Posted by: Frangipani | May 5, 2012

Is this why Britain is not very interested in the Kurdish Issue?

Of great importance to Britain after the second world war was the plight of the Jews after much persecution under Nazi Germany and their need for a homeland. I always wondered why the plight of the Kurds after much persecution and the need for a homeland throughout the 20th century and until today receives relatively little interest from Britain. I offer a reason as to why this might be the case.

Up to the middle of the 19th century hundreds of thousands of Christians lived in what are now the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria; the land of Paradise, of Noah’s ark, of Mesopotamia. The numbers today are only a few thousand, to a large part because the Christians were driven out, captured and enslaved, and also massacred by Kurdish tribes in battles such as those of 1843 and 1846. Britain as a nominally ‘Christian’ country got involved trying to free Assyrian captives from the 1843 battles, and to have property returned to them. They succeeded only in relatively minor ways. In the second massacre in 1846, to avoid such foreign ‘interference’, the Kurdish leader Bedr Khan Beg stirred up his men to ‘jihad’ and had all Assyrian men, women and children killed, and the Christian villages razed to the ground.

Could this failure by Britain to prevent such horrors to the Assyrian villages, and the antagonism towards the Kurdish people at that time, be part of Britain’s diplomatic legacy? To add to the negative legacy, most historians would agree that Kurds were also used to kill Armenians in the genocide of 1915.

Therefore, when it was the Kurds who were being oppressed and killed in the regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria that used to have higher Assyrian populations, could it be that Britain was not particularly interested? A sort of ‘eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’? But that of course is not the Christian message. Whilst Britain would certainly not claim today to be a Christian country, it does recognise its Christian legacy. And so Britain would do well to remember that the Christian message is to forgive, as we are forgiven by God.

The needs of Kurdish people today should be judged on today’s standards of human rights, and not by some failed diplomatic attempts of Victorian Britain.

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