Destinations Magazine

Turkey and Its Kurds: Dreams of Self-rule

By Stizzard
Turkey and its Kurds: Dreams of self-rule Where Kobane’s martyrs now lie

ON A recent evening in Cizre, an old Kurdish settlement skirted by the Tigris river in south-east Turkey, a family grieves. Muhammad, their 20-year-old son, died fighting jihadists of Islamic State (IS) across the border in the Syrian town of Kobane shortly after Kurdish forces declared victory on January 26th. “Cizre gave 17 martyrs for Kobane,” says Mullah Qassem, an imam who has come to pay condolences. Pan-Kurdish sentiments have been sharpened by the battle against IS, in turn stirring the long-standing rebelliousness of Cizre, where a legendary Kurdish emir, Bedr Han, rose up against the Ottomans in the early 19th century. “Cizre is ours, Kobane is ours, we must fight for both,” says Muhammad’s mother, Selma.The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) started fighting for Kurdish self-rule in 1984. Scores were killed in Cizre in 1992 when Turkish forces opened fire on civilians who celebrated the Kurdish new year in defiance of orders to stay home. Muhammad was imprisoned for a year for throwing stones at a police vehicle. “He was only 14, he then vowed to join the PKK,” Selma recalls.The Justice and…

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