The group of Kurds who met with Germany’s integration minister. Photo courtesy of Komkar and DKJV.
MAINZ, Germany – Several Kurdish organizations in Germany met on Tuesday with minister of integration Aydan Ozoguz, following an invitation by her after complaints by Kurdish organizations that they had been excluded from other integration summits.
“This summit is a good and accurate start, but it clearly has to go on in the future,” said Kahraman Evsen, head of the German-Kurdish Lawyers Association (DKJV).
“We also need meetings with other ministers, due to the fact that integration is a cross-cutting task, which means that it concerns many different aspects of life and therefore also other government departments with other areas of responsibility,” he added.
Among seven Kurdish organizations were the Kurdish Community in Germany (KGD), the Association of Yezidi Lawyers, Navend, KOMKAR and the DKJV.
Also attending were professors Cinur Ghaderior, Jan Ilhan Kizilhan and Kurdish-Yezidi journalist Duzen Tekkal.
Kizilhan, a professor at the University of Villingen-Schwenningen who cares for traumatized Kurdish women freed from ISIS captivity, spoke about the self-consciousness of Kurds, whose numbers he and other academics estimate between one and 1.2 million in Germany.
“Europe has been a place of encounter, where many Kurds from different parts of Kurdistan have met for the first time,” the professor said.
“The identification as a Kurd started for many of them in Europe,” he said, referring to the oppression of the Kurdish identity in several parts of Kurdistan.
The Kurdish representatives demanded a recognition of German-Kurds as a separate ethnicity, saying that “Kurds have fled their homeland because of repression and not-recognition of their culture and identity.”
“Therefore, we recommended to the minister to collect academic data on Kurds in Germany. We need accurate statistics on Kurds. We also need a simple solution for the naming laws, which could help many Kurds change the Turkish or Arabic names imposed on them in their homeland,” said Evsen.
Rohat Geran, the federal head of KOMKAR, said: “Translating government brochures and publications into Kurdish was also one of our demands. And we clearly spoke of Kurdish, not of Kurmanci or Sorani, because we know of the Kurdish pluralism and we want every Kurd to be part of the integration into the German society, not just one group or the other.”
Geran and his colleagues also demanded financial help for the Kurdistan Region. “The Kurdistan Region is overloaded with 1.5 million refugees, it clearly needs help,” said Geran.
“Germany should help the Kurdish government to manage the refugee crisis, just like it supports Turkey with its own refugee influx.”
Another point on the agenda was support for Kurdish-Yezidi women, who were captives of ISIS. The attendees demanded more direct support in matters of medical treatments, especially psychological.
Although Germany is home to more than one million Kurds, this was the first meeting of its kind.
Since Aydan Ozoguz, came into office in 2013, many Kurds have accused the minister of Turkish origin, to deliberately exclude Kurds from immigrant summits.