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International Paris Conference, 1989


Éditeur : FIKP Date & Lieu : 1992, Paris
Préface : Institut kurde Pages : 154
Traduction : Institut kurde ISBN : 2-908416-05-0
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 140x210 mm
Code FIKP : Liv.-Ang. 2108Thème : Politique

Présentation
Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
International Paris Conference, 1989


International Paris Conference
14-15 October 1989

The Kurds : Human Rights and cultural Identity

"The tragic fight of the Kurdish people, which has lasted for such a long time, has its origins in the principle right of every population to auto, determination. This is why it is a righteous fight.

I call upon all governments, organisations and citizens of all countries as well as the international organisations to become aware; in their relations with the countries where Kurds live, they should become aware of the real politics conducted by the leaders of these countries and their politics concerning the Kurds . No manifestation of cruelty, no national or social injustice, no inpinging on human rights and no genocide should go unnoticed. Neither should it remain without consequence for those countries allowing these actions."

Andreï SAKHAROV


EDITOR'S NOTE

On 14th and 15th October 1989, the Kurdish Institute of Paris, supported by the France-Libertés Foundation, organized an International Conference on the theme 'The Kurds: human rights and cultural identity", at the Centre of International Conferences atAvenue Kléber. Two hundred and forty personalities and 85 journalists from 32 countries of Eastern and Western Europe, the States, the Near East, North Africa, Asia and Australia participated in this two day conference aimed at appraising the fate of the Kurdish people and considering together ways of heightening international public awareness of the issue.

 

Amongst the personalities present were: Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand, Elena Bonner, Ann Clwyd, British MP, member of Labour's shadow cabinet, Georgina Dufoix, former Minister of Social Affairs and Jeri Laber, director of Helsinki Watch, Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Secretary of State for Humanitarian Action, Hocine Aït-Ahmed, former Algerian Minister, Lord Avebury, President of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group, Clairborne Pell, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the American Senate, Peter Galbraith, Member of the same commission, William Eagleton, Ambassador of the U.S.A., Thomas Hammarberg, former President of Amnesty International and Director of the Save the Children Fund, Professors René-Jean Dupuy, College de France, as well as numerous writers, academics, MPs and representatives of human rights' defense organizations (cf. annex 1 list of participants) . The former Austrian Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky and the Soviet academician Andrei Sakharov who, due to ill health, were unable to come to Paris, sent messages of solidarity. Mrs. Catherine Lalumière, Secretary-General of the European Committee, and Messrs Willy Brandt, Edward Kennedy, Giovanni Spadolini, President of the Italian Senate, joined in sending messages of sympathy to the conference.

 

As regards Kurds, as well as independent personalities, all the political factions of Kurdistan and the main organizations of the Diaspora were represented, mainly by their most senior members (cf. annex 1 list of participants). In defiance of their party, which had strictly forbidden them to come to Paris, 8 Kurdish MPs from Turkey came to attend the conference and one of them, Ibrahim Aksoy, deputy of Malatya, presented the current situation of the Kurds in Turkey. Also, the USSR authorized, for the first time, a delegation of Soviet Kurds, led by the academician, Nadir Nadirov, to take part in a Pan-Kurdish meeting.

 

The gathering together in the same room of so many foreign personalities and Kurds from such diverse political and cultural horizons constituted a very important event in itself. It was the first time in Kurdish memory, that political leaders and intellectuals from all parts of Kurdistan had assembled to discuss an issue. For a large number of Kurds and observers, the essential fact was that, over and above divisions and divergences, the Kurds were capable of meeting to discuss problems which concerned them all: the defence of human rights and their threatened cultural identity. The presence of numerous foreign personalities showed that the wall of silence, which has enveloped the Kurdish drama for decades, was at last, in the process of being broken down and that the moment had come to take the Kurdish question out of the Near East ghetto and to internationalize it.

 

As well as a widespread media response, particularly welcome at a time when the Kurdish drama seemed to be fading into oblivion, the conference also had considerable political repercussions, during the course of several months, in countries such as Turkey and Iraq. It also constituted a major step towards the internationalization of the Kurdish issue, giving rise to a debate at the American Congress, a conference in Moscow and numerous other initiatives.

 

Having devoted a special 176 page issue of the Kurdish Institute's "Information and liaison bulletin" to the impact of this conference on public opinion and the media and to the reaction of the states and the Near Eastern press, we are publishing the proceedings of the conference in this volume. Save oral interventions during the debate, two talks whose authors do not wish them to be published and brief telegrams and messages of sympathy, all the contributions presented or adressed to the conference appear in the present collection.

We would like to express our gratitude to the France-Libertés Foundation, to the Secretary of State for Humanitarian Action and to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the help and assistance which they kindly gave in the organization of this conference. We would also like to thank all the personalities who by their presence, their testimonies or their messages contributed to the radiance of the conference.



ENSURING THE SURVIVAL OF THE KURDS

Lord AVEBURY *

 

The theme of this conference is human rights and cultural identity. But the cultural identity of any people is determined by their political status. And all other human rights presuppose the right of self-determination; without self -determination, not only is cultural freedom denied, but many of the other rights enshrined in the UN Convenant on Civil and Political Rights are flagrantly and persistently violated.

 

We see that truth exemplified today in the Baltic states annexed to the Soviet Union; in Eritrea, a former colonial territory which was handed over to the new imperialists in Addis Ababa by the UN; in Tibet, annexed by the People's Republic of China 30 years ago; in East Timor, still occupied by tens of thousands of Jakarta's troops; in Palestine, where Israeli repression fails to still the clamour for self-rule; in the Western Sahara and West Papua, both causes where the UN violated its own rules for decolonisation, and most tragically, in Kurdistan.

 

More than 70 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson set out his aims for the self-determination of nations in the celebrated Fourteen Points. Number twelve specifically mentioned the nationalities which were living under Ottoman rule, and in the Treaty of Sevres, an independent Kurdish state was foreshadowed.

 

The Western nations who devised these arrangements were really more concerned to dismember the Ottoman Empire than to promote the right of self-determination for the Kurds and the Armenians. But the fact remains that they pledged their word and then dishonoured it.

 

This places a huge moral responsibility on the present leaders of the United States, France and Great Britain. They fought two world wars ostensibly for the maintenance of the rule of law and the preservation of human rights including particularly the rights of self-determination, and they gave detailed and specific assurances to the Kurds. Today they can and do rely on the more limited formulations of the United Nations, which are concerned only with former colonies of the European powers. But is the right of a people to determine their own future to be confined to those former colonies, together with the states which had already achieved it ?

 

We need an extension of the formulas in General Assembly resolutions 1514 and 1541 of 1960, which set out the rules for self-determination. Surely it must be wrong that a people having distinct attributes of language, culture, ethnicity and religion should be denied that right merely because they had never been part of a separate political entity. In the case of the Kurds, the emirates of the 14th to early 19th century had all those attributes, but never developed into a nation state because of their feudal relationship with the Ottomans. This was neither better nor worse than European colonialism, or the Cho-Yon link between the Mongols and Tibet. All implied the political control of one people by another, and all ought to be just as unacceptable in an era of equality.

 

But the Kurdish people cannot wait for the slow process of international reforms. Throughout the whole of the Middle East, the Kurdish people are facing an emergency.

 

In Iraq, the government has embarked on a massive programme of forced relocation. Under the pretence that Kurds have to be moved from their historic territory because they could be in the path of Iranian aggression, the regime has systematically uprooted tens of thousands from their towns and villages, and compelled them to move as much as 100 kilometres away.

 

This policy, which aims at the destruction of the Kurds as a separate community - what Leo Kuper has termed "ethnocide" - follows a programme of extra-judicial execution of Kurds, and the use of chemical weapons to exterminate Kurdish men, women and children. The notorious poison gas attack on Halabja, which the Iraqi government brazenly attempted to deny, was the most infamous crime in the long list of atrocities committed by the Saddam Hussein regime.

 

In Iran, the Kurds suffered terrible losses during the Iran-Iraq war. Many Kurdish towns such as Sanandaj were bombed heavily. It seemed until recently that following the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini, there might have been an accomodation between Kurdish leaders and the new government in Tehran. However, the murder of the General Secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran in Vienna recently, by Iranian secret agents, shows that the Ayatollah's policy of crushing the Kurds has continued after his death.

 

In Turkey, as in Iraq, the authorities are trying to eradicate the Kurdish identity. Already, hundreds of thousands have been moved from their homes in Kara Maras and neighbouring areas. The army, ostensibly searching for guerrillas, force the whole of the population of a village out of their houses, beat them up, subject them to all sorts of indignities, and take the young men away to army camps, where they are detained and invariably tortured.

 

Turkey has applied to join the EEC. It is, of course, absolutely unthinkable that we should admit a country which is inflicting such barbaric treatment on a defenceless minority whose only crime is to be different. In Britain last weekend a Kurdish refugee burned himself to death rather than be sent back to his Turkish persecutors, and another lies seriously ill in hospital.

 

I do hope, that as we consider the human rights and cultural identity of the Kurds over the next two days, we shall recognise that the very survival of the Kurds as a people is threatened. It is not a matter of j ust a few cases, to be carefully documented and perhaps made the subject of a presentation at the UN Human Rights Subcommission in Geneva. It is a wicked conspiracy by the leaders of several states to destroy a people, because that people aspires to the self-government we offered them and then snatched away. 


* Chairman of the Parlementary Human Rights Group, UK.


OPENING SPEECH

Danielle MITTERRAND *

OPENING SPEECH

Danielle MITTERRAND * Ladies and Gentlemen,

Upon opening this session, as I have been honoured to do by the Chairman, I wish to express my pride.

Proud, I am, because France-Libertés could not hope to express in a better way its reason for existing and at the same time, to carry out its self-elected mission.

Proud, I say, because it is not a coincidence that for years we have been present along side our Kurdish friends, as they defend their identity and claim their cultural homeland.

Together, we have succeded.

Proud, also, because the Foundation kept its commitment to organise this meeting.

December 10th, 1988 marked the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man. France-Libertés presided over a committee where the right to speak was handed over to the young, those who together will make tomorrow and what will be the .21st century.

The testimony of a young Kurdish girl overwhelmed the auditorium. Her words later led me to the refugee camps in Turkey.

I will not dwell on this mission now. In a few days, before an audience in the American Congress, I will talk of this journey and its consequences.

Proud, I am also, because France has welcomed hundreds of refugees who have settled themselves in the towns here. They will take the time needed to install themselves. So our country has once again given the feeling and proof that it is a country of refuge.

Today, you will discuss the problems of cultural identity, and the respect of human rights for a population of 25 million people.

Yes, proud, despite one regret, even a vexation. Hardly eleven months ago, as we announced the organisation of this conference, encouragements proliferated and there was no lack of propositions to support us.

I am forced to remark, like you, that the defections have been numerous. In this year in which human rights have so often been evoked, one was allowed to think that, in the name of the 1789 declaration, solemnly read and commented on in so many places, we would gather together here in so large a number. We are here to say that "relentlessly, without pause" the fight continues to live otherwise, to live in solidarity. Solidarity, yes, is an idea which is making its way.

"Relentlessly, without pause", France-Libertés and its President will speak on behalf of those women, those children, packed in refugee camps, where the only crime is to be a Kurd.

"Relentlessly, without pause", I will defend the right of expression, the right to unite, the right to propose. I hate weapons and violence because I am convinced that the strength of the righteous man lies in his power to tell, to witness, to convince and to organise in solidarity in reply to repression.

The session is open.

________________
* President of the France-Libertés Foundation

 


A MEETING LONG AWAITED

Dr. Bernard KOUCHNER *

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know that you come from 32 different countries, and I have never seen as many Kurds from various countries gathered in the same room to speak about culture and the defense of human rights. I am moved and proud that it is France which has hosted this Conference in this way. However, I am not the one to welcome you as it is the Kurdish Institute of Paris which has organised this meeting with the help of Danielle Mitterrand's France-Libertés Foundation. They are the ones to be thanked. If I speak for a few minutes and if, tomorrow, I officially chair one of the round table discussions there is something I would like to stress. The fact of our presence here is not a question of an attack against one government or another, or of interference in the internal affairs of any country, but of a hope concerning the defense of human rights and humanitarian actions. There is much to be done. Now, in a private capacity, I will tell you how much I have waited for this gathering. How, since the seventies, with Mustafa Barzani, with all the leaders I know, and with Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, we prepared this meeting. We spoke of this meeting over a year ago with our friend Abdul Rahman, and we even chose the title of these two days, with him.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know that you come from 32 different countries, and I have never seen as many Kurds from various countries gathered in the same room to speak about culture and the defense of human rights. I am moved and proud that it is France which has hosted this Conference in this way. However, I am not the one to welcome you as it is the Kurdish Institute of Paris which has organised this meeting with the help of Danielle Mitterrand's France-Libertés Foundation. They are the ones to be thanked. If I speak for a few minutes and if, tomorrow, I officially chair one of the round table discussions there is something I would like to stress. The fact of our presence here is not a question of an attack against one government or another, or of interference in the internal affairs of any country, but of a hope concerning the defense of human rights and humanitarian actions. There is much to be done. Now, in a private capacity, I will tell you how much I have waited for this gathering. How, since the seventies, with Mustafa Barzani, with all the leaders I know, and with Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, we prepared this meeting. We spoke of this meeting over a year ago with our friend Abdul Rahman, and we even chose the title of these two days, with him.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know that you come from 32 different countries, and I have never seen as many Kurds from various countries gathered in the same room to speak about culture and the defense of human rights. I am moved and proud that it is France which has hosted this Conference in this way. However, I am not the one to welcome you as it is the Kurdish Institute of Paris which has organised this meeting with the help of Danielle Mitterrand's France-Libertés Foundation. They are the ones to be thanked. If I speak for a few minutes and if, tomorrow, I officially chair one of the round table discussions there is something I would like to stress. The fact of our presence here is not a question of an attack against one government or another, or of interference in the internal affairs of any country, but of a hope concerning the defense of human rights and humanitarian actions. There is much to be done. Now, in a private capacity, I will tell you how much I have waited for this gathering. How, since the seventies, with Mustafa Barzani, with all the leaders I know, and with Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, we prepared this meeting. We spoke of this meeting over a year ago with our friend Abdul Rahman, and we even chose the title of these two days, with him.

 

I wish once again in a personal capacity for success in this work, that is, success for the Kurdish people and a lessening or their suffering. I remember two particular sentences of Ghassemlou, one which is often repeated : "the Kurds are not talked of enough because they haven't hijacked any planes and because they haven't taken any hostages". It was not a way of regretting, but of being proud of the Kurdish ways. It was because he had faith in democracy, as I hope you all do. It was because he was one of the greatest fighters for democracy and because it was along this path that he chose to guide the Kurdish people. The other sentence was: "You are perhaps the denied, the Kurdish people have no other friends but their mountains". This must be, contended, contended, forever contended. It is true that the problems are immense; 25 million people, 5 countries, claims of autonomy, enormous legal and political difficulties. Today, however, after many meetings, today perhaps more so than any other day, marks a hope on the road to democracy. The democracy to which my friend Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou aspired for the Kurdish people.

 

I ask you to take a minute's silence in memory of all the Kurdish fighters and civilians who fell and died under atrocious circumstances over the past few years. Also, in memory of the three men who were strangely assassinated in Vienna, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, Abdullah Ghaderi and Fazil Rassoul, who represented in their three different nationalities, the honour of the Kurdish people. I am sure that during these two days we will be taking the path they showed us.

Thank you.

__________________
* State Secretary to Humanitarian Action




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