The Kurds are the largest nationality without a country and the estimated Kurdish population of 25 million is split between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Fears of separatism mean Kurds have faced oppression in all these countries. Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the Iraqi Kurdish population is well known. In Syria, Kurdish language and culture are restricted and rights denied. In Iran, a fatwa was declared against the Kurds and their towns shelled. In Turkey, expressions of Kurdish identity and language are forbidden.
Abdullah Ocalan otherwise known as "Apo" founded the PKK or the Kurdish Workers Party which launched a war of separatism against Turkey from 1984 to 1998. Atrocities on both sides resulted in 30,000 dead. Turkish victory in the war was achieved by the forced evacuation of Kurdish villages. From 1988 to 1997 27,000 Kurds and Turks sought asylum in Britain. Kurds are especially visible in Dalston and Haringey in North London where Kurdish shops provide the community with employment and where many continue to support the PKK.