Khorasan of the Kurds, the Kurds of Khorasan

Khorasan of the Kurds, the Kurds of Khorasan
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We talked to Selim Temo about his book “Kurds of Khorasan,” which has just been published in a new, expanded edition.

The expanded fifth edition of Selim Temo's acclaimed title Horasan Kurtleri ("Kurds of Khorasan") is now on the shelves. The book, whose first edition was published in 2018, was unveiled under the label of Dara Publications with an expansion of about 150 pages. The 784-page book, which focuses on the Kurdish presence in Khorasan, includes numerous maps, manuscripts, documents and photographs.

After the first edition of the book, we met Temo in person in the village of Mêrîna, in Batman, and this time we were able to have a telephone conversation with him in Paris, where he currently lives.

Selim Temo, whom we interviewed on the occasion of this new and expanded edition of Khorasan Kurds, explained that the additions he made in the latest edition cover about 150 pages. Temo noted that he was far away from his library and cultural context, yet he was still able to enrich his book with sources from European libraries. "The first edition was also an important work, but with these additions, the book is now complete in my eyes," Temo stated, adding that he used sources in 14 languages and three alphabets.


Temo hopes that the interest in the first edition will continue, adding that his book also has an impact on Khorasan, and continued with the following words:

"Names like Nurî Dersimî, Zinar Silopî and M. Kalman referred to the Kurdish presence in Khorasan, while names like Faik Bulut, Mehmet Bayrak, Selahattin Ali Arik Sores Resî opened the door to Khorasan for the Kurds in terms of research and identification. My work was added to this line through field research and the use of sources. I also compiled the written and oral literature of the Kurds of Khorasan. On the other hand, the interest in this book has strengthened many Kurdish researchers and writers living in Khorasan. I can say that a cultural bridge has been created or the existing bridge has been strengthened. Likewise, many people have made contact with people from their own family or tribe through the book and social media. We can talk about a reunion that was overdue for hundreds of years."


When asked why he wrote Khorasan Kurds in Turkish, Selim Temo replied, "As I explained in the preface, I preferred Turkish because the distortion of the official history of Khorasan has meant that Alevi Kurds in particular are no longer standard readers of Kurdish. I have been waiting for this final edition for translation into Kurdish and other languages. My publisher has scheduled the Kurdish-Kurmanji translation for January 2023. There are also publishers who want to translate and publish it in Arabic, Persian, and English."


Temo emphasized that the Kurds of Khorasan have largely preserved their identity and language despite centuries of assimilation, and made the following comments on the political situation of this community:

"The Kurds of Khorasan were powerful for centuries in the places to which they were displaced. They established four provinces, namely Cemisgezek/Zaferanlu, Shadî, Keywanlu/Kawî and Rudkan. Over time, however, the chiefdoms of the Khorasan Kurds were gradually abolished, as were the principalities in Central Kurdistan. The last one hundred and fifty years can be characterized as a period of rebellion and defeat. The last armed movement of this community was ESP-TARAN. It was founded in 1980 under the leadership of Nasrullah Behadurani and disbanded in 1984 when its founders and leaders were massacred by the state. Since then, the Kurds of Khorasan have shown some interest in major Kurdish politics, but we can only speak of limited participation."


We interviewed Selim Temo about the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman in Iran who was detained by the “Guidance Patrol,” and the impact on Khorasan Kurds of the unrest that has erupted throughout the country. Temo commented on the events as follows:

"The Kurdish community of Khorasan was historically linked to Kurdistan by a population bridge. However, the Iranian ideology of Persianization affected them as well, and they were transformed into an isolated society that was oppressed and lacked political will. A part of this society has been involved in the army and the bureaucracy for sectarian reasons. However, the majority of the population is very poor and participates in almost all opposition movements in Iran. After the assassination of Jîna Mehsa Amînî, the wave of rebellion that spread through Rojhilat, eastern Kurdistan and Iran also gripped the Kurds in Khorasan. Since the first days of the uprising, Kurdish cities such as Qochan, Shîrvan, Bojnurd and Esferayîn have seen massive protests. Last week, state forces killed two young men called Elî Mozaferî and Mehdî Bebrnijad in Qoçan. In Shirvan, the state's religious office was burned down by protesters, with state forces killing two more people. I fear that the Iranian state will exploit the growth of the uprising for a massacre. My hope is that the demand for “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi,” which has become a universal slogan, will also be realized in Iran."