The objective of this paper is to give a brief overview of the development of ‘Minority Rights’ in South Africa and Turkey from the twentieth century onwards. In the case of South Africa the term ‘Minority Rights’ has to be understood in a figurative sense, because the white population as the oppressors over the black population was eventually the numeral minority. In the following the paper is organized in two chapters. The first chapter will deal with the historical background of minority rights and their present situation first in Turkey and then in South Africa. Afterwards both countries will be compared briefly with each other in a final conclusion.
II. Minority Rights
The following analysis on the minority rights in Turkey will concentrate on the Kurdish ethnicity which constitutes about 10 to 15% of the Turkish population (data in literature disperses tremendously). In order to understand the emergence of a Kurdish Question in Turkey we first have to take the historical development into account.
After the end of World War I and the defeat of the axis powers including the former Ottoman Empire Turkish struggle for freedom began in leadership of Ataturk in order to revise the appalling claims of the allies to divide the ottoman territories and to distribute them among the victorious powers. In order to reestablish a unified state, Turks, Kurds and all the other inhabitants and ethnicities of Anatolia (territory of today’s Turkey) bundled their powers for the struggle of independence against the allied powers and terminated the foreign invasion with a military victory against them. As result of the victory in the war of independence the contract of Sevres (1920), which was highly appalling to the Turkish side, was revised and replaced by the agreement of Lausanne in 1923 which rendered Turkey’s former core territories in Asia Minor and indemnified a sovereign Turkish State (Cf. Steinhaus 1969).
The manifestation of the Kurdish Question began thus with the establishment of the Turkish state in 1923. To figure out why the nation-state building process caused the appearance of a Kurdish Question for the first time it may be beneficial to record the following: The organizational and social structure of the Kurdish population in Turkey is entirely segmental (cf. Bozkurt 1994: 23). This traditional, feudal type of society is antithetic towards a central organization, thus a nation-state. This means furthermore, that in societies where ‘lineages’ exist (such as the Kurdish case: feudal societal organization with “Agas” (great land owners), the primary political integration cannot be afforded due to a central state organization (cf. Bozkurt 1994: 35). This thesis goes along with the historical fact, that a Territorial State or Reign under the notation of “Kurdistan” has never existed, which in other words simply means that the current social and organizational composition of the Kurdish society is not compatible with a democratic and central organized state. If we now think beyond, it becomes clear that the motives of the Kurdish nationalists and activists compulsorily are not affordable through a democratic process, so that we can act on the assumption that the reason for the existence of the terror organization PKK is moreover to split up the Turkish territorial state than to go for a democratic solution.
 Bozkurt 1994: 34:”Die kurdische traditionelle Gesellschaft als eine Gesellschaftsformation war antithetisch zur Herausbildung einer Zentralinstanz, einer staatlichen Organisation”.
 The widespread belief that Kurds in Turkey are discriminated and have no chance of advancing socially is obsolete (Former Turkish Presidents Turgut Özal or Ismet Inönü had Kurdish ancestors)
- Quote paper
- Anonymous, 2010, Country Report on South Africa and Turkey, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/149104