The Implications of Turkey’s Renewed War on the Kurds


' Their response to eliminate the Armenian problem was to attempt the elimination of the Armenians themselves.' (Photo: Ottoman newspaper İkdam on 4 November 1918)
‘Their response to eliminate the Armenian problem was to attempt the elimination of the Armenians themselves.’ (Photo: Ottoman newspaper İkdam on 4 November 1918)

One hundred years ago, the leaders of the Ottoman government were paranoid that Armenians’ demand for reform, improved legislation, civil rights, and protection of life and property in the historic Armenian provinces would lead to Armenian independence, and thus the breakup of the empire. Their response to eliminate the Armenian problem was to attempt the elimination of the Armenians themselves. The civilian Armenian population that disappeared from the state was about 10 percent of the total population.

One hundred years later, Turkey’s leaders are paranoid that the demands of another minority population—for education in their own language, self-rule, and local autonomy—will lead to independence and the breakup of the state. However, it is not easy to eliminate the Kurdish problem by eliminating the Kurds, as they make up one-third of the population in Turkey; they also form the majority of the population in the eastern and southeastern provinces. Instead, the government has employed tactics to break the will of the general Kurdish population by “cleansing the region from Kurdish militants,” isolating them town by town, street by street, and house by house.

The result has been the huge suffering and loss of the civilian population. For the past several weeks, there have been ongoing curfews imposed in seven southeastern provinces. Electricity, water, and essential services have been cut off. One or two bakeries have been allowed to stay open, but people get shot when they venture out of their homes to get bread—the police and the troops shoot anyone that ventures out into the streets. Civilian losses are in the hundreds if not thousands, and include women, children, and the elderly.

The state and the state-controlled media do not report these civilian killings, or merely report them as “killed terrorists.” In fact, the government uses the rather cryptic phrase “terrorists made ineffective” when referring to these killings. Among the civilians shot as terrorists are a 5-month-old baby, pregnant women, and an 80-year-old elder. The bodies of civilians shot in the streets lie there for several days, as it is impossible to remove them under the barrage of gunfire from the police and army troops. The bodies of those shot in their houses cannot be removed for burial, as people cannot leave their homes; the dead bodies are kept in freezers hooked to generators or wrapped in nylon bags. The morgues at the hospitals are so full that there are reports of hospital kitchen freezers being used to store the bodies, with the stench spreading through the building.

Destruction in the heavily Kurdish-populated Sur district of Diyarbakir
Destruction in the heavily Kurdish-populated Sur district of Diyarbakir

One of the worse areas of suffering is the historic central municipality of Sur in Diyarbakir, where the recently reconstructed Armenian Surp Giragos Church is located. This municipality is recognized as a cultural heritage site, with many historic buildings, churches, and mosques. It is now mostly in ruins. Most of the buildings have been destroyed by rockets and cannon fire from army tanks. The Surp Giragos Church has escaped relatively unscathed with only broken windows and some bullet holes. But the Armenian Catholic Church had its doors broken down and some internal damage. The most important mosque in Sur, the historic Kursunlu Mosque—originally the St. Theodoros or Toros Armenian Church, converted to a mosque in the 16th century—has been completely burned down.

The population of Sur has gone down from 24,000 to only 2,000 in the past month. None of the shops and restaurants remain open in the lively, bustling center of Diyarbakir, now completely deserted. Several shops that were recently returned to the ownership of the Surp Giragos Church after successful negotiations and court cases are now shuttered, with loss of revenue to the church. Ironically, the government has just announced that the bullet-ridden and burnedhistoric buildings of Sur will all be expropriated and demolished, to be replaced by modern housing to be constructed by the government’s urban renewal agency.

Why are these events critical to the Armenians?

Firstly, there are untold numbers of “hidden Armenians” among the suffering Kurdish civilian population in these eastern and southeastern provinces. Whatever hell their grandparents went through 100 years ago, these hidden, Islamized Armenians are suffering a similar fate now. The ones who recently “came out” and revealed their Armenian identities are perhaps suffering even more.

Secondly, the hatred toward Armenians among the Turkish population, and especially in the Turkish security forces, has come out in the open during these blockades and attacks on the Kurdish population. The brainwashing, discrimination, and hatred against Armenians in the media, education system, and in government circles are apparent in the announcements from the Turkish police loudspeakers that taunt the Kurdish public and militants with pronouncements like: “You are all Armenians, you are all Armenian bastards,” or “You will all die, seeds of Armenians.”

Diyarbakir’s Surp Giragos Armenian Church after suffering minor damages following clashes
Diyarbakir’s Surp Giragos Armenian Church after suffering minor damages following clashes

Thirdly, and more ominously, the possibility of a proxy war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is increasing greatly, and is linked to these events. The war on the Kurds in Turkey is connected to preventing Kurdish moves for autonomy in Syria and Iraq. Increasing evidence of connections, cooperation, or—at a minimum—complicity between Turkey and ISIS has resulted in increasingly dangerous steps being taken by the Turkish leaders to cover up the evidence. Journalists who uncovered evidence of arms flowing from Turkey to ISIS have been jailed or even killed. Russian, Norwegian, and international evidence of oil flowing from ISIS to Turkey resulted in a downed Russian jet. One of the retaliatory moves by Russia was the installation of the most advanced antiaircraft weaponry in Armenia, with instructions to shoot down any Turkish jet that crosses the Turkish-Armenian border. And the potential for war involving several countries in the region keeps increasing.

Raffi Bedrosyan

Raffi Bedrosyan

Raffi Bedrosyan is a civil engineer, writer and a concert pianist, living in Toronto. Proceeds from his concerts and CDs have been donated to the construction of school, highways, and water and gas distribution projects in Armenia and Karabakh—projects in which he has also participated as a voluntary engineer. Bedrosyan was involved in organizing the Surp Giragos Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd Church reconstruction project. His many articles in English, Armenian and Turkish media deal with Turkish-Armenian issues, Islamized hidden Armenians and history of thousands of churches left behind in Turkey. He gave the first piano concert in the Surp Giragos Church since 1915, and again during the 2015 Genocide Centenary Commemoration. He is the founder of Project Rebirth, which helps Islamized Armenians return to their original Armenian roots, language and culture. He is the author of the book "Trauma and Resilience: Armenians in Turkey - hidden, not hidden, no longer hidden."
Raffi Bedrosyan

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  1. In World War I, it was the Armenians who suffered genocide. In World War II, it was the Jews. In World War III it may be the Kurds.

  2. In WWI the ottomaniacs lost most of their colonial empire.

    In WWII they abstained.

    In WWIII, which they might cause, they will lose the remainder of their colonies, Kurdistan.

  3. Attacks on Kurdish civilians, men, women and children are unjustifiable. But Turkey has a right to defend itself from PKK terrorism. By the way, a majority of Kurds are against the PKK and separatism. You also have a couple of AKP ministers who are Kurds (Mehmet Simsek, Huseyin Celik, Binali Yildirim, Mehdi Eker and Hakan Fidan for instance). Also, the CHP party leader is a Zaza. Even Ismet Inonu and Turgut Ozal, Presidents of Turkey, are Kurds. Some of the most wealthiest business moguls in Turkey are Kurds. Heck, many of my cousins are 1/2 Kurd too. Even though the AKP regime is following a wrong and awful strategy in combating seperatism and made some dumb decisions concerning the 2013 peace process, Turkey, as a Multi Ethnic Country, has a right to protect its territorial unity at all cost.

    • Turks don’t have any legitimate territory in Turkey that is theirs to have the right to protect it. Turkish territory is in Central Asia and NOT in Asia Minor and beyond. There is nothing in Turkey that is of Turkish origin either.

      Your current president Erdogan, who became president through con games and terrorism, acts as the voice of the so-called “oppressed” Muslim World while his own illegally established country on the lands of indigenous Armenians and others has been oppressing the native Christians for centuries, not to mention destroying ancient Armenian churches predating any Turkish presence on occupied Armenian lands, conducting blasphemous acts by converting many Armenian churches into mosques by erecting minarets on Armenian church grounds, taking the Holy Sea of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Basillica of Hagia Sophia hostage since 1453, turning it into a mosque and now using it as a museum and a tourist site to fatten the Turkish treasury to project a false “benevolent” Turkish image abroad.

      What Turkish territory are you talking about when you have no right to be on the lands you govern?

    • {….Turkey, as a Multi Ethnic Country, has a right to protect its territorial unity at all cost.}

      The unnatural State of Turkey founded on crime – invasion, theft, forcible conversion, mass murder – and Genocide, has no rights.
      Turkey “Multi Ethnic” ? Then where are the indigenous peoples of Asia Minor: Armenians, Assyrians, Pontic Greeks.
      Millions of them: how did they vanish.

      And the notion that Kurds in Turkey allegedly do not support PKK was debunked when HDP won 13% in June 2015 Parliamentary vote.
      If Kurds at large did not support PKK, it would have disappeared long ago. No guerrilla movement can last 30+ years without the support of its people.

      One way or another, the unnatural, criminal state founded by invading Turkic tribes from Uyguristan on the bones of exterminated indigenous peoples of Asia Minor will fracture. Kurds will have Kurdistan. Or, by around 2040, Kurds will become majority in the state of Turkey: Turks will then get a taste of their own medicine.

      btw: when Nazis invaded countries, there were always collaborators. It’s no surprise that there are Kurds who collaborate with their oppressors.

    • Turkey also has a history of taking categorical action against entire minority groups. From violence and destruction to confiscation of property to limiting their freedoms and liberties. Turkey has always been a place of extreme contradictions.

      “at all cost” means targeting civilians to too many people.

    • {You also have a couple of AKP ministers who are Kurds (….and Hakan Fidan for instance).

      MIT head Hakan Fidan: great example of a criminal Kurd collaborator.
      Fidan organized the sarin gas attack that murdered about 1,000 Syrian civilians a couple of years ago.

      MIT also organized two terrorist bombings of peaceful Kurds: Suruç and Ankara. About 200 young Kurds were murdered. Scores more maimed for life.

  4. The criminals are godless can do anything …
    Their moto is to kill, confiscate, rape, lie, deny …
    They are protected by civilized, godless goverments
    calling them their allies …

  5. Thank you bedrosyan for this article andm many others…
    Why BBC and many sites they don’t give such news …
    covering Ottoman crimes…
    Why Why Why…and many whys…????

  6. unfortunatly state terrorist is meaningless at political world. why the fan of human right and some politicians that recieved nobel prize for defence of human right are mute rather than kurds? Must be noticed that articulation of Human Right is just lie to humanity. Massacre, brutality, offence, famine and barbarian behaviour dont have any reaction by who are contend to protect of man right.

  7. Whatever is going on in Turkey, a repeat of the genocide against the Kurds must not happen. Turkey must learn to live with its minorities!

  8. Turkey is indulging in dangerous tactics by attacking the Kurdish population. A repeat of the Armenian genocide will dangerously leave the Turks and minorities divided. It’s foolish this attack on Kurds!


  10. “One hundred years ago, the leaders of the Ottoman government were paranoid that Armenians’ demand for reform, improved legislation, civil rights, and protection of life and property in the historic Armenian provinces would lead to Armenian independence, and thus the breakup of the empire. Their response to eliminate the Armenian problem was to attempt the elimination of the Armenians themselves.”

    I don’t agree. the main purpose of the Armenian Genocide was theft of wealth and property. By that point, the brutal oppressive criminal Ottoman empire was a shell of what used to be. And TAXES coming from all the oppressed empire ceased. the ONLY NON turkish people living in Anatolia were the original Armenian Greeks and Assyrians. So in 1915 the Turks decided upon genocide and carried it out. It was for MONEY.

  11. Last thing: As an Armenian why should any of us care about the Kurds? the Kurds are a race that did some of the most horrific raping and theft and murdering of the Armenian race in conjunction with Muslim Turks. Its only now realizing and crying foul. Good.

  12. No, the Turks were not “paranoid” about Armenians in WW 2.

    Turks simply wanted to cleanse the empire of Christians and anyone in the way of Turkey’s Pan-Turkic thrust to the east.

  13. Nations that Thrive on injustice do not last there is a god who judges And the Christians will rule and reign with Jesus
    Who receives all who call on him. This time is a test to determine how we all will spend eternity and nations are just temporary auditions to determine permanent roles In
    heaven or hell. Nations like turkey that reject truth will be judged by the same Jesus they violate as they abuse his people.h

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