Skip to main content

How ‘Kurdistan’ became illegal in Turkey, again

The Turkey of 2013 and the Turkey of 2017 are very different places, which is why uttering the word “Kurdistan” is once again a punishable offense in the parliament.
FILE PHOTO: Osman Baydemir, spokesman for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), addresses members of parliament from his party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey April 18, 2017. Picture taken April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo - RC1730D15E80

An interesting episode unfolded Dec. 13 in the Turkish parliament as Osman Baydemir, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) representing the province of Sanliurfa, took the rostrum and began talking about his and his party's “mission.”

“I, as a Kurd, as a representative of Kurdistan,” he said at one point, “I believe I have a role, a mission to make this roof the common roof of the Turk and Kurd.” Baydemir could not continue much beyond that, as Deputy Speaker Aysenur Bahcekapili from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) asked Baydemir to stop talking, muted his microphone, and then asked him, “Where is Kurdistan? There is no such region in Turkey.” Baydemir responded, “It is right here,” thumping the left side of his chest, over his heart. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.