Kurdistan (Turkey) / Places We Go / Turkey

A Slice Of Kurdistan: Kurdish Tobacco Farmers, Kayseri & More

Returning from our farthest point in the southeast regions of Kurdish Turkey, we used our GPS unit to take us on a route well off the beaten path (if there even is such a thing as the “beaten path” in this part of Turkey).

Agriculture is the primary economic activity in this area (although recent oil discoveries may alter that) and seeing the fields pictured below, I felt like I was back in Afghanistan with its countless stone walls and lush crops:

kurdistan

In case you haven’t recognized it, the primary crop grown in this area is tobacco.  I think it is an attractive plant:

tobacco field kurdistan

tobacco kurdistan

These women were busy picking tobacco, but stopped to talk to us and pose for a couple of pictures when we came by:

harvesting tobacco kurdistan

After enough tobacco has been picked by hand to fill a number of sacks, a tractor is brought out to retrieve the freshly picked tobacco:

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Once back in town, it is sorted and hung to dry:

tobacco drying kurdistan

Hard at work sorting tobacco leaves:

sorting-tobacco-leaves-kurdistan

She actually was hard at work until I stopped to talk to her.  Well, did my best to talk to her anyway:

kurdistan-woman

Below are some pictures of a tobacco warehouse:

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Which happens to form the basement of this man’s home… You see, while we were walking through the small village featured in these pictures, the man below insisted that we join a circle of men he was sitting and conversing with for tea.  After accepting his kind offer and drinking our tea, he requested that we join him for a meal at his home.  Who are we to refuse such a kind offer and miss a chance to have an interesting experience?

kurdish family

The man that invited us was the only one that spoke any English and so he did his best to interpret for everyone.  It’s amazing how much nodding and smiling, accompanied by hand gestures, can achieve. As we were meeting his family, a small feast of delicious food was brought out:

kurdish food

kurdistan-feast

One of his brothers rolling a cigarette for a post-meal smoke:

kurdish-man

As on my other travels, the camera proved to be a fantastic ice breaker and soon every relative, no matter how distant, was being summoned for a photograph as word of our presence whirled through the village:

kurdistan mother child

kurdish father son

kurdistan

I thought these kids were exceptionally cute…  And I was intrigued by the blond hair of the little girl on the left:

kurd-family

The little girl in red was quite the ham and enjoyed having her picture taken.  I didn’t mind indulging her:

kurdish girls

kurdish-girl

One of the women of the village that came to have her picture taken:

kurdish woman

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Unfortunately, Kayseri was still several hours away and so, all too soon, it was back on the road for us.  By the way, the below is back on the main road…  See what I mean about the “beaten path” being non-existent out here?

kurdistan

However, it is still Turkey with its astronomically high accident rate as this common scene reminded me when we flashed past (notice the skid marks leading to the closest smashed car):

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But, despite being in Turkey, one is reminded frequently that they are a long way from Istanbul or Ankara by frequent scenes of poverty that continually reminded me of Afghanistan:

kurdistan

And by a heavy military and police presence to keep the Kurds in line:

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Arriving in Kayseri, there was still some time to walk around and take pictures as well as meet some of the locals:

kurdistan

Kayseri

Kayseri

Fortunately, there are plenty of bazaars where all of the essentials, such as excellent produce, can be found:

Kayseri

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Or quality firearms:

kurdistan gun dealer

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Based on our overwhelmingly positive experiences in Kurdish Turkey, I can’t wait to visit Kurdish populations in Iraq, Iran and Syria. For more on the Kurdish people, click here.

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8 thoughts on “A Slice Of Kurdistan: Kurdish Tobacco Farmers, Kayseri & More

  1. Great pics! I think Turkey is an awesome place to visit. Wonderful people, great hospitality, breathtaking views… I really like your entry regarding the Kurdish family. Many people have prejudices against them, but my personal experience and contact with these families has been everything but unpleasant.

  2. My grandmother comes from Kurdistan and immigrated to Israel in the 1950’s, since then she has always dreamed of going back. Her cousin did go back in the 1990’s, finding her way in through the Turkish border and back to her village of Ranyeh. The Jews in Kurdistan spoke Aramaic as well as the local dialect (sorani). Great pictures and wonderful tour of Kurdistan.

  3. * JUNE 27, 2011, 1:51 P.M. ET
    Kurdish Rebels Attack Soldiers

    By MARC CHAMPION

    One day after the leader of the outlawed Kurdish PKK guerrilla movement warned that Turkey could soon return to “war” with its Kurdish minority, the group killed a soldier and seriously wounded three others.

    Fighters from the PKK, or Kurdish Workers’ Party, carried out the ambush Monday in the town of Saray, close to Turkey’s border with Iran, Anadolu Ajansi, Turkey’s state news agency reported, citing the governor of Van province.

    The attack came as Kurds continued to protest a decision by Turkey’s High Election Board last week that barred from Parliament one of the 36 candidates supported by the main Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, in June 12 national elections. Hatip Dicle’s seat was transferred to the ruling Justice and Development Party, triggering a Kurdish boycott of the new Parliament.

    Lower court decisions over the weekend refused bail to five other Kurdish candidates awaiting trial on terrorism-related charges. While not barred from Parliament—meaning their seats wouldn’t be transferred to other parties—the court rulings mean those five candidates couldn’t be sworn in when the new session convenes for the first time Tuesday.

    “We now have two options, a democratic constitutional solution or a revolutionary people’s war,” PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said in a statement dated Sunday, which his lawyers said he gave to them when they made a weekly visit to his jail on an island close to Istanbul on Friday. He called the election board decision a “conspiracy” against Kurds. Mr. Ocalan has been in a Turkish prison since 1999 and communicates through his lawyers.

    “As for the first road, it is necessary to put into practice the solution to the Kurdish question. The government knows what it should do in order to get this started. As for the second road, clearly if no practical steps are taken the people will start their revolutionary war,” he said.

    In the statement, Mr. Ocalan gave the government until July 15 to respond to proposals he said he has given it, aimed at resolving the conflict, which has claimed as many as 40,000 lives since 1984. Fighting has calmed significantly in recent years, as the PKK gave up demands for independence and sought political autonomy within Turkey instead. The group has announced a series of unilateral cease-fires and says sporadic attacks such as Monday’s are in retaliation for Turkish security-force operations against the PKK.

    The government hasn’t acknowledged negotiating with Mr. Ocalan. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the U.S. and the European Union.

    The government says last week’s election-board decision to bar Mr. Dicle from Parliament was purely judicial. In response, however, the BDP has said its candidates will boycott Parliament altogether. Lawyers for Mr. Dicle said Monday they had lodged an appeal against the decision at Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

    Mr. Dicle was among six Kurds elected while in jail, but his case differed from the others in that he already had been convicted on a prior charge of conducting terrorist propaganda, excluding him from Parliament under Turkish law. Three non-Kurdish candidates awaiting trial in jail on terrorism related charges—two from the main opposition Republican People’s Party and one from the nationalist National Movement Party—also were refused bail.

    On Friday, the PKK’s acting leader Murat Karayilan told the Kurdish Firat news agency that the decision on Mr. Dicle’s candidacy was “cause for war.” The PKK also on Friday claimed responsibility for an attack two days earlier, in which two Turkish soldiers were killed.

  4. به امید روزی که خاورمیانه ای دموکراتیک داشته باشیم که در آن تمام ملت ها حقوق همدیگر را به رسمیت بشناسند.
    به هیوای روژیک که روژهه لاتیکی ناوین پیک بیت که هه موی ملله تانی ئه و منطقه حه ق و حقوقی یه کتر به ره سمییت بناسن.

  5. Your writing was great, until you reach to Turkey. Unfortunately,you nothing to go past the places you call Kurdistan.I lived in kayseri and a number of Kurds living in Kayseri, not even 5%. The number of Kurds living in Turkey controversial. because, my mother Kurdish, my father, Turks, and I both Turk and Kurd :). and there are millions of people like me:) . In the meantime, Someones trying to separate the Turks and the Kurds, but in fact we ‘re the same.They are doing it for oil and money . And unfortunately, some of the Kurds are bleeding this game.

  6. pek ingilizce yazmam bu nednele türkçe yazayım isteyen sözlükten tercüme edebilir kayseri kürt şehri değildir,ancak malatya kürt şehridir ancak türkiye devletinin sisysi asimilasyon denemeleriyle kürtlerin kürtlerin arapların ve ermenilerin yaşadığı şehirler öncelikler ermenilerden temizlendi,daha sonra türkliği kabul etmeyen kürtler sınır düşüna göçe zorlandı isyan edenler aileleriyle birlilkte çocukalr dahil öldürüldü örnek olarak DERSİM-1938 bebek yaşlı denmeden zehirli gaz ve yakılarak 50000 fazla kürt katliamdan geçirildi şuan için türkiyede yaşyan kürtlerin yarısına yakını tc devletinden hesap sormak ve kendi anadillerinyl eğitim ve öğretim görmek için mücadele ediyor iki yüzlü batı devletide şuanki türkiye3 devletinin yaptığı katliamlara çıakrları için herzman göz yümmuştur ve gözyummaya devam edecektir

  7. Thanks for sharing :) I come from syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistana Rojava-Westkurdistan) and now I’m living in Gernany since 11 years. I’m really glad that you went there and had fun. Best regards

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