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Asawar supports various ethnic/cultural groups around the world who are struggling to preserve their cultural identity and/or gain international recognition of their independence.

By providing information on the historical and political basis of the struggle for independence of groups such as the Kurds, Palestinians, Basques, Tibetans and others, we seek to connect Americans to the issues and to create sympathy and understanding for their shared cause: Cultural and political freedom. The center runs cultural events, lectures and discussions providing all Americans interested in current international affairs with a better understanding other cultures.

WHO ARE THE KURDS?

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The Kurdish people are a heterogeneous ethnic group whose ethnic background comes from many regions including Iraqi Kurdistan, and parts of Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The Kurdish ethnic group includes many ancient ethnicities that have been absorbed into modern cultures including Iranian, Azerbaijani, Turkic and Arabic cultures. In this sense, the Kurdish culture shares commonalities with many other regional cultures, and celebrates a unique level of cultural equality and tolerance.

KURDISH CULTURE

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In addition to political repression, the Kurds have also experienced cultural repression. In Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, there were extensive campaigns at forced assimilation. Kurds were forbidden to speak Kurdish in public, they had to change their names to local ethnic names if they wanted a job or to enroll their children in school.

KURDS IN HISTORY

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Nationalist movements gained popularity throughout Europe in the 19th Century resulting in establishment of nation-states in Germany, Italy and Greece as well as autonomy in the Balkans (Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia) that were under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Nationalist fever did not go unnoticed amongst the young Kurds.