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Rudaw

World

Ethnic Kurd Among Presidential Hopefuls in Azerbaijan Polls

By Rudaw 14/9/2013
Suleymanov estimates the number of Azeri Kurds as high as 1 million, but official numbers indicate that today only 13,000 Kurds remain in the country. Photo: Rudaw
Suleymanov estimates the number of Azeri Kurds as high as 1 million, but official numbers indicate that today only 13,000 Kurds remain in the country. Photo: Rudaw

 

By SALIH KAVIRPIRI

BAKU, Azerbaijan – Tahir Suleymanov, an ethnic Kurd running in next month’s presidential election in Azerbaijan, wants to energize not only the small Kurdish community in his own country, but also around the world.

 Suleymanov, 59, who was born and raised in Azerbaijan and is the only Kurdish candidate among 21 hopefuls, said that most of the estimated Azeri Kurds no longer consider themselves Kurdish.

“My primary goal is to energize the Kurdish community in Azerbaijan as well as around the world through my candidacy,” he said.

Suleymanov called on the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq to pledge its support to Kurdish Azeris by building a relationship with the Azerbaijan government. “Having KRG take such a step wouldn’t only benefit the Kurdish community in Azerbaijan, but the Kurds as a whole in the world,” he added.

Suleymanov estimates the number of Azeri Kurds as high as 1 million, but official numbers indicate that today only 13,000 Kurds remain in the country. 

Suleymanov, who has been a teacher and a journalist for a government-affiliated magazine, added that the current Azeri president, Ilham Aliev, has Kurdish roots from Diyarbakir.  
          

Many Kurds ended up in the Caucasus region after the Ottoman-Safavid war of the 15 and 16th centuries.  They were also greatly affected by the waves of deportation by Stalin shortly after the Second World War. 

The expelled Kurds were resettled in the central Asian republicans such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It is believed that many died of disease and starvation. 

Suleymanov said that his family ended up in Armenia where they faced another forceful migration. 

“During the Azerbaijan-Armenia war in 1988, the Kurds in Armenia were considered Azeri due to cultural similarities. So the Armenians forced them to leave their country,” Suleymanov said.

“Most fled to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where they reunited with some of their families that had been expelled to these regions back in 1937.” He added that, a year later, the Kurds were allowed to return to Azerbaijan.

Suleymanov said, “The Kurdish Caucasus had endured unbelievable hardships in the past due to forceful migrations.”

In 2003, Suleymanov started a weekly Kurdish magazine “Diplomata Kurd.” Since then, the magazine has been serving the Kurdish cause in Azeri, Russian and Turkish.

Suleymanov believes that he has the potential to win the election. “I am very well-known to the Azeri Kurdish community and they fully support my candidacy,” he said.

 

Comments

 
Atheist | 15/9/2013
On the subject of there are many more Kurds in Azerbaijan than what is officially stated: I bet if we do large scale DNA fingerprinting of Middle East and Eurasia, we'll find a 10-times more Kurds, genetically speaking, than the number who identify themselves as Kurds. Large-scale DNA fingerprinting and genome sequencing are becoming very cheap, thanks to next generation sequencing platforms such as Illumina/solexa technology. These studies are beginning to attract attention, not so much for political reasons but mainly for scientific and medical reasons. Population size, in a simple form, is determined by birth/death rate, immigration emigration and in the case of Kurds assimilation. For us assimilation has been the mother of all evil and it results primarily from lack of ones ability to communicates in ones own language. This is often the result of forced migration. Turkey is the modern architect of assimilation policy. Thanks to science we will soon find out what fraction of Turkey is truly Kurdish.
Mike | 15/9/2013
"The expelled Kurds were resettled in the central Asian republicans such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It is believed that many died of disease and starvation. " Corrections: republics* not republicans. And Armenia is not a central asian republic. Please delete this comment after appropriate correction is made.
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