Helin Newroz Boztosun is a 23-year-old history and English graduate living in London. The following are excerpts from her March 20, 2018 article headlined "The Massacres and Oppression of the Kurds in 20th Century Turkey".

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The 20th century was one of the most destructive eras in Kurdish history. While you may be aware of the current Kurdish-Turkish conflict, such as Turkey’s recent attacks on Afrin, Syria, most of you probably don’t know of their historical campaigns against the Kurds, and other minorities for that matter, until now. Although my focus here is the brutality that Kurds have suffered since the birth of modern Turkey, especially during the Zeylân and Dersim massacres, it’s worth mentioning that the Kurdish-Turkish conflict actually emerged during the Ottoman Empire.

....Rather than accepting the Kurds as a separate ethnic group, Atatürk’s government denied their existence – labelling them ‘mountain Turks’ instead – and sought to systematically ‘Turkify’ the Kurds through forced assimilation and official prohibition of their culture, such as the banning of Kurdish schools, organisations and publications in 1924. It is perhaps these words of Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Mahmut Bozkurt, reported in the Milliyet newspaper dated 19th September 1930, that best reflects the attitude of the government towards Kurds and other minorities:

‘The Turks are the only lords of this country, its only owners. Those who are not of pure Turkish stock have in this country only one right, that of being servants, of being slaves. Let friend and foe, and even the mountains know this truth.’...

In July 1930, Turkish forces began their ethnic cleansing of the Zeylân valley, targeting not only rebels but all Kurds. The region was showered with firebombs by air forces and surrounded by thousands of Turkish soldiers, trapping the Kurds there. Men, women and children were all slaughtered, regardless of age. The government’s intentions were made clear beyond doubt in a report by the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, dated 13th July 1930:

‘Cleaning started: those in the Zeylân valley have been completely exterminated. Not one of them survived. The operation in Ağri continues.’

There are various eyewitness accounts of the massacre from surviving Kurds and Turkish soldiers who were involved. Collectively, these accounts detail how the soldiers had shot, stabbed, beaten, and burnt to death thousands of Kurds; how they had cut open pregnant women and removed their unborn babies; how they had skinned villagers alive; and how thousands more were killed by machine gun fire, causing blood to flow out of the valley for days. Many of the surviving Kurds had hidden under corpses during the massacre. At least 44 villages had been burned to the ground and between 15,000 and 47,000 Kurds had been killed or disappeared, according to local and official sources. At the end of the massacre, the Zeylân valley was ‘filled to the mouth with corpses,’ as the Cumhuriyet announced on 16th July 1930. By mid-September that year, the Ararat Rebellion had been crushed and the young Kurdish Republic of Ararat was disbanded....

As I mentioned in the intro, it was the Turkish government’s aim to assimilate (Turkify) the Kurds, as well as other minorities, into Turkish culture and entirely destroy the Kurdish identity. To that end, Kurdish language, folklore and dress had been banned, along with the words ‘Kurd’ and ‘Kurdistan.’ On top of this, the government passed the Resettlement Law and the Surname Law in June 1934. Essentially, the Resettlement Law allowed for the destruction of Kurdish villages and migration of their inhabitants to areas of the country in which Turkish culture and language was predominant, where they would be forced to integrate; the Surname Law banned the use of non-Turkish surnames and demanded that the Kurds adopt Turkish surnames. Dispersing millions of Kurds as the government saw fit was an ambitious plan, and one that mostly failed because it was unrealistic in practice. The collective measures that were employed for the purpose of Turkification were, as can be expected, met with much resistance. The most defiant region was Dersim, an area that the government had previously failed to exert greater control over on several occasions. It had, by now, attracted most of their attention.....

The Turkish army, with over 50,000 troops, slaughtered men, women and children indiscriminately yet again. Bombs were dropped from the skies and entire villages were burned down and destroyed. The grounds where homes once stood were burnt with kerosene so that they could not be returned to. Families that escaped and hid in caves were killed en masse with chemical weapons, or with the burning of wood at cave entrances to suffocate them. If these measures didn’t work, the caves were demolished with explosives or sealed up, leaving those trapped in there to die. Many girls and women were tortured and raped, and others had avoided capture by throwing themselves off of cliffs. Those who surrendered were gathered together; the men were shot on the spot while women and children were locked in hay sheds that were then set on fire. Even young men from Dersim who were off doing their military service in the Turkish army were killed.... (End excerpts)

P.S. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey, led Turkish nationalists in the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923). He rejected the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) which was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Unlike the former treaty, the latter made no mention of an independent Kurdish state.

Source: https://www.hausofhelin.com/single-p.../30/maootkitct