Zaza nationalism is an ideology that supports the preservation of Zaza people between Turks and Kurds in Turkey. The movement also supports the idea that the Zaza people are a different ethnic group from Kurds.
The movement first appeared among the Zaza diaspora in the 1980s. Zaza people opposed to Kurdish preventions for Zaza language journals in Europe. Another factor is that Zaza people were not obliged to learn Turkish or Kurdish. Thus, the free environment contributed to them learning the Zaza language and caused an increase of Zaza sentiments.
Ebubekir Pamukcu is seen as the initiator of Zaza nationalism and the first user of the term 'Zazaistan'. He published Ayre and Piya journals on Zaza language and expressed his opinions. He supports the idea of separating Zazas from Kurdish influence and indicates that Zaza people have been denied by both the Turkish state and Kurdish nationals for decades.
Supporters of Zaza nationalism are afraid of being assimilated by Turkish and Kurdish influence. They indicate of protecting Zaza culture, language and heritage rather than seeking any kind of autonomy within Turkey.
The opponents of Zaza nationalism are generally Kurdish nationalists and PKK supporters. They consider Zaza people and language as a branch of Kurdish population. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan criticized Zaza movements as 'a tool to weaken Kurdish consciousness' and alleged that MİT was behind the movement.
In an interview with Kurdmedia, Kurdish-Zaza linguist Mehemed Malmîsanij said the name of this “Zazaistan” publisher was the “Zaza Culture and Publication House” and was part of the Turkish intelligence services with the task of attacking the Kurdish nationalist movement. “The conclusion that I draw… is that these [Zaza nationalist groups] were groups based in the state, or with a more favorable expression, groups that thought in parallel with the state”.
- Wladimir van Wilgenburg (28 January 2009). "Is Ankara Promoting Zaza Nationalism to Divide the Kurds?". The Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- Zulfü Selcan, Grammatik der Zaza-Sprache, Nord-Dialekt (Dersim-Dialekt), Wissenschaft & Technik Verlag, Berlin, 1998, p. 23.
- Unpublished interview by Paul White with PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, at the Mahsum Korkmaz Akademisi, Lebanon, July 2, 1992.