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Kürt Teavün ve Terakki Cemiyeti

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The Kürt Teavün ve Terakki Cemiyeti (Turkish for Kurdish Committee for Mutual Aid and Progress, Kurdish: Cemiyeta Teawun û Teraqiya Kurd) was the first explicitly Kurdish political organization according to its self-image[1] in the Ottoman Empire

It was founded in Istanbul on 19 September 1908 by senior figures in Kurdish society, including Seyyit Abdülkadir, Emin Ali Bedirxan, Mehmet Şükrü Sekban and Ismail Paschazade Müsir Ahmet Pasha. Its political orientation was conservative and pro-Ottoman; the organization did not pursue Kurdish nationalist goals, but sought to “establish unity and harmony among the hostile tribes in Kurdistan” and to teach the Kurdish population about the constitutional and ruling system of the Ottoman Empire[2]. Furthermore, it devoted itself to promoting education among the Kurds, for example by founding a Kurdish school, and it published a magazine called Kürt Teavün ve Terakki Gazetesi. The first issue appeared on December 5, 1908, with Pîremêrd as the editor in charge. People like Said Nursî, Abdullah Cevdet and also Süleyman Nazif wrote in the newspaper.

The image of the grouping in the historical literature, where it often appears under the false name Kürdistan Taali ve Terakki Cemiyeti (Committee for the Rise and Progress of Kurdistan), differs in part significantly from the objectives evidenced in the Committee’s documents. This account can be traced back to Sureya Bedirxan, the son of co-founder Emin Ali Bedirxan, who, in contrast to his father, pursued Kurdish-nationalist goals and accordingly also attributed such aspirations to the first Kurdish organization.[3]
The Kürt Teavün ve Terakki Cemiyeti represented a distinctly elitist-aristocratic understanding of politics. It saw the population as a kind of flock of sheep in need of leadership by nobles.

The committee’s greatest success was the government’s establishment of two commissions that were sent to East Anatolia to monitor local administration. In contrast, it failed to gain a significant following among the Kurdish rural population; the KTTC’s influence remained limited to migrant workers in Istanbul.

Individual references

  1. Günter Behrendt: Nationalismus in Kurdistan – Vorgeschichte, Entstehungsbedingungen und erste Manifestationen bis 1925. Deutsches Orient-Institut, Hamburg 1993, p. 268
  2. Günter Behrendt p. 271
  3. Günter Behrendt p. 269f.

Literature

  • Günter Behrendt: Nationalismus in Kurdistan – Vorgeschichte, Entstehungsbedingungen und erste Manifestationen bis 1925. Deutsches Orient-Institut, Hamburg 1993.