|The Struggle for Human Rights in the Kurdish Regions Continues|
During this Human Rights Week, a week devoted to commemorating and upholding the values and principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Kurdish Human Rights Project calls for international recognition of and commitment to the basic human rights of all the people living in the Kurdish Regions.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that all every person has the right to live in security, free from the fear of torture, persecution, death or other punishment. However today, Kurds face systematic and serious assaults on their fundamental human rights on a daily basis with governments of the Kurdish regions denying them peace in their multi-ethnic nation-states: Iraq , Iran , Syria , and Turkey . Regimes to which Kurds are subject have sought to counter perceived threats to their territorial integrity by forcibly destroying Kurdish identity. This is in addition to horrific violence carried out by armed opposition groups, bent on perpetuating the cycle of violence.
KHRP welcomes Secretary General Kofi Annan's call on Friday 8 th December for states to give real meaning to the principle of ‘Responsibility to Protect' and for states' security concerns not simply to pay ‘lip service' to the defence of human rights, but to be built on it. In the Kurdish Regions, sadly, this is far from being the case:
In Iraq, violence continues to plague the country, threatening to engulf the Kurdish north, severely hampering the region's development, and making daily life increasingly unsafe for the region's inhabitants;
In Iran , human rights defenders are being harassed, threatened with arbitrary detention, and are suffering torture and inhuman treatment;
In Syria , thousands of Kurds cannot vote or own property. They are being denied access even to basic rights, such as healthcare and housing.
In Turkey , as the violence during this past year has evidenced, heavy-handedness and indiscriminate use of force by the Turkish police and security forces have yet to become a thing of the past. Tens of thousands of Kurds continue to be internally displaced within Turkey , with measures for compensation and resettlement hopelessly inadequate. Kurds in Turkey continue to be deprived of the basic rights of freedom of expression, and freedom of association, facing prosecution and imprisonment on charges of ‘disseminating terrorist propaganda' for simply discussing the existence of ‘the Kurdish issue', or making public addresses in Kurdish.
The reform process within the Turkish state has slowed considerably, as has been recognised by the recent European Commission Progress Report on Turkey 's accession bid. KHRP is pleased to observe the EU demonstrating that it is serious about the implementation of accession criteria during the current impasse over Cyprus . It is unfortunate, however, that while EU ministers are meeting tomorrow to discuss this economic issue, the opportunity is being missed also to highlight failures by Turkey to meet accession criteria relating to human rights. In failing to flag the issue of human rights at this juncture, the EU has failed to address an issue that is central to the bloc's reason for being, while sending the unfortunate message that economic concerns far outweigh the concern for human rights in the accession process. This, sadly, reflects a general failure on the part of the international community to live up to its responsibilities:
It has made no visible move to support the path to peace in the Kurdish regions and counter moves towards violence and continued repression.
It has not insisted, nor used available incentives to persuade, repressive governments fully to adhere to internationally agreed upon standards of human rights.
Nor has it supported all states' efforts to redress past wrongs and unequivocally speak out against violence wherever it originates.
By failing to recognise the link between violations wrought against Kurds in all regions and the overarching problem of the failure of states' to comply with international human rights norms and legislation, the international community is refusing to fully appreciate the wider context and origins of the conflict. Instead it consistently reacts with a myopic view, treating each incident, or each country, as an isolated event and separate from each other. This week, KHRP calls on the international community to take a real stand for peace by addressing the roots and scope of this conflict.
As part of humanity, we are duty-bound to fulfil our obligations to these oft-neglected people by applying pressure and naming the violations and their causes. Peace comes through active dialogue, not passive response. During this Human Rights Week, join KHRP in renewing your commitment to human rights in the Kurdish regions.
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