Survey reveals alienation of Kurdish youth in Turkey

Survey reveals alienation of Kurdish youth in Turkey
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Turkish police search Kurdish youths during a security operation in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey. A survey says the youths feel that they are being discriminated. (AP/File)
Survey reveals alienation of Kurdish youth in Turkey
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Turkey-backed Syrian fighters break open the front door of a house at a position that they are holding in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain, in this file photo taken on October 19, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 21 December 2020

Survey reveals alienation of Kurdish youth in Turkey

Survey reveals alienation of Kurdish youth in Turkey
  • Majority of young Kurds feel deprived of their language and would be happy to emigrate

ANKARA: A survey conducted by YADA Foundation, Kurdish Studies Center and Rawest Research Company reveals the growing alienation of the Kurdish youth in Turkey.

The survey, which was carried out with support of the British Embassy and the Heinrich Boll Stiftung, was conducted in Istanbul, Izmir, southern Mersin and Adana, southeastern Diyarbakir, Mardin, Sanliurfa and eastern Van provinces with more than 1,500 young people between 15 to 29 ages.

Kurdish youth appeared pessimistic, with a lower rate of happiness and life satisfaction compared to the rest of the society. Those who live in the western half of Turkey feel much more pessimistic due to the discrimination they face.

Besides supporting the national team, they feel strongly attached to Amedspor, the football team of Kurdish-majority Diyarbakir province, as a symbol of their identity.

Over half of Kurdish youth have been internally displaced in Turkey generally with their families whether in search of employment, fleeing fighting between the state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and/or for education purposes.

Almost 70 percent of the Kurdish respondents say they have been subject to occasional or frequent discrimination because of their Kurdish identity. Those who are voters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) experienced more discrimination than supporters of other political parties.

Some of the respondents said that they were prevented from renting a house when they were asked about their city of origin, or they couldn’t buy even a bottle of water when they attended an Amedspor match in a western province of the country.

In a similar pattern, players of Amedspor have been frequently exposed to harassment by rival fans, while the team’s Kurdish supporters were occasionally banned from attending matches.

Kurdish youth increasingly use Turkish in their daily communication with friends and family members after years of crackdown on cultural rights and after failed attempts to make Kurdish language as part of the educational system.

FASTFACT

Kurdish youth appeared pessimistic, with a lower rate of happiness and life satisfaction compared to the rest of the society.

Kurdish respondents say they cannot even dream in Kurdish.

According to another survey, only about 18 percent of the 600 young Kurds surveyed could speak, read and write in Kurdish.

Kurds make up about 20 percent of Turkey’s population of 82 million. But the survey found that only a third of Kurdish youth are employed, while a quarter are working as unskilled labourers and the rest are unemployed.

Their mother tongue is the top priority issue (38.4 percent) among Kurdish youth, followed by discrimination (24 percent), education (12.5 percent), unemployment (9.8 percent), freedom of speech (7.4 percent), injustice (5.5. percent) and identity (2.4 percent).

Regarding the failure of the short-lived “Kurdish peace talks” between the Turkish state and the PKK in 2015, Kurdish youth who are pro-HDP blame both their party and the PKK for the failed peace attempts, while 65 percent think that the infighting will never end.

The survey also found that the majority of Kurdish youth is inclined to de-radicalize while they consolidate their cultural identities as Kurds.

Roj Girasun, director of Diyarbakir-based Rawest Research, thinks that Kurdish youth is being de-radicalized because they are satisfied with the increased visibility of the HDP on the political arena as a legal actor.

“However, they mostly think that the current government is not able to resolve the decades-long Kurdish conflict in the country,” he told Arab News.

A new party looking to appeal to Kurdish conservative youth is launching soon, although the opposition claims it intends to divide Kurdish votes in Turkey.

The survey also found that, given the chance, the majority of Kurdish youth would emigrate to Western countries out of pessimism over both freedom of expression and employment.

While Twitter is a source of information for about 30 percent nationally, it increases to 44 percent among Kurdish youth.

“It shows 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,” Girasun said.

Although the use of Kurdish is on the decrease among Kurdish youth, they are still holding on to their political identity and demanding more cultural rights from the state authorities to keep their mother tongue alive because those living in the western provinces are increasingly forgetting their Kurdish.

Kurdish culture has generally been demonized over the years, with Kurdish language being categorized as “unknown language” in the judicial system.

“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,” Girasun said.

Apart from such social distancing, the restriction of academia and arts in Kurdish fuels disappointment among Kurdish youth. In July, Turkey’s Council of Higher Education banned students studying Kurdish language and literature at Turkish universities from writing their dissertations in Kurdish, and obliged all dissertations at Kurdish language departments to be written in Turkish.

In October, the Turkish authorities banned a play performed in Kurdish in Istanbul by the Nobel prize-winning Italian writer Dario Fo over the allegations of terror propaganda.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently claimed that “Turkey has no Kurdish issue.”

 


Syria reports Israeli missile attack near capital, Damascus

Syria reports Israeli missile attack near capital, Damascus
Updated 35 min 56 sec ago

Syria reports Israeli missile attack near capital, Damascus

Syria reports Israeli missile attack near capital, Damascus
  • Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations
  • Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line

DAMASCUS: Syrian air defenses were activated in the capital Damascus and its southern suburbs Sunday night to repel an Israeli missile attack, state media reported. There was no word on casualties.
State TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that most of the Israeli missiles were shot down before reaching their targets near Damascus.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
The attack comes after the United States launched airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, targeting facilities near the Iraqi border used by Iranian-backed militia groups.
The Pentagon said the strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a US service member and other coalition troops.


UN calls for children in Syria camps to be allowed home

UN calls for children in Syria camps to be allowed home
Updated 28 February 2021

UN calls for children in Syria camps to be allowed home

UN calls for children in Syria camps to be allowed home
  • UNICEF made its plea a day after three children died in a fire at Al-Hol camp
  • Syria’s Kurds hold thousands of alleged militants in jails and tens of thousands of their family members in camps in northeast Syria

BEIRUT: The UN children’s agency called Sunday for all minors held in displacement camps or jails in northeast Syria to be allowed home.
UNICEF made its plea a day after three children died in a fire at the overcrowded camp of Al-Hol, for people displaced in the fight against Daesh.
After years of leading the US-backed fight against Daesh, Syria’s Kurds hold thousands of alleged militants in jails and tens of thousands of their family members in camps in northeast Syria.
They hail from Syria, neighboring Iraq and dozens of other foreign countries.
Many are children.
“In the northeast of Syria, there are more than 22,000 foreign children from at least 60 nationalities who languish in camps and prisons, in addition to many thousands of Syrian children,” UNICEF regional director Ted Chaiban said in a statement, without giving a number of children held in jails.
He urged authorities in the northeast of Syria and UN member states to “do everything possible to bring children currently in the northeast of Syria back home.”
They should do this “through integrating Syrian children in their local communities and the repatriation of foreign children,” he added.
The Kurdish authorities have started sending thousands of displaced Syrians home from the camps.
But repeated calls for Western countries to repatriate their nationals have largely fallen on deaf ears, with just a handful of children and even fewer women being brought home.
Three children and a woman died on Saturday after a stove exploded in the Al-Hol camp, starting a fire, a Kurdish official said.
The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said at least 26 were injured.
Al-Hol is home to more than 62,000 people, displaced family members and relatives of alleged IS fighters, more than half of them children, it says.
A spate of killings, including decapitations, has rocked the camp since the start of the year, and humanitarian actors have repeatedly deplored living conditions there.
On February 1, the Save the Children charity also urged Iraq and Western countries to repatriate children from northeast Syria faster.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.
Kurdish-led forces backed air strikes by a US-led coalition expelled Daesh from their last patch of territory in Syria in March 2019, in a battle that displaced tens of thousands.


Egypt opens online registration for COVID-19 vaccination

Egypt opens online registration for COVID-19 vaccination
Updated 28 February 2021

Egypt opens online registration for COVID-19 vaccination

Egypt opens online registration for COVID-19 vaccination
  • Text messages will be sent to prompt all those eligible to register for the vaccine as part of the Egyptian president’s initiative to eliminate waiting lists and facilitate the vaccination process

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed announced on Sunday the start of online registration to obtain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination for eligible citizens.

Khaled Mujahid, the ministry’s spokesman, said that registration has begun for eligible groups, including persons with tumors and kidney failure; those who have undergone operations, including open-heart surgery, and kidney and liver operations; and those with cerebral or peripheral catheters.

Text messages will be sent to prompt all those eligible to register for the vaccine as part of the Egyptian president’s initiative to eliminate waiting lists and facilitate the vaccination process.

Mujahid said that offices have been allocated in health units and hospitals across Egypt to register those who are unable to do so online. The spokesman pointed out that the site informs citizens of all details concerning the vaccine and allows them to register their data so that priority is automatically given according to age and chronic disease.

Mujahid said that the categories of people eligible to register on the website are divided into three groups in line with universally recognized priorities. These groups include health workers, those with chronic diseases and the elderly.

He explained that those registering online will have to enter identifying data, including name, ID number and contact information, such as phone number, where a verification code will be sent. Following this, the governorate and nearest health unit where the citizen may be vaccinated are determined.


Iran dismisses idea of talks with EU and US to revive 2015 nuclear deal

Iran dismisses idea of talks with EU and US to revive 2015 nuclear deal
Updated 28 February 2021

Iran dismisses idea of talks with EU and US to revive 2015 nuclear deal

Iran dismisses idea of talks with EU and US to revive 2015 nuclear deal
  • Iran says US must lift all its unilateral sanctions first

DUBAI: Iran on Sunday ruled out holding an informal meeting with the United States and European powers to discuss ways to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, insisting that Washington must lift all its unilateral sanctions.
“Considering the recent actions and statements by the United States and three European powers, Iran does not consider this the time to hold an informal meeting with these countries, which was proposed by the EU foreign policy chief,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to Iranian media.
Iranian officials had said Tehran was studying a proposal by European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to hold an informal meeting with other parties to the nuclear pact and the United States, which reimposed sanctions on Iran after then-president Donald Trump quit the deal in 2018.
Iran and the new US administration of President Joe Biden have been at odds over who should take the first step to revive the accord. Iran insists the United States must first lift sanctions while Washington says Tehran must first return to compliance with the deal, which it has been progressively breaching.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sketched out a potential choreography on Feb. 1 to overcome the impasse.


Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all

Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all
Updated 28 February 2021

Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all

Former Mosul priest: Pope’s Iraq visit a ‘precious gift’ for all
  • ‘Like a dove, he’ll bring a twig of peace to all the people living in this land who’ve suffered for too long,’ priest tells Arab News
  • Pope Francis due to arrive in Baghdad on March 5

ROME: The pope’s upcoming visit to Iraq is a “precious gift” not only for the Christians who live there, but for all those who after years of war want a return to peace and coexistence between religions, a priest who worked for eight years in the diocese of Mosul told Arab News.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Pope Francis is coming … to invite us to all be instruments of peace,” said Fr. Jalal Jako.

“Like a dove, he’ll bring a twig of peace to all the people living in this land who’ve suffered for too long.”

Jako, currently in Italy, will return to Iraq for the pope’s visit, which will begin on March 5.

The priest was born in Qaraqosh, a historic Christian city near Mosul, which is part of the pope’s itinerary.

Jalal Jako visiting a church in Qaraqosh after it was badly damaged by Daesh. (Supplied)

He fled the region in August 2014 along with nearly 150,000 Christians and made his way to Erbil in northern Iraq. There, Jako worked in a refugee camp where he said the conditions for those who had fled the extremists were “terrible.”

When he returned to Qaraqosh three years later, “We found that everything had been destroyed,” he said.

The pope will be welcomed by Iraq’s prime minister in Baghdad and then visit the country’s president at the presidential palace, where he will meet with local authorities, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps.

Pope Francis will also meet with bishops and priests at the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad.

On March 6, he will fly to the city of Najaf and meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. The pope will return to Baghdad that day and celebrate Holy Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph.

On March 7 he will visit Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and meet with religious and civil authorities of the autonomous region. He will also visit the city of Qaraqosh. His return to Rome is scheduled for March 8 from Baghdad.

Jako said: “We can’t fail to be there at such an important moment for us Christians — the first visit of a pope to Iraq. He’ll tell us, ‘No more blood, live all as brothers.’ Thus he’ll send out a message that all the Iraqi people need.”

Jako added: “Pope John Paul II was supposed to come on a pilgrimage in 2000 … but it wasn’t possible for him. Pope Francis is keeping his predecessor’s promise to come to Iraq to visit a Christian community that today has only 500,000 faithful, a third of the number who lived there in 2003. He comes as the leader of a Church that respects all religions and aims to build peace.”