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Turkey (Country)
History of the Middle East
Kurdish Language and Culture

Why did Turkey try to destroy its Kurdish citizens' culture?


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November 28, 2012 10:25PM

Answer 1

Turkey did not try to destroy the Kurdish culture. To preserve the territorial integrity of Turkey everyone that lives within the borders of Turkey are considered to be Turks and everyone is treated equally.

Answer 2

Part of Kemal Ataturk's attempt to create a unified Turkish Republic in 1923 was to prevent further fragmentation of the country. This problem was acute given the fact that Treaty of Versailles (1919) had ripped away 2/3 of the Ottoman Territory and the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) took even more territory away from Turkey and would have established French and British Spheres of Influence. There had also been several wars in the Balkans which cost Ottoman territory in the 1910s. (Ataturk was able to overturn the Treaty of Sèvres in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne, which restored some Turkish Territory and prevented the spheres of influence.) In order to establish a united Turkish identity, he felt it necessary to establish common cultural views to promote the unity of Turkey's citizenry. If some "Turks" did not have a Turkish sense of self, they may seek to form an independent country to express their cultural tendency (just as many of the Balkan states had).

The Kurds were the largest group of Turkish citizens who were not ethnic Turks. As a direct result of fearing that the Kurds would attempt to form their own country, the Turks repressed their cultural expression in an attempt to de-Kurd-ify them and Turk-ify them. The fear of Kurdish revolt is not terribly surprising given the Kurdish revolts in Iraq in 1925 and in Iran in 1928. The Turkish government under Erdogan has been the first to recognize that while Turkish Kurds are Turkish citizens, that they can have a Kurdish culture and still be loyal Turkish citizens.