Ismet Sheríf Vanlí

Ismet Sherif Vanli

Prof. Ismet Cherif Vanli (1924-2011), (Kurdish: Ismet Sheríf Wanlí, عیسمەت شەریف وانلی) was born on November 21, 1924, to Kurdish parents in Damascus/Kurdish Syria’s neighbourhood. Long before the Ottoman Empire fell in 1918, his father, Muhammad Cherif Vanli, moved to Damascus from the Van district in northwestern Kurdistan. Ismet’s mother, Xayriya Abdulla Alarrashi, was born in Diyarbaker and came to Damascus with her family.

After finishing his primary and secondary school in Arabic and French, he moved to Beirut/Lebanon for further education. He studied Civil Engineering for one and half year before he realized that he has his heart on some other subjects.

In late 1948, Ismet relocated to Lausanne, Switzerland. At Lausanne University, he met notable Kurdish academic Nouraddin Zaza. Zaza was a major element in Ismet’s decision to attend Lausanne University. Ismet completed his bachelor’s degree in law and is now a lawyer. He continued his studies at the University of Geneva, where he earned an MA in history and a PhD in political science. His PhD dissertation focused on the Kurdish nation’s right to self-determination and the creation of a Kurdish country based on human rights and international law.

Along with other Kurdish students in the diaspora. In 1956, Ismet founded the Kurdish Student Society in Europe, or KSSE. Many existing student groups of Iraqi, Turkish, and Iranian provenance were opposed to the formation of a distinct Kurdish student society. They claimed that Kurdish interests were already woven into their plans. Nonetheless, Ismet was determined to become the Kurdish nation’s voice in Europe. As a KSSE representative, he went around Europe and attended several international conferences. In 1958, he was elected to represent KSSE in the London International Conference, (?) which included several nations from across the world. He also represented KSSE at International Student Union yearly conferences.

In early 1959 he moved to Paris to study Kurdish History at the Sorbonne University. This was in liaison with Kamran Bedir khan who was at that time a lecturer in Kurdish language at the Sorbonne. France was the only country in the world that Kurdish historical studies were provided.

As a true believer in Kurdish nation’s legitimate rights for self-determination, he promoted Kurdish political struggle in Europe. Ismet was the spokesman in Europe for General Mostapha Barzani’s, from 1962 to 1966, and then 1975 and 1976. “He used to say that I did not believe in Kurdish autonomy,” states Vanli. “I suggested this many times that Barzani needed to change his views from Kurdish autonomy in Iraq to a democratic federal Iraq where Kurds could get their federal state.” (excerpts from Vanli’s 1969 book “The Struggle of Iraqi Kurdistan” that was based. On his doctoral dissertation, where he argues that the Kurdish nation have the right to determine their own faith.) Vanli believed that many Kurdish movements after 1945 have lost the real will of Kurdish nation for a free and independent homeland.

Prof. Vanli died on 9th or Nov 2011 in Lausanne/Swiss. Vanli worked primarily on national politics of the Kurds and their history, using French language as the medium. Some of Vanli’s better-known works include:

  1. Parez VANLI: Aspects de la Question nationale Kurde en Iran, Paris: Juillet, 1959.
  2. Ismet Cheriff Vanli: La Question d unification de la langue Kurde existe, Londres, Mars, 1960.
  3. Ismet Cheriff VANLI: Entertein sur le Kurdistan et la question Kurde, accorde par I auteur grec V. Sakkatos, Athenes, Juin, 1959.

This biography was prepared by Dilan Roshani

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