Kurdistan spoke up on 25 September 2017
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Amed Demirhan

Kurdistan spoke up on 25 September 2017

The current Middle East regimes were created after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the world war I, by the Allied power British, French, Italian, Russian and Associate Powers. This system eliminated Kurds and Kurdistan from political maps the first time in the history. Made Kurdish patriotism, being Kurds or mentioning Kurdistan illegal while empowering new regimes with killing machines since then. Therefore, we need to examine the creation of the system to understand the current problem and reaction to the referendum of Kurdistan Region, which is one of the most peaceful and democratic expression of the will of people of Kurdistan. At the same time, this will help us to better understand the courage and iron will of Kurdistan leadership standing for the will of people of Kurdistan despite nearly global hostility.

Part of Kurdistan had joined Ottoman “voluntary”, and other part become a military ally by a treaty since 1515. The treaty was signed between “Kings of Kurdistan and The Sultan of the Ottoman.  Therefore, despite all the conflicts Kurdistan had more privileged relationships with the House of the Ottoman than any other nation in the Empire or surrounding. The Kurdistan geography and history was part of both military and civilian schools’ curriculum. According to the Ottoman Geographer the following provinces and sub provinces were exclusively in Kurdistan while some districts in neighboring provinces were Kurdish: Erzurum, Bitlis, El Azizt (Mamuratel Aziz) Diyabakir, Van, Mosul, and Sub Province of Zor as shown in the following marked area of the map. (The yellow marker points to Kurdish districts in other provinces)

Kiepert, Heinrich (1884) Aperçu général de la division administrative des provinces asiatiques de l'empire ottoman selon le dénombrement officiel contenu dans le Sãlnãmé pour l'année 1300 de l'hégire (1883-1884). D. Reimer, Berlin (This is from Harvard University Library)

After defeat of the of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Enver Pasha, the head of the Ottoman Government and General Commander of the Armed Forces starting from 5th October 1918 informed the USA government that his government will accept surrender based on American President Woodrow Wilson 14 points. Eventual Enver Pasha was replaced by Ahmed Izzet Pasha as new Prime Minister and Commander of Armed Forces. The new Prime Minister on 19th October 1918 submitted his program to the Ottoman Parliament. Among his proposal again was accepting the President Wilson 14 point for peace with the allied/victorious powers of the World War I, with ten absentee 121 yes votes for approval by the Parliament with no opposition. The upper Chamber (Ayan Meclisi) of the parliament approved new government proposal, too. The Ottoman Government signed the “Armistice of Mudros” in a British Ship in a Greek Island port on 30 October 1918.

The 14 points of President Wilson was designed for post-world war order or reorganization of the world. The point number 12 was particularly related to the Ottoman Empire. It sates: “The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of an autonomous development, …” The Ottoman war government of Enver Pasha, post War Government of Izzet Pasha and the parliament accepted the creation of an autonomous/independent Kurdistan among other nations.

The 14-point become the bases of the Treaty of Sèvres, signed in France by the allied powers and Ottoman Government on 10th August 1920. The articles 62, 63, and 64 were specifically related to Kurdistan independence, referendum, and possible unification of part of Mosul Vilayet with the independent Kurdistan.  The content of the above treaty is reflected on the following Map which referendum/ plebiscite and independent Kurdistan are underlined by the author.

Map of 1920 Treaty of Sèvres obtained from Library of Congress Map section

The victors of WWI decided to have another conference to design the new regimes of the Middle East. Three years later they signed the “Treaty of Lausanne” on the 24th of July 1923, the following map reflect the treaty, Kurds and Kurdistan politically and legally were eliminated.

For the first time, it was then when the Kurds and Kurdistan were removed from regional and global maps, atlases, books, and other media. The Kurds and Kurdistan were criminalized. Since then, millions of Kurds have been killed, tortured, jailed, deported, and systematically mistreated. Education of Kurds on Kurds were prohibited unless adhered to new hostile system. Books and writing in Kurdish in most countries were prohibited but states-sponsored anti-Kurdish propaganda have been widespread across the globe. Post Lausanne treaty literary created a global institutional racism against Kurds and Kurdistan because as a Kurd or Kurdistan/i no one could participate in any state or international institution.  This is continuing in most countries till today.

The Leader of Kurdistan referendum Masoud Barzani in his new book states: “The Kurds experienced so many tragedies because in the establishment of the Iraqi State, the Kurds were forced to live in this state”. The referendum that promised for Kurdistan on 10th August 1920 was never implemented and since then the Kurds and Kurdistani people were never allowed to express their wishes in in most peaceful and democratic manners. On 25 September 2017 until last minutes the regional and some global powers pressured and even threatened Kurdistan leadership to stop people of Kurdistan to express their wishes. Thank you, God, the lion-heart and Iron will of Masoud Barzani lead people of Kurdistan to speak to the world their desire for the Independent Kurdistan which more than 92% of the total participants said yes to independent. It was peaceful and democratic, and the people of Kurdistan exercised their constitutional right despite that Kurdistan was attacked. The will of millions of peaceful Kurdistanis and their rights were disregarded. Kurdish blood was shed, tens of thousands of civilian Kurds were forced out of their homes in most inhumane way and many cities of Kurdistan become occupied before the eyes of the world. Yet, Kurdistan prevailed nearly after 100 years; the whole world learned what our people wants and how their will was treated. Since 1920s, Kurdistan freedom movement managed three significant victories: one by signing the treaty of 11 March 1970 when Kurdistan was legally and politically re-instated in the map and Kurdish rights were recognized in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq thanks to Mustafa Barzani; the second time was when the Kurdistan constitutional rights were enshrined in 2005 Iraqi constitution under leadership of Masoud Barzani; and the third one the 25th September 2017 when the independent referendum was held under the leadership of Masoud Barzani. These three events showed to the world powers that despite all the hostilities since 1923, the Kurds would not retreat from their natural rights. Thanks to the Iron will of Masoud Barzani, now we can celebrate 25th September as our day of unity and victory.

Amed Demirhan MLIS., MADR
Multiple award winning Librarian, polyglots, holds a Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI), a Master of Arts degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), and a BA in International Studies with a minor in Spanish (USM).  


1 Ahmed CEMAL (1893), Mufasa Coğrafya-yı Osmânî.  Mekteb-i Fünûn]-I Harbiye Matbaası, [The Ottoman Geography in detail Istanbul [Military printing press] (Pp. 181 – 194]; Hüseyin Hüsni, (1894) Taksîmât-ı Düvel-i Müsta’merat-ı Millîyi Hâvî Coğrafya-yı Umûmî ve Muhtasar Coğrafya-yı Osmânî, [General Geography and the Ottoman Geography] Osmanlı Matbaası, [Ottoman publisher] Istanbul (Pp. 84 – 88), and Biçer, Bekir (2019) Osmanlıların Coğrafya Kitaplarında Kürtler ve Kürdistan. [Kurds and Kurdistan in the ottoman geography books] Çizgi Kitabevi, 

Istanbul (Pp.66 – 77)

2 Kiepert, Heinrich (1884) Aperçu général de la division administrative des provinces asiatiques de l'empire ottoman selon le dénombrement officiel contenu dans le Sãlnãmé pour l'année 1300 de l'hégire (1883-1884). D. Reimer, Berlin (This is from Harvard University Library)

3 Mondros : T.C. Genelkurmay Başkanlığı. (1962). TÜRK İSTİKLAL HARBİ I Mondros Mütarekesi ve Tatbikatı. Ankara: Genelkurmay Başkanlığı. (P.28) 

4Ibd. (P. 29)

5 Ibd Pp. 41 - 44

6 https://theworldwar-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/prod/s3fs-public/1982.170.18_excerpt.jpg

7 “THE FOURTEEN POINTS Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. Rejection of the Treaty of Versailles”

NATIONAL WWI MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL Retrieved from https://www.theworldwar.org/learn/peace/fourteen-points  21/09/2021    

8 Hurewitz, J. C. (1987). Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: A documentary record; 1535-1956. Gerrards Cross: Archives Ed. (P. 82) and Allied and Associated Powers (1914-1920), Martin, L., & Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (1924). the treaties of peace, 1919-1923. New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Vol. II. (Pp. 807 -8)

9 Allied and Associated Powers (1914-1920), Martin, L., & Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (1924). the treaties of peace, 1919-1923. New York: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Vol. II. (figure 14)

10 Barzani, Mesud “Tarihe Not” Avesta yayinlari Istanbul 2021 [Barzani Mesud Note for history]

11 Chulov, Martin (2017, September 28) Guardian “More than 92% of voters in Iraqi Kurdistan back independence” 

Retrieved 21 September, 2021 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/27/over-92-of-iraqs-kurds-vote-for-independence

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