Kurdish women organised a workshop in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority Diyarbakır (Amed) province on Sunday, on the occasion of the centenary of the Treaty of Lausanne, to discuss the reconstruction of a participatory and libertarian democracy.
The event, titled “Women Discuss Lausanne on its 100th Anniversary”, was hosted by the Free Women’s Movement (Tevgera Jinên Azadi, TJA). TJA is a Kurdish women’s movement that advocates for women’s rights, particularly within the context of the broader Kurdish struggle for self-determination and autonomy.
The Treaty of Lausanne, signed a century ago, had profound effects on the geopolitical landscape of the region, particularly for the Kurdish people, dividing them up among four nation states, namely, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
The workshop was attended by a number of prominent women, including politicians like Beritan Güneş, a Mardin (Mêrdîn) MP of the Green Left Party, and academics such as the historian Ayşe Hür.
Hür pointed out that the treaty established the Republic of Turkey on the basis of Turkish nationalism, which oppresses minority peoples by various methods. “For the Kurds, it is the centenary of the loss of their autonomous status in lands where they had lived autonomously for hundreds of years” she said, concluding that the Kurds want to regain their status of a century ago.
Hür further highlighted Turkish revisionism regarding Lausanne, pointing out that Turkish nationalism has attempted to expand beyond the minimum conditions of the Treaty, giving examples such as its incorporation of Hatay within its borders, its execution of operations in Cyprus, and its attempted incursions into Syria, Iraq, Libya and North Africa.
Despite these challenges, Kurdish women have been instrumental in preserving the Kurdish consciousness and ensuring that their language and culture continue to thrive, Hür added.
Menice Gülmez, the deputy chairwoman of the Human and Freedom Party (PİA), described the Treaty of Lausanne as a “demolition.” However, she expressed hope for the future, stating, “Women will rebuild the new century. Women will liberate these lands.”
Gülmez stressed the need for unity among Kurds to overcome the impact of the Treaty, saying that it can be achieved “by establishing national unity, by Kurds becoming united in their common interests and acting together”.
The workshop’s findings are scheduled for publication in the coming days.