70 percent of Kurdish youths face discrimination, research shows

Kurds celebrating their traditional feast Newroz that means 'new day' in Kurdish. File Photo

Seventy percent of Kurdish youths in Turkey encounter discrimination in their daily lives, according to joint research conducted by the Rawest Research Center, the Yaşama Dair Vakıf (YADA Foundation) and the Kurdish Studies Center.

According to the research results, which were published by a number Turkish media outlets, migration and discrimination are intertwined as Kurdish youngsters who have migrated to the western part of the country experience more discrimination.

The research also said that Kurdish youngsters who are alienated from Turkish society identify as Muslim, Kurdish and activist. Reha Ruhavioğlu from Rawest said Kurdish young people were not happy living in Turkey and that their general level of happiness was lower than the Turkish average.

“When we think about what the Kurds have been through socially and politically in the last five years, this is not surprising,” said Ruhavioğlu. ” Kurds living in the western part of the country in particular are unhappier because they encounter more discrimination.”

Kurdish youngsters living in western cities, where they are minorities, are reminded of their Kurdish identity daily and are made to feel like foreigners, according to Ruhavioğlu. This is why they feel in between identities.

The research found that only 13 percent of Kurdish youngsters said they did not encounter discrimination.

The research also said nearly half of Kurdish youngsters who were part of the research did not want a Turkish partner and that the high levels of discrimination led Kurdish young people to draw a barrier between themselves and the rest of society.

“Turkish television has also contributed to this situation,” said Ruhavioğlu. “In recent years there has been more negative stereotyping of Kurds in the media and social media, which has marginalized Kurds even further.”

Kurds do not use Kurdish in public spaces, and many Kurds in big cities see this as a problem. “Kurds who live in western cities do not want to clash with rising Turkish nationalism so they prefer not to speak Kurdish among themselves in public,” said Ruhavioğlu. “Speaking their mother tongue appears to be a great need for Kurdish youngsters.”

Prohibitions against the use of Kurdish in Turkey go back many years. Kurdish language, clothing, folklore and names had been banned since 1937. The words “Kurds,” “Kurdistan” and “Kurdish” were among those officially prohibited. After a military coup in 1980, speaking Kurdish was officially forbidden even in private life.

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