Essay about Spotlight On The Kurds By Ucla Professor Asli Bali

1413 Words Nov 29th, 2016 6 Pages
“Spotlight on the Kurds” This discussion began with an introduction by UCLA professor Asli Bali on the early years of the Republic of Turkey’s founding and how the Kurdish community play into this historical event. During the War of Independence, which took place between 1919 and 1923, Turkish nationalists relied heavily on Kurdish militia groups to maintain territorial integrity. Yet, when Turkey officially gained independence in 1923 as the Republic of Turkey and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Turkification program was set into motion, the Kurdish people resisted heavily. Bali said that Kurds had previously enjoyed “continuity” in their relationship with their ancestral land and cultural identity, and had no reason to buy into the Turkification program. The Kurds were also opposed to the secularization of Ataturk’s state-building project, which led to many confrontations with the Turkish State. The speaker specifically mentioned the Dersim massacres, which occurred between 1937 and 1938 as a result of the Dersim Rebellion. This revolt occurred on ethnic and sectarian grounds, which Bali said was “put down viciously, with the killing of tens of thousands of Turkish citizens by the Turkish State.” Bali also established that these massacres set the tone for Turkey’s relationship with the Kurdish community, a tone that continues to resonate today and one that is characterized by “attempted assimilation, followed by massive violence.” By the 1990s, Bali said Turkey had…

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