chapter  6
25 Pages

Taking to the streets! Kurdish collective action in Turkey

ByKARIANE WESTRHEIM

For almost thirty years, the international community has experienced an increasing popular mobilisation of the Kurds in Turkey and many European countries. Regular instances of mobilisation, such as mass demonstrations, popular protests and uprisings, funerals of Kurdish political activists, cultural festivals, and Newroz1 celebrations, have become sites where ordinary Kurdish people articulate their political demands for the recognition of their national identity and culture. In the past decade, the number of collective participants in Newroz-celebrations has increased significantly, and it is not unusual for over a million people to attend. Popular Kurdish mobilisation has been taking place at a time of conflict and war that resulted in significant human and material loss during the past 20 years. It is widely known that in the past decade – in parallel with the changing political situation in Turkey – the Kurdish political landscape has also experienced significant changes. However, such changes have neither brought an end to the prosecution and suppression of Kurdish political activists by the state authorities in Turkey, nor halted political resistance, activism, and instances of civil disobedience by Kurdish political activists and ordinary people at the grassroots level.2