Letters to the Editor. Kurdish identity

Your writer characterizes ``persistent Kurdish guerrilla activity in the southeast'' as ``the few dark clouds'' on an otherwise sunny Turkish horizon [``Turkish government tackles problem of Kurdish insurgency,'' Oct. 30]. He fails to note its existence on maps prior to World War I as Kurdistan. More than a 1,000 years earlier the southeast was home to the Kardu, whom Xenophon memorialized in his Retreat of the Ten Thousand in 400 BC. Today's Kurds are the progeny of that indigenous people. For the past 60 years they have struggled to retain these roots in a ruthless war carried on by successive Turkish regimes preoccupied with denying and punishing any manifestations of Kurdish ethnic identity.

The Kurds have largely been forbidden to wear their traditional costume, speak, read, or possess any materials in their language. A Kurdish mother cannot give her baby a Kurdish name. The words ``Kurd'' and ``Kurdistan'' have been erased from literature and maps. This forced assimilation the writer characterizes as ``integration into modern Turkish life.'' Vera Beaudin Saeedpour Cultural Survival Inc. Director, The Kurdish Program New York

In his review of ``Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust,'' Joseph Harrison flatly states that historians will never settle the debate as to whether Hitler or Stalin caused the greatest amount of human misery [``Grim tale of starvation during Stalin's `hidden holocaust,' Nov. 25]. In terms of government imposed genocide that argument was put to rest in 1971 with the publication of Robert Conquest's study, ``The Human Cost of Soviet Communism.'' The Senate subcommittee report concluded that the imposition of communism in Russia cost between 35 and 45 million lives during the Lenin and Stalin periods. The companion study by Prof. Richard Walker, ``The Human Cost of Communism in China,'' calculated a range of between 34 and 64 million victims, leaving Mao Tse-tung the winner. Howard L. Naslund Annapolis, Md.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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