transformation of Spain into a kind of federal state, with a Senate similar to the German Bundesrat .
Yet all the opinion polls pointed that the PP should win again the Spanish general elections of 14 March 2004 , over the PSOE , the rival socialist party . José Maria Aznar had announced his political retreat for 14 March , just after the polls, and designated in advance his successor as the future PP Prime Minister of Spain , in the person of one of his ministers, Mr. Mariano Rajoy. Four days before the polls, the PP was expected to be the winner by about 5 % or 6 % more votes than the PSOE . The question in discussion was whether the PP would have an absolute majority at the Cortes , as in 2000 , or a relative majority, as in 1996 . It was no question of PSOE winning the elections , the socialist party having been in a way discredited already under Gonzalez.
On Thursday morning 11 March , an open day , by 7.35 a.m. , four commuter trains , full with suburban people in their way to work or study in Madrid , exploded almost simultaneously upon arrival into three stations in the capital , one of them the central station . There were ten explosions commanded at distance and it was a carnage , 200 people killed , nearly 1500 injured . The electoral campaign was stopped by common agreement, but the elections were maintained for Sunday 14 March . Contrary to evidence , the PP government accused formally the Basque ETA organisation to be the butcher . The ETA had always warned before committing any terrorist action and had always targeted either military or civil agents of the central government , never the Spanish people. ETA denied twice to be the killer . An Islamist organisation claimed from London the responsibility for the Spanish “11 March” , in the style of Ben Laden’s al-
That makes a difference on the international field . With the ETA said to be the responsible for 11 March, the affair would have remained a Spanish-
There are other consequences , which should be positive for Spain. The Spanish people, or peoples , gave the proof of their wisdom . They did not entrust to the PSOE an absolute majority at the
In the PSOE programme there is more : it is question that the nationalities of Spain be represented, in a way or another, within the organs of the European Union and the Council of Europe . The leader of PSOE might put Spain on the rail towards perhaps a Spanish kind of federalism , and why not possibly to try to make the European institutions more representative of real Europe ? .
Anyway, we are , in Spain , very far from the Jacobinistic and unitary structures of the French Republic , which refuses any particular identity to the small people of Corsica , whose original language is other than French , and is still spoken . We are very far as well from the ideas of Abdullah Ocalan . Can the Kurds in Ocalan’s “democratic Turkey” have a legal party called “Kurdish National Party” that would govern a geographical area officially called “Kurdistan“ and enjoying autonomy , as the NPV does it legally in the Spanish part of the Basque country ? Can an official “Kurdish independence party” exist in such a Turkey and be able to elect its own MPs at the parliament of Turkey, as is the case , at the Cortes of Spain , with the Catalan independence party ERC ?
There is a similarity between the Basque situation and that of the Kurds, with this difference that the Kurds are about ten times as numerous as the Basques and that their situation is still more complex , and much worse than that of the Basques . As a result of the open struggle of the Basque people , these were given an autonomous status, on a geographical basis , be it geographically incomplete , while Turkey is denying the existence of the Kurdish people and has banned the name of Kurdistan . Another difference is this : the National Basque Party , PNV ,as this was said , representing the majority in the democratically elected Basque parliament , is governing the Basque country in Spain , while the “Kurdish National Leader” , Abdullah Ocalan , is rejecting in advance any Kurdish autonomy as something “feodal” and not true to modern human rights (sic).
I shall try to be concise as to the situation in Belgium, but it needs some explanation.
Belgium includes three nationalities or linguistic groups , all having their own
geographical area , the Flemish in the northern half, speaking Flemish , which is
Dutch or a kind of Dutch ; the Walloons in the southern half , speaking Walloon ,
which is French or a kind of French ; and a German-
The Belgian federal system is rather a complex system of internal equilibrium . To be short , the Federal state , with a parliament called Chamber of Representatives coupled with a Senate, and an elected federal government , is the upper level covering three
We are very far from Abdullah Ocalan’s idea about Belgium , that he possibly imagined a country where nationalities and languages are freely mixed together, in a kind of twisted magma. Each language, each nationality in federal Belgium has its own geographical area , beyond which it cannot extend. The Flemish would not much appreciate anybody . be he/she a foreign tourist , speaking French in Flanders , but they would welcome anybody speaking English . I know this by experience. But things are getting easier with time.
The Flemish have the secret ambition to acquire one day a majority within Brussels, to recover the Region of Brussels-
To some it up , the Belgian federal system , newly established after a very long, but civil , linguistic-
Abdullah Ocalan is, in a way, suggesting to Turkey a “lame solution” to the Kurdish question, somehow based on one pillar , one leg , that is the sole concept of a Kurdish linguistic and cultural
Mr. Ocalan misunderstands the situation in Switzerland as well , for the same reasons
and in the same way. I have been living the Swiss federalism from inside over more
than one half of a century, to have come as a young man to study a the universities
of Lausanne and Geneva, and to be a Swiss citizen from several decades. I achieved
in the summer 2003 a small book in Arabic on the principles of federalism, explaining
especially the Swiss case, among other cases, to help the Arabs and Kurds in Iraq
, the two main nationalities in this state , building up a new, democratic, and federal
Switzerland ( Schweiz in German, Suisse in French , Svizzera in Italian , 41'288'000 sq.km , 7,25 million inhabitants in January 2002) is geographically constituted of two complex of mountains. On one hand the great , massive , rugged, and higher Alps , shared between Switzerland , France, Austria, Germany, and Italy , culminated at its central and Swiss part at more than 4600 m . On the other hand , the Jura softer and much lower parallel ridges, culminating at 1600 to 1700 m , shared between Switzerland and France on the west . The two mountainous areas , covered with forest and pasture land , with isolated farms and villages , constitute , with the Swiss lakes , about 66 % of the Swiss territory , and are scarcely populated . The grand mass of population , with the urban centres, cultivated land and prosperous villages, is concentrated in the Plateau , Mittelland in German , between the Alps and the Jura , representing one third of the national territory. The Plateau stretches from Geneva and lake Léman , on the south-
Switzerland is often presented as the oldest democracy in Europe. There are four
German is used (in 2002), in the understanding mentioned above, by about 69 % of the Swiss population, in the central, northern and eastern parts of the country ; French, by about 23 % of them , in the western and south-
The German spoken in Switzerland is not the
The Swiss nucleus was constituted on August 1 , 1291 , by a pact of ‘Perpetual Union’ , known as the Grütli Oath , between three independent forest Alpine valleys , Uri , Schwytz, and Unterwald , called Waldstätten (the Forest States), German-
Napoleon had a special interest in Switzerland. In January 1798 , approached by Swiss intellectuals from Lausanne living in Paris, the French Directoire (revolutionary government), ordered French troops to liberate the Swiss city from occupation by Bern . Lausanne was made capital of the agricultural area centred on it , which was called by the French République lémanique for a while, future canton of Vaud . The French troops conquered Bern itself, capital of the Confederation . After consultation between Swiss delegates , at Paris, and the French Directoire, the name of Swiss Confederation was changed into République helvétique . That was followed by a revolt in central Switzerland , against the change, which was crushed by French troops . In June 1800 , Napoleon , not yet proclaimed Emperor , but already First Consul of France and a prominent general , crossed the Swiss Alps at the path of Saint-
The Swiss Confederation became a federation only in 1848 , according to a Constitution in which the cantons , formerly allied independent states , transferred part of their sovereignty to the federal state . The name of Confederatio Helvetica was however kept for historical reasons . Before 1848, decisions by the Confederation were taken unanimously by the cantons , but in the federal state , they are taken by a majority of citizens, on one hand, and a majority of cantons, on the other hand . There is , in Switzerland , a federal government , a federal bicameral parliament , constituted of a National Council , elected by the citizens , and a Council of States (somehow a senate) , where the cantons are represented, beside a Federal Court of Justice . Each canton has its own constitution , parliament, government , and a higher court of justice.
Today’s Switzerland is constituted of 23 cantons , or federate states , three of which (Unterwalden, Appenzell, and Basel) being divided into two half-
Three cantons are at horseback on the linguistic demarcation line : Fribourg , Valais , and still Bern , the second largest in the country. The largest part of the canton of Fribourg, and the capital-
In the western part of Valais , including the canton’s capital, Sion, French is used , while in the eastern part , called Upper Valais , German is spoken . Here too , there is no problem between the two linguistic communities to live side by side , each in its own area , and to run together the canton . There is no a
‘Their Excellency’ the Zähringen lords of Bern were warlike people in the Middle Age . Already prior to the Grütli Oath of 1291 , they extended their domination on French-
The city of Bienne , a French name , called Biel in German , at the foothill of Jura , to the north of Neuchâtel , still belongs to the canton of Bern . It is perhaps a remnant of the old settlement by Germanic elements from Bern , a heritage of the medieval Zähringen. It has , nowadays , a mixed population, one French-
The case of Bienne/Biel is a special one , it is different from the case of the French-
The example of Bienne/Biel could be perhaps a model to be adopted by such a multicultural city as Istanbul. Could we imagine the 3,5 million Kurds or so of the Bosphorus metropolis having their own municipal , or private, educational institutions teaching officially in Kurdish , and being elected as Kurds using their own language at the city municipality ? Could we imagine Kurdish made the first official language in Turkish Kurdistan , and officially used by Kurdish MPs at the parliament of Turkey ?
There is of course democracy , mutual acceptance and tolerance in federal Switzerland , but Abdullah Ocalan completely misunderstands the Swiss example . To conclude , we have in Switzerland four
USSR and Russia :
At perhaps a hundred places in his book , Ocalan repeats severe and undue criticism
against the “established socialism” , meaning the USSR , to have endowed the countless
nationalities of the Union with political and territorial entities -
Globally speaking , that was one of the few positive achievements of the USSR . Ocalan’s criticism with this respect is obviously meant to the good understanding of the Turkish government. Turkey does not have to worry about the issue. He himself , the undisputed leader of the Kurdish people , not only does not care about endowing the 21 or 22-
To come back to the Kurdish situation in the USSR , Kurdish was recognised as one of the 130 national languages of the Soviet Union . In 1923 , under Lenin and according to his will , a Kurdish Autonomous Region was created in Transcaucasia, in the area centred on the city of Lachin, 5'000 sq.km inhabited by a Kurdish majority. This area was one of the regions of Transcaucasia where a Kurdish dynasty , the Shaddadids , were ruling in full sovereignty in the Middle Age (10th –13th cent.). An autonomous region must be placed within the framework of a state . The Kurdish Autonomous Region of Lachin was disputed between the SSR of Armenia and Azerbaijan . After the death of Lenin, in 1924 , Stalin placed it within Azerbaijan .
The Soviet Kurds called their autonomous region Kurdistana Sor , meaning “Red Kurdistan”
in Kurdish . The regional government opened Kurdish schools and published a paper
called Soviet Kurdistan . In 1929 , under Stalin, the government of Soviet Azerbaijan
abolished the Kurdish regional autonomy and began a policy of forced assimilation
against the Kurds , in the same way as Turkey was doing it at the same time . Besides,
the Azeris used Islam as means of assimilation . In 1937 , and in 1944, when at this
year Hitler’s German armies still represented a danger for Ukraine, Stalin deported
thousands of hundreds people belonging to different nationalities , including Tatars
of Crimea , Kurds of Transcaucasia , Chechens , and othes , into Central Asia – many
Kurds into Siberia . One of them was a known Kurdish and communist writer, Ereb Shemo
, who had published books for the glory of the “Soviet homeland”. After the death
of Stalin in 1953 , many of the deportees returned home , but many others remained
in their exile land . So have we , nowadays, scattered Kurdish communities , of villages
or city dwellers, in eight former Soviet Republics , Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan
, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan , Kirghizia and Tajikstan , beside the Russian
Federation (including Siberia) . Nobody can tell exactly how many they are , possibly
about 600 thousand people altogether , perhaps more , without counting those who
have been assimilated in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan . According to the Russian census
of population of 1899 , the first carried out on the basis of mother tongue , the
Kurds of Transcaucasia numbered 99'900 people (Turkmenistan , with an older Kurdish
settlement already partially assimilated, being excluded) . According to this census,
the Kurds in Transcaucasia were more numerous than the Kabardin, the Abkhaz, the
Tates, the Circassians, etc. , coming just after the Ossetians . Since 1899, the
population in the area has been multiplied by more than ten, perhaps fifteen , to
the exception of those who were to suffer under Stalin .
The most important number of Kurds living today in what was the USSR, are those of the Russian Federation (estimated at nearly 300'000 people, for the most coming from other republics) , and those of Kazakhstan (reportedly some 100'000 people) . Their problem is to be scattered everywhere across a continent , not to have a land where they could enjoy self-
The implosion process of the USSR , because of the
The final resolution of the conference was not submitted to discussion by the steering committee , probably for approval by the Politburo of the Communist Party of the USSR . The English text, as prepared by the steering committee after consultation , was sent to me by Russian Kurds at Moscow who had participated in the conference and were working as a liaison centre between the different Soviet Kurdish communities . It is an important resolution . Here are the most significant paragraphs . The resolution mentions “the flagrant perversion of the national policy under Stalin in the period of stagnation with reference to the Kurdish people, namely , the dissolution in 1929 of the autonomous region of Kurdistan , the forced assimilation of the Kurds, the deportations of 1937 and 1944 , the closing of Kurdish schools and publishing houses and the falsification of population figures.” It stressed the needs to develop publishing and broadcasting in Kurdish , to overcome the obstacles to the teaching of the Kurdish language and literature . It pointed to a de facto deterioration of the position of the Soviet Kurds , and to “the almost complete absence of cultural relations between Kurds in the USSR and those resident in other countries.” The steering committee therefore urged that Kurdish publications, using the Roman-
“The conference steering committee also noted the growing interest of the Soviet Kurds in the Kurdish people abroad and their struggle for self-
Concretely , in conclusion , “the resolution urged the setting up of a Kurdish Federal Association to include representatives from all the Soviet republics concerned , together with a Kurdish Cultural Centre in Moscow , to include a publishing house , as a prelude to the establishment of an
The SSR of Azerbaijan proposed that an “Autonomous Kurdistan” be recreated on its territory but at another place ; the Kurds refused, being attached to their old territory of Lachin (this was reported to me during the conference) . After the disintegration of the USSR , under Gorbachev , and the independence of the formerly Soviet Republics in Central Asia and Transcaucasia , thanks to regional nationalism and regional interests, the previously autonomous region of “Red Kurdistan” was conquered , in 1992, by Armenia on Azerbaijan . The Kurds who were still there fled away to Russia and Azerbaijan.
In 2000 the Russian Federation granted its own Kurds the official status of Federal Cultural Autonomy , usually recognised to national groups representing nowhere a territorial majority . Beside the Kurds , this status was recognised to the Ukrainian community, the Germans of the Volga, the Jews, and some other nationalities . The original homeland of all the Kurds is Kurdistan , but not Russia or what the Russians call Transcaucasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) . The Russian Federation cannot do more for its Kurds than granting them such a status . But while the Germans of the Volga obtained money from the German Federal Republic to return back home (many did it , but they did not succeed integration in the German society), there is no an independent Kurdistan to be financially helpful for the Russian Kurds ,
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