THE NATIONAL QUESTION OF TURKISH KURDISTAN
Important events appear to be shaping themselves as well as taking place in Turkish Kurdistan and the whole Republic of Turkey. These events concern the democratic life and the system of government of the republic; they affect the present and the future of both the Turkish and the Kurdish peoples and are directly related to the Kurdish national question.- Before reviewing and analysing them, it is necessary to give some general data about Turkish Kurdistan and to have a look at its history.
Turkish Kurdistan is, naturally, a part of the territory of the Republic of Turkey, and the country of that part of the Kurdish people who live within the boundaries of this state. It covers what our Turkish friends call- nowadays - the "Doğu Anadolu" ("eastern Anatolia") and the "Guney Doğu Anadolu" ("South-eastern Anatolia"), or, to simplify, the "Doğu" ("The East"). In administrative terms, that represents roughly 19 out of the vilayets, or provinces ("il", plural "iller", in Turkish), of the state. With the exception of the western half of the vilayet of Marash (Maras), and, possibly, of some peripherical districts of those of Malatya, Erzurum and Kars, the 19 vilayets which constitute Turkish Kurdistan are the following: Adiyaman, Agri (Ararat), Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyar bekir (Diyarbakir), Elazig, Erzinjan (Erzincan), Erzurum, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Kars, Malatya, Marash, Mardin, Mush (Mus), Siirt, Tunceli (Dersim) Urfa and Van. But a part of the vilayet of Sivas, to the east and south-east of Zara, is Kurdish.
Turkish Kurdistan leans against the Syrian, the Iraqi, the Persian and the soviet borders, to the east and south of a line going schematically from Hatay (Alexandretta) to Ardahan, through the following points: Marash, Elbistan, west of Malatya, Zara, north of Erzinjan, north of Erzurum.- Its surface is about 225.000 km2, or 29.3 % of the total surface of the republic, which amounts to 767.000 km2 (Great Britain: 215.000 km2; The Federal Republic of Germany: 248.000 km2).. The surface of the 19 above mentioned vilayets is 235.000 km2.
The total population of the eastern vilayets was, in 1965, 6,329,000 inhabitants (by addition of the figures concerning these vilayets, according to the official Turkish census of October 24, l965) (1) that of Turkish Kurdistan including the Zara region, but excluding the non-Kurdish districts of the vilayets of Marash, Malatya, Erzurum and Kars, and account being taken of the non-recorded Kurds (2) - amounted, in the same year, to about 6,250,000 inhabitants, or one fifth of the total population of the republic (31,391,000 in 1965). Out of those 6,25 millions, one million inhabitants of Turkish Kurdistan were non-Kurdish elements (16 %), mostly Turks. The Kurdish elements represent, in Turkish Kurdistan, 84 % of the population. On the other hand, in the same year, there were some 1,500,000 more Kurds living amongst the Turks in Turkish Turkey (that is outside Kurdistan, in the central and the western vilayets). The followings table will give a better illustration of the statistical situation:
Population / 1965 / %to Pop of Turkey / Estimations for 1970
Population of the Republic / 31.391.000 / 100.00% / 35.516.000
Pop, of Turkish Kurdistan / 6.250.000 / 19.90 / 7.071.000
Kurds of Turkish Kurdistan / 5.250.000 / 16.73 / 5.940.000
Non-Kurds of Turkish Kurdistan / 1.000.000 / 3.17 / 1.131.000
Kurds of Turkish Turkey / 1.500:000 / 4.77 / 1.697.000
Kurds of the Republic / 6.750.000 / 21.50 / 7.637.000
The figures of this table concerning the Kurdish population were taken from my French manuscript" The Civilisation of Kurdistan: Genesis, Annals and Evolution of the Kurdish Nation" (3). Space is lacking to justify them in the present survey - but I did that fully in that work. My estimation of the total population of Turkey for 1970 (since the official results of the census of 1970 are not yet published) is based on the result of 1965, knowing that the annual increase rate of the population of the republic was calculated by the United Nations to be 2.5 % (4). So, out of some 35.5 million representing the total population of Turkey in 1970, there are, in all, about 7.6 million Kurds (both in Kurdistan and Turkish Turkey), II goes without saying that, because of the policy of national oppression, the official Turkish statistics give exceedingly lower figures for the Kurdish population, which ...
(1) See “Census of Population”, by the State Institute of Statistics, Ankara 1969, publication Nr. 568
(2) Estimated by me to be about 100.000 inhabitants. The official Turkish statistics ignore the non-recorded elements, but they do exist, specially in Kurdistan.
(3) The original French title being "La civilisation du Kurdistan: gene se, fastes et devenir de la nation kurde"; about 500 pp., to be edited.
(4) Cf. "Annuaire démografique 1967", p.1-08, by the United Nations.