Rawest poll shows Kurdish feel discriminated in Turkey
As per a recent finding by YADA Foundation, Kurdish Studies Center and Rawest Research Company, Turkey has been deliberately alienating Kurdish youth. The survey funded by the British Embassy and the Heinrich Boll Stiftung, was carried out with over 1,500 young people of 15 to 29 years of age from different parts of the country including Istanbul, Izmir, southern Mersin and Adana, southeastern Diyarbakir, Mardin, Sanliurfa and eastern Van provinces. The poll mainly focused on east and southeast Turkey.
The surveyed showed that seven out of 10 Kurdish youth feel being discriminated by the Turkish authorities. Among the respondents those who supported pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said that they faced more discrimination than those who voted for other political parties.The polling also unveiled the the community has not been treated well which adds to its underdevelopment as only thirty four percent of the country’s Kurdish youth are employed, out of which 24 percent are in unskilled labour jobs and the rest are unemployed.
According to the Rawest poll, the country’s Kurdish youth refer to themselves as “Muslim’’ first, followed by , “Kurdish’’ and “pro-freedom”.Turkey’s Kurds are the country’s largest ethnic minority, comprising about 15 to 20 percent of the population. Kurds have been fighting authorities for years to save their culture, language and identity. It is lost to the extent that one section of the community residing in western Turkey do not even know Kurdish any more. The survey highlighted that a significant portion of the Kurdish population said that they had forgotten their mother tongue over time.
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The community has been subjected to years of discrimination and violence.State and its political setup has categorical worked towards eroding the Kurdish culture and language over the years, so much so that the country’s judiciary even categorized the Kurdish language as “unknown language”. Under the military rule, during the 1980 coup, the administration banned the use of Kurdish in public, which was later decriminalised in 1991.
Reha Ruhavioğlu of Rawest research firm said that the poll discovered that Kurdish people registered the lowest rate of general happiness in the country. It’s ironic to state that despite all this recently Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that “Turkey has no Kurdish issue”, whereas in reality the country doesn’t want to acknowledge the identity of the minority ethnic group as it considered the community as a threat due to its separatist history. In October, the Nobel prize-winning Italian writer Dario Fo was barred from running a play performed in Kurdish in Istanbul as the authorities labelled it of exhibiting terrorist propaganda.
The country is witnessing a strong undercurrent of Kurds versus Turkish. Roj Girasun, director of Diyarbakir-based Rawest Research, said that the survey showed that “Kurdish youth feels disappointed by the mainstream media which doesn’t give enough space and visibility to their problems, and they refer to the alternative news channels to fill this gap.” He added, “This atmosphere affects their romantic relationships. 44 percent of Kurdish respondents do not want to marry a Turkish girl. They are building very high walls around their Kurdishness vis-à-vis Turks.”