With the population of Kurds being around 30 million they are one of the largest people groups without a nation. A Kurdish saying “No friends but the mountains” is a sad and yet accurate truth. While facing external threats the Kurds found refuge and protection from their enemies in the mountains.
During the splitting of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the Kurds had hopes for an independent state. Although instead the people without a homeland now find themselves as a buffer between the surrounding nations of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.
Even with there tragic history the Kurds are resilient. They stay kind and have hosted 10 of thousands of displaced people groups from surrounding countries within their borders. With their army the “Peshmerga”, translated to “The ones who face death” is a strong force who has fought and defended cities from the hands of ISIS. This army is unique for this region not only allowing men but woman to fight by there side. ISIS fighters are intimidated by these strong ladies, believing if they are killed by a woman they will not enter paradise. The Kurds value freedom and have developed religious tolerance in their region.
In one of the surrounding countries of Turkey it is said that around 20 percent of the population is Kurdish. With the Kurdish people living in parts of Northern Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey they have faced backlash in attempts to find independence, facing hardship along the way. Although they continued to fight for what they believe.
The pain from a genocide less then 40 years ago still is felt among the Kurdish people. The attack and hate for the Kurds was carried out by Saddam Hussan and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid during the late 1980’s. Since the comprehension, it’s been reported that roughly 182,000 Kurds died by the hands of the regime. Boy’s and men ages 15-50 years old who were deemed, “the battle age” were captured and brought to mass graves where they were executed, by being shot in the back. Thousands of women and children were brought to internment camps, where they vanished there. Their deaths were brought on by starvation or execution.
It was the Kurdish holocaust. On March 16, 1988 a chemical attack was dropped on the city of Halabja killing an estimated 3,200 and some say roughly 5,000 were innocent woman and children. The after math of the mustard gas is still felt nearly 29 years later. A decade later a report stated the amount of down syndrome babies born doubled, cases for leukemia tripled and the number of still born babies out numbered the number of live births.
The Kurds have been caught between nations at war and have felt the sting, pain, and horror inflicted. Just recently a referendum vote was taken on September 25, 2017. Even with this vote being an opinion poll, the Kurds have felt the affects from the surrounding nations. With the airport being shut down and Iraq demanding control of their borders. We continue to wait to see what will transpire as the Kurds take a stand once again for their homeland.