Below is a translation of Seydi Fırat’s latest article for Yeni Yaşam Newspaper, published on 27 June.
This year marks the centenary of the Treaty of Lausanne, which was the result of negotiations among international powers that took place in Lausanne, Switzerland in November 1922. The treaty, known as the Treaty of Lausanne, has had significant implications for the Kurdish people.
The Treaty of Lausanne divided Kurdistan into four parts, and since then, the Kurdish people have endured immense suffering. The treaty facilitated the destruction of the Kurdish existence through assimilation, massacres, destruction of cultural sites, demographic changes, and the suppression of the Kurdish language and identity. This genocidal treatment has continued throughout history, leaving the Kurdish people marginalised and without recognition. Regrettably, these crimes against humanity persist as we enter the new century.
The Kurdish question has become entangled with the interests and alliances of regional and global powers, which has further exacerbated the plight of the Kurdish people. No other group in history has faced such a prolonged and widespread attack fuelled by the collaboration of various powers. The inhumane treatment of the Kurds and their struggle for rights and justice have become a tragic tradition.
The repercussions of the Treaty of Lausanne extend beyond the Kurdish people to the entire region. It has given rise to monism, militarism, and racism, allowing oppressive and anti-democratic governments to maintain power. These governments have engaged in extra-legal and inhumane practices that have had severe consequences.
To overcome the destruction and darkness brought about by the Treaty of Lausanne, it is necessary to confront its legacy. Both Western-oriented liberalism and Eastern-oriented nationalism, as well as major political factions, have largely avoided addressing the ongoing Kurdish question and its tragic implications. Those who claim to be anti-imperialist, anti-reactionary, and proponents of democracy have shown little commitment to resolving the Kurdish issue and supporting Kurdish rights. Their lack of consistent action has hindered progress and reinforced imperialist agendas, regional reactions, dictatorial regimes, occupations, and oppressive ideologies.
Had these actors taken a stand in favour of resolving the Kurdish question, today’s reality could have been more democratic, humane, and peaceful. A fair legal framework would have been established between the Turkish, Persian and Arab peoples and states and the Kurdish people. However, since the Treaty of Lausanne, the Kurdish people have been engaged in a significant struggle for freedom, rights, and justice. This struggle has challenged the policies established by the treaty and continues to impact regional and global geopolitics. It is crucial to strengthen this impact.
The upcoming Kurdish Conference in Lausanne on 22-23 July holds great importance. The Kurdish people in all four parts of Kurdistan expect Kurdish political forces, intellectuals, and non-governmental organisations to present a united front and a shared position. Meeting the expectations of the Kurdish people requires a political and diplomatic struggle that matches their great determination for freedom, rights, and justice.
*Seydi Fırat is a Kurdish politician and former deputy co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP).