Kurdish Matters in Diyarbekir

Your help is needed!

What Kurdish Matters is all about…

Do you ever hear them? The stories of Kurds, sharing their hopes in life, their sorrows, their choices, dreams, pains? Probably, you never do. Because the stories that are usually in the media about Kurds in Turkey, are about violence.

Violence is part of the Kurdish problem, but not the root of it. The root is that people’s human rights are being denied. With Kurdish Matters, I want to tell the story of the Kurdish issue through the eyes of average Kurds. Villagers and city dwellers, students, workers, housewives, activists, mothers, fathers, children. Their lives tell the true story of the Kurdish issue in Turkey.

Writing this book is going to require about €40,000, most of which will come from fundraising. Please consider helping Frederike Geerdink in her fundraising efforts so that she can continue her research and publish this important book, and bring out the voices of the Kurds in the region.

Go to http://www.indiegogo.com/KurdishMatters to make your donation today!



New Book: The Margins of Empire

The Margins of Empire: Kurdish Militias in the Ottoman Tribal Zone
Janet Klein, Associate Professor of History at The University of Akron

Stanford University Press, 2011 (forthcoming)

About the book

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Ottoman state identified multiple threats in its eastern regions. In an attempt to control remote Kurdish populations, Ottoman authorities organized them into a tribal militia and gave them the task of subduing a perceived Armenian threat. Following the story of this militia, Klein explores the contradictory logic of how states incorporate groups they ultimately aim to suppress and how groups who seek autonomy from the state often attempt to do so through state channels.

In the end, Armenian revolutionaries were not suppressed and Kurdish leaders, whose authority the state sought to diminish, were empowered. The tribal militia left a lasting impact on the region and on state-society and Kurdish-Turkish relations. Putting a human face on Ottoman-Kurdish histories while also addressing issues of state-building, local power dynamics, violence, and dispossession, this book engages vividly in the study of the paradoxes inherent in modern statecraft.


‘Klein sheds light on some of the most important and complicated relations and negotiations the Ottoman officials were engaged in as their empire crumbled around them. She never loses sight of the broader implications of her work in this original, highly valuable look at a significant period in the history of the Middle East.’—Resat Kasaba, University of Washington

‘This is a most welcome and very significant contribution to Kurdish history and to the history of the eastern provinces during the late Ottoman period. The rich documentation of the saga of the Kurds as they undergo a very difficult transformation will generate healthy scholarly debate. An excellent book.’—Fatma Müge Göçek, University of Michigan

See Table of Contents here.

Read an excerpt from the Introduction here.

Order book here.

The Kurds of Syria: from the latest Syrian Studies Association newsletter

The Kurds of Syria is the focus of the latest issue of the Syrian Studies Association (SSA) Newsletter (Vol XVI No. 1, Spring 2011)

Below are the articles from this latest SSA newsletter with links to the full article at the SSA website. If you wish to download the entire 52-page newsletter, click here (.pdf).

Scholarship on the Kurds in Syria: A History and State of the Art Assessment (Jordi Tejel)

A summary of the history of scholarship on the Kurds of Syria from the beginning of French Mandate to the present with emphasis on the importance of historical context in evaluating the current state of Kurdish affairs in Syria.

Studying the Kurds in Syria: Challenges and Opportunities (Robert Lowe)

This article provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities of studying the Kurds in Syria.

Ten Years of Bashar al‑Asad and No Compromise with the Kurds (Eva Savelsberg and Siamend Hajo)

The Kurdish population of Syria continues to suffer significant human rights violations at the hands of Syrian security forces ten years into Bashar al-Asad’s presidency. The resulting tensions led to an unprecedented uprising across Kurdish Syria in 2004.

Sufism among the Kurds in Syria (Paulo Pinto)

Sufism has a pervasive presence in the religious and cultural life of the Kurds in Syria. The vast majority of them are Sunni Muslims and their Islamic practices and beliefs are marked by a strong influence of Sufism. This analysis shows how Sufi communities and holy places constitute social spaces where discrete articulations between Muslim identities and Kurdish ethnicity emerge, allowing the Kurds to mobilize various forms of affirming cultural distinctiveness and negotiating their insertion in the Syrian society.

Book Reviews

A Work of Reference on Syria’s Kurds (Boris James)

Jordi Tejel, Syria’s Kurds: History, Politics and Society. New York: Routledge, 2009. 208 pages.

Syria’s Undocumented Kurds (Ahmet Serdar Akturk)

Nevzat Bingöl, Suriye’nin Kimliksizleri Kürtler (Syria’s Undocumented Kurds). Istanbul: Elma, 2004.

New book: Kurdish Identity, Disourse, and New Media

About the book
Informed by the interdisciplinary approach of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and theories of identity, nation, and media, the study investigates the ways Kurds, the world’s largest stateless nation, use satellite television and Internet to construct their identities. This book examines the complex interrelationships between ethno-national identities, discourses, and new media. Not only offers the first study of discursive constructions of Kurdish identity in the new media, this book also the first CDA informed comparative study of the contents of the two media. The study pushes the boundaries of the growing area of studies of identity, nationalism and transnationalism, discourse studies, minority language, and digital media.

Dr. Sheyholislami’s book will be available in mid-June from Palgrave Macmillan.

-Discourse, Media, and Nation
-Kurdish Identity
-Kurdish Media: From Print to Facebook
-Discourse Practices of Kurdistan TV (KTV)
-Textual Analysis of KTV
-Discourse Practices of Kurdish Internet
-Textual Analysis of Kurdish Internet
-Discussion and Conclusion

About the author
Jaffer Sheyholislami was born in 1960 in the city of Mahabad in Mukriyan Province. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He teaches courses in the areas of applied linguistics and discourse analysis on a variety of topics such as language and power/ideology, sociology of language, research and practice in academic writing, and language and media.

He earned his PhD in Communication at Carleton in 2008. His main research interests lie with a critical understanding of language and other semiosis in social life. Currently, with Co-editors Dr. Amir Hassanpour and Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, he is preparing an edited volume on the Kurdish language with a focus on the social, political and legal aspects of the language and how these are intertwined with education and identity in Kurdistan. His other areas of research have included: critical discourse analysis of the representation of Kurds in the US and Canada, Iranian ethnic media and citizenship in Canada, the semiotic construction of Canadian national identity, the dialogic nature of blogging in educational settings, and the place of blogging in the construction of Kurdish imagined communities.

Kurdish politics in Syria: a ‘Webliography’ from Chatham House

In February Chatham House put out a Webliography of articles and resources on Kurdish politics in Syria. Given the events in Syria at the moment, it’s a timely resource. And Kurdistan Commentary got included! Below is a list of their resources. If you want to download the original 3-page .pdf version of their webliography, click here.

Selected Webliography

Kurdish politics and Syria, Chatham House Library and Information Service, February 2011

The following is a select list of websites, articles and books on Kurdish politics and Syria, [most] available on the web.

To find out about Chatham House’s research, analysis and events on Kurdish politics and Syria, please visit the Middle East and North Africa Programme’s site.

To search our Library catalogue for books, articles and papers on Kurdish politics, please visit our site.

General Sites

Amnesty International – Syria

Human Rights Watch

Kurdistan National Assembly – Syria


Political Resources on the Net – Kurdistan

Rojhelat- The Kurdish Observer

Support Kurds in Syria


Amnesty International: Trial of Kurds in Syria likely to be a ‘parody of justice’. Amnesty International, 15 December 2009

Arsu, Sebnem: Turkey says Syria detains 400 Kurdish separatists. New York Times, 1 July 2010

Damascus Bureau: Syrian Kurds – bolder, but still oppressed. Damascus Bureau, 27 July 2010

Ismaeel, Bashdar Pusho: The plight of the Syrian Kurds: the forgotten kindred. Kurdish Globe, 30 January 2011

Kurdistan Commentary: Syrian Kurds in Europe, 2010: migration, asylum, and deportation. Kurdistan Commentary, 19 December 2010

Lowe, Robert: Kurds in Syria: from the shadows. World Today, Vol 61, No 11, November 2005, pp 7-8

Spyer, Jonathan: The forgotten minority. GLORIA Center, 9 July 2010

Documents, Books and Papers

Austrian Red Cross and the Danish Immigration Service: Human rights issues concerning Kurds in Syria: report from a joint fact-finding mission (.pdf)…21 January to 8 February 2010. Vienna: Austrian Red Cross, 2010

Human Rights Watch: Group denial: repression of Kurdish political and cultural rights in Syria. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2009

Human Rights Watch: Repression of Kurds in Syria. IN A wasted decade: human rights in Syria during Bashar al-Asad’s first ten years in power. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2010

Human Rights Watch: Syria: the silenced Kurds. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2006

Lowe, Robert: The Kurdish policy imperative. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2010 (overview of book)

Lowe, Robert: The Syrian Kurds: a people discovered (.pdf). London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2006

Lynch, Maureen and Ali, Perveen: Buried alive: stateless Kurds in Syria (.pdf). Washington: Refugees International, 2006

Mella, Jawad: Western Kurdistan which is occupied by Syria (.pdf). London: Western Kurdistan Association, 2007

Montgomery, Harriet: The Kurds of Syria: an existence denied. Berlin: Europäisches Zentrum für Kurdische Studien, 2005 (executive summary, .pdf)

Rojhelat-The Kurdish Observer: The current situation of the Kurds in Syria. [s.l.]: Rojhelat, 2011

Tejel, Jordi: Syria’s Kurds: history, politics and society. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009 (on Google books)

Troyansky, Vladimir and Bengio, Ofra: Facing the Ba’th: the Syrian Kurdish awakening (.pdf). Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 2010

Yildiz, Kerim: The Kurds in Syria: the forgotten people. London: Pluto Press, 2005 (overview)

Ziadeh, Radwan: The Kurds in Syria: fueling separatist movements in the region? (.pdf) Washington: United States Institute of Peace, 2009

If you have any comments or queries relating to this list or any other research issues, please contact us on 020 7957 5723 or libenquire@chathamhouse.org.uk


For articles on Kurdistan Commentary about Syria, click here.

Runaway to Nowhere

Runaway to Nowhere is the first novel by Kurdish-American author Qasham Balata. She was born in Duhok (South Kurdistan) in 1968 and now lives in Boston, MA, USA.

From the author’s website, she says:

My novel’s events happened during the Kurd’s uprising after the first Gulf War and their mass exodus from Northern Iraq to refugee camps along the Turkish and Iranian borders and when the western journalists compelled the first Bush administration to establish the safe haven better known in the 1990s as ‘the Northern No-fly zone.’ In my book I wrote about modern Kurdish history, tradition, and women.

Kani Xulam of the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) published a reflection on the book yesterday on the AKIN website and he describes it as a book about love, war, and the haplessness of the Kurdish woman.

It is about the cruelty of the Kurdish man. It is about the brutality of Arabs. It is about the fickleness of ‘Great Powers.’ It is about the dearth of virtue. It is about the absence of honor. And yes, it is also about the transience of freedom.

With some levity, the reflection continues and discusses how brides are chosen at funerals. They are chosen at funerals ‘one character tells us in the book, to avoid an ugly bride, for in Kurdish weddings, the Kurdish maidens put on a lot of make up.’

But it is a serious novel that tells a story of love and loss and separation. Xulam’s reflection continues…

It is a war drama. It starts off in a place called Mosul. For those of you who don’t know of the place, it is a dusty city on the banks of Tigris. But for the narrator, a Kurdish woman, who attends its university, it comes close to being idyllic. Initially, you are thrown off by the incongruence of the comparison, but soon you realize that even Nome, Alaska would have qualified for the same description. The reason: it is away from home.

Pray to God that war has not knocked on your door for a visit, says Xulam’s reflection. He mentions war and the mountains and their indifference to the young and the old.

In the words of one character, they [the mountains] devour especially ‘children under three years old and [the] elderly.’  Cold wears the robes of the angel of death.  Hunger and thirst aid and abet and thousands are lowered into shallow makeshift graves.  You can’t help but remember your Thomas Hobbes from college.  Life, as the English philosopher once so memorably put it, is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’ in the spring of 1991…

Author, Qasham Balata

The reflection leaves us with a wish from Nareen, the narrator, who ‘becomes the reluctant chronicler of this mass exodus’ to the mountains. In a conversation Nareen has with her American photojournalist friend, Emily, she says she wishes ‘we had a united Kurdish state –a wish that will continue to live in my heart and the hearts of millions of Kurds across the globe.’

To read the rest of the thoughtful reflection penned by Kani Xulam, visit the AKIN website.

To learn more about the author, visit her book’s website.

After that, go buy the book!

Kurdish publishing in Turkey

In the year 2010 at least 115 Kurdish books were published in Turkey. The number of books published in Kurdish in 2007 was 109, and 97 were published in 2008. The 2010 figure is slightly down from 2009 (118 books), but marks an upward trend in publishing in Kurdish, particularly since 1990.

Lîs Publishing House (Weşanên Lîs) published the most books with 21 copies, Avesta Publications printed 17 and Do publications 16. A substantial increase in the number of books translated into Kurdish accounts for much of the overall rise in numbers. Lîs, for example, translated 10 books into Kurdish.

From 1923 to 1970 only six books were published. From 1971-1979, ten books. There were no books in Kurdish published in Turkey from 1980 to 1989 (the coup and subsequent years). During the 90s, 212 books were published. And from 2000-2005, 367 books.

Recently Kurdish publishers have been specialising in certain fields. For example, Nûbihar Publishing House mainly publishes religious literature, Lîs and Belki publish fiction, and Vate Publishing House focuses on books in the Kırmancki (Zazakî) dialect.

Kurdish books published in Turkey typically sell between 100 to 1000 copies a year. Some of the best selling books are dictionaries and grammar books, such as Ferhengok Kurdî-Tirkî (Pocket Kurdish-Turkish dictionary, Welat Publishing House) and Dersên Zimanê Kurdî (Lessons in Modern Kurdish, Deng Publishing House). The pocket dictionary in 2002-2003 had a print run of 13,500.

In recent years some Kurdish publishing houses and Kurdish periodicals have moved their centres to Diyarbakır, and new publishing houses have been established there. Of the publishing houses with central offices in Diyarbakır, Deng, Bîr, Lîs and Belki, the last three were founded between 2003 and 2005. Previously all Kurdish publishers had been based in Istanbul and Ankara.

Here is a list (from 2006) of Kurdish publishers, opening date, and address:

Aram Publishing House (Weşanên Aram)-1997
Cağaloğlu Yokuşu Hobyar Mah.
Cemal Nadir Sok. Uğur Han No: 18/305

Avesta Publishing House (Weşanên Avesta)-1995
Avesta has published more Kurdish books than any other publishing company.
Evliya Çelebi Mah.
Aybastı Sok. No: 48/4
Tel: 0090/212 251 44 80

Bîr Publishing House (Weşanên Bîr)-2005
İnönü Cad. Ma-Gül İş Merkezi No: 49
Tel: 0090/412 228 78 28

Deng Publishing House (Weşanên Deng)-1989
Kurt İsmail Paşa 5. Sok.
Fırat 5 Apt. No: 2/1
Tel: 0090/412 223 89 23

Doz Publishing House (Weşanên Doz)-1990
Taksim Cad. No: 71/5
80090 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
Tel: 0090/212 297 25 05

Elma Publishing House (Weşanên Elma)-2002
İlk Belediye Caddesi 37/6
Tel: 0090/212 243 01 56

Kurdish Institute in Istanbul (Weşanên Enstîtuya Kurdî ya Stenbolê)-1992
Mesih Paşa Mah. Ordu Cad.
Hadi Han. No: 305 K: 5

Komal Publishing House (Weşanên Komalê)-1974
Katip Mustafa Çelebi Mah.
Hasnun Galip Sok.
Uğur Apt. No: 25 Kat: 3 Daire: 4
Tel: 0212 243 83 97

Lîs Publishing House (Weşanên Lîs)-2004
Ma-Gül İş Merkezi Kat:1 No: 66
Tel: 0090/412 228 97 76

Nûbihar Publishing House (Weşanên Nûbihar)-1992
P. K. 80 Fatih İstanbul

Pêrî Publishing House (Weşanên Pêrî)-1997
Osman Ağa Mah. Söğütlü Çeşme Cad.
Pavlonya Sok. No: 10/19
Tel: 0090/216 347 26 44

Vate Publishing House (Weşanxaneyê Vateyî)-2003
Katip Mustafa Çelebi Mah.
Tel Sok. No: 18 Kat: 3
Tel: 0090/212 244 94 14


Malmisanij, Mehemed (2006). The Past and Present of Book Publishing in Kurdish Language in Turkey. Next Page Foundation.

Books published in Kurdish on the increase. Firat News Agency, 04 January 2010. (Translation: Berna Ozgencil)