Close to 1,400 children are now called Amed, most living in the city itself. The heroic Seyid Riza’s birthplace, Dersim, is second in popularity after Amed. Photo by Efendi
By KEMAL AVCI
ANKARA, Turkey – A relaxation of official rules in Turkey that banned Kurdish names is seeing a revival of names like Seyid Riza, Ocalan and Amed among the country's large but oppressed Kurdish minority.
A Rudaw study of Turkey’s official statistics website (tuik.gov.tr) shows that 18 children were named Kurdistan in Turkey over the past few years. Families can name their children after Kurdish villages, mountains or revolutionary figures.
Most popular among the names is Seyid Riza, a political leader from Dersim who led a brief Kurdish rebellion in 1937-1938 before he was caught and hanged. More than 208 children have been named Seyid or Seyit Riza.
Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who is serving a life sentence on Turkey’s Imrali island, has also shared his name with 68 newborns, according to the official data.
Barzani and Talabani are also popular names, mainly in the southeastern Kurdish areas.
Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in Turkey -- known by its Kurdish name Amed -- has the lion’s share of new Kurdish names.
Close to 1,400 children are now called Amed, most living in the city itself. The heroic Seyid Riza’s birthplace, Dersim, is second in popularity after Amed.
With the relaxation of laws and the changing political reality in the region, Kurdish families seem to be finally fulfilling the dream of giving their children a name in their mother tongue.
The Rudaw research also found that nearly a dozen families have named their children Rojava, the Kurdish name for Syrian Kurdistan, which is getting ever closer to self-rule than Turkey’s Kurdistan.
Following the foundation of the Turkish republic in 1923 in the wake of the First World War, the Kurdish language was banned in Turkey. Kurds were jailed for speaking their language in public or merely uttering the word Kurdistan.
But in the past few years, under pressure from human rights organizations, ceaseless Kurdish demonstrations and political initiatives, Turkey has relaxed some of the rules. Ankara is also engaged in historic peace talks with the PKK, which has fought a decades-long armed conflict against Turkey for greater Kurdish rights.