David McDowall

David McDowall’s A Modern History of the Kurds is published by Tauris. His recent visit to Turkey was made under the auspices of the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

Diary: In Diyarbakir

David McDowall, 20 February 1997

The principal city of Turkish Kurdistan is Diyarbakir, a bustling place that in the last fifty years has overflowed its magnificently forbidding basalt walls. These dramatic fortifications – built following the town’s capture by the great Saljuq Malik Shah in 1088 – remain uncluttered and defiant on the southern side: their dark ramparts can be seen from miles away. I remember driving to Diyarbakir as a student in 1967, when the walls were still visible on every side. In those days it held 100,000 inhabitants, of whom only a small minority lived in the new apartment blocks outside the old city. Visitors were rare: the whole eastern region of Anatolia had been closed to foreigners for the preceding three decades.’

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