The second day of the 18th International Kurdish Conference, hosted by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), continued to address critical issues relating to Kurdish rights and politics.
Historical Perspectives on the Kurdish Issue
Historian Prof. Hans-Lukas Kieser discussed his research on the Lausanne Treaty, describing it as “a twisted road” leading to an “ultranationalist” Turkey. He referred to the treaty as “peaceless”, marking “a decade of war and genocide” and noting its exclusion of Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Arabs and Persians. Kieser stated that the treaty established a “disdain for the rule of law and plural democracy” in Turkey, with Turkish nationalists at Lausanne using an “exterminatory discourse” against Armenians and Kurds.
International Dynamics of the Kurdish Question
Jan Yasin Sunca highlighted the international nature of the ‘Kurdish Question’, pointing out that the denial of Kurdish self-determination led to Kurdistan being colonised and recolonised. He said, “The ‘Kurdish question’ is a ‘Kurdish conundrum’ involving four different states and forms of resistance,” and discussed how gains by Kurds in either state were perceived as threats by the others.
Journalist Amed Dicle emphasised that Kurds were punished for nation-building efforts, mentioning the “shattered homeland” and “annihilation tactics” of states occupying Kurdish territories.
Kurdish Resistance and the European Union
Dicle also highlighted the sacrifice of over 11,000 Kurdish fighters in defeating ISIS in Northern Syria and Iraq, and pointed out the progressive nature of Kurdish-led North and East Syria’s (Rojava) social contract. He criticised the EU for criminalising Kurdish resistance, such as blacklisting the PKK, and accused the EU of ignoring historical injustice against Kurds.
Şermin Güven discussed how Rojava is affected by climate change, ecological destruction and military attacks by Turkey, specifically mentioning Turkish drone attacks causing water shortages.
Global Politics and Kurdish Rights
Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Nursel Aydogan critiqued the emergence of the nation-state model post-WWI, underlining the Kurds’ exclusion from statehood. She also touched on the dominance of imperialism and capitalism in creating a unipolar world.
American journalist Lindsey Snell criticised Sweden’s concessions to Turkey for NATO entry, pointing out Turkey’s support for ISIS and its occupation of Afrin (Efrin) and other regions.
The Role of Abdullah Öcalan
Several speakers, including EUTCC Chairwoman Kariane Westrheim and Raziye Öztürk from the Asrın Law Office, focused on the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, emphasising that he must be released in order to achieve peace. They criticised Turkey for not adhering to both its own laws and international laws regarding the conditions of Öcalan’s imprisonment.
Kurdish Feminist Movement
Speakers including Elif Kaya and Soheila Shahriari emphasised the radical nature of the Kurdish feminist movement and its foundational role in the development of democratic confederalism in Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). MEP Özlem Alev Demirel connected the struggle for women’s rights with the self-determination of occupied peoples.