Kurds in Istanbul

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The total number of Kurds in Istanbul is estimated variously from 2 to 4 million people.


Total population

In 1995, the Kurdish Human Rights Watch estimated that the Kurds in Istanbul numbered ca. 2 million.[1] In 1996, Servet Mutlu estimated that the Kurds were 8.16% (594,000) of Istanbul instead of the often stated 1.5 million.[2] In 1998, the German Foreign Ministry stated that there were 3 million Kurds in Istanbul.[2] American diplomat John Tirman estimated the Kurds in Istanbul to number 4 million people (1997).[3] According to another estimation, the Kurds in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other big cities (not including those inside the "Kurdish provinces") constitute 35% of the total Turkish Kurd population.[4]



The first Kurdish cultural and political associations were established in Istanbul.[6] During the reign of Abdulhamid II (r. 1876–1909) the Kurds began producing literature on the condition of the Kurds in Istanbul.[7] In 1918, Kurdish intellectuals established the Association for the Rise of the Kurds in Istanbul.[8] In March 1995 Kurdish riots broke out in Istanbul.[9]

Clashes between pro-Kurdish demonstrators and Turkish police have repeatedly taken place in Istanbul; such events occurred in 2011,[10] 2016,[11] and 2018.[12]

Political views[edit]

An estimated 3.9% of Istanbul residents consider themselves to be Kurdish; according to one poll, among this group 90% opposed the idea of Kurdish independence from Turkey, while according to another poll, only 9% of supported the HEP party.[13] On June 29, 2013, 10,000 protesters gathered at Taksim Square in solidarity with Kurds.[14] About 1,000 Kurdish activists from Istanbul went to Kobani after Abdullah Ocalan's call of mobilization (September 2014).[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mustafa Mohamed Karadaghi (1995). Handbook of Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc: A Non-profit Humanitarian Organization. UN.
  2. ^ a b Ferhad Ibrahim (2000). The Kurdish Conflict in Turkey: Obstacles and Chances for Peace and Democracy. LIT Verlag Münster. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-3-8258-4744-9.
  3. ^ John Tirman (1997). Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America's Arms Trade. Free Press. ISBN 978-0-684-82726-1.
  4. ^ Lokman I. Meho (1 January 1997). The Kurds and Kurdistan: A Selective and Annotated Bibliography. ABC-CLIO. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-0-313-30397-5.
  5. ^ a b Zalewski, Piotr (9 January 2012). "Istanbul: Big Trouble in Little Kurdistan". Time.
  6. ^ Philip G. Kreyenbroek; Stefan Sperl (17 August 2005). The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview. Routledge. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-1-134-90766-3.
  7. ^ Hakan Ozoglu (1 February 2012). Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State: Evolving Identities, Competing Loyalties, and Shifting Boundaries. SUNY Press. pp. 35–. ISBN 978-0-7914-8556-9.
  8. ^ A Democratic Future for the Kurds of Turkey: Proceedings of the Conference on North West Kurdistan (South East Turkey), March 12-13, 1994, Brussels. medico international. 1995. ISBN 978-1-900175-01-2.
  9. ^ Robert W. Olson (1996). The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in the 1990s: Its Impact on Turkey and the Middle East. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 44–. ISBN 0-8131-0896-9.
  10. ^ Turkey police disperse pro-Kurdish protesters: Protest in Istanbul turns violent when riot police began using tear gas, Al Jazeera (June 26, 2011).
  11. ^ Turkey coup aftermath: Pro-Kurdish Istanbul protests broken up, BBC News (November 5, 2016).
  12. ^ Turkish police use pepper spray against pro-Kurdish protesters, Reuters (January 21, 2018).
  13. ^ Ibrahim Kaya (2004). Social Theory and Later Modernities: The Turkish Experience. Liverpool University Press. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-0-85323-898-0.
  14. ^ "Thousands march in Istanbul in solidarity with Kurds". english.alarabiya.net.
  15. ^ Butler, Desmond. "Kurds suspect Turkey of backing Islamic State". www.timesofisrael.com.