Kurdish Refugees’ View of Politically Motivated Self-Immolation

Author(s): Mariwan HUSNI, Narmen KOYE, Zack Z. CERNOVSKY, John HAGGARTY



Self-immolation has been used as a political tool by various oppressed groups, including Kurdish refugees. To examine sociodemographic correlates of the views on self-immolation, we carried out semi-structured interviews with 54 Kurdish refugees (18 women, 36 men). The majority of these refugees (74.1%) indicated that they did not expect self-immolations to help in obtaining freedom for Kurdistan. Their opinions on this issue were uniform across educational and occupational levels, gender, number of years since escape, and other socio-demographic variables, except age. Younger refugees were less likely to see self-immolation as politically effective. The belief in self-immolation was uncorrelated with the frequency of post-traumatic nightmares dealing with the escape from or persecution in Kurdistan.

Key words: acculturation, nightmares, refugees, self-immolation

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