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Kurdish activists call for international mediation of Kurdish issue

Today's Zaman

22 May 2008, Thursday | TODAY’S ZAMAN  ANKARA

One thousand Kurds living in Turkey and European countries have urged certain leading figures of the international community to get involved in the Kurdish issue by mediating a peaceful settlement. 

The call to the international community was voiced through a declaration titled “Call for a Peaceful Settlement of the Kurdish Question in Turkey,” published on Tuesday in the International Herald Tribune and the French daily Le Monde.
Many intellectuals, writers and academics in Turkey have tried for many years to achieve a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue, the 1,000 signatories said in the declaration.

“We express our appreciation and gratitude even though their efforts and initiatives have, unfortunately, not produced conclusive results so far. That is why we are calling on European countries and the United States, who bear part of the historic responsibility for the tragedy experienced by the Kurds throughout the 20th century, not to support policies of negation and violence. Let them help prepare favorable ground for a peaceful settlement by empowering one of their statesmen to act as mediator -- someone like Bernard Kouchner, Tony Blair, Martti Ahtisaari or Felipe González, who have been involved in the settlement of the Irish, Basque, Catalan and Kosovar questions,” the declaration noted.

Certain demands were listed as “a basis for Kurdish people’s common minimum demands” in the declaration signed by deputies of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), former members of Parliament, intellectuals and leading Kurdish figures well-known by the European public.

“The constitution that is being drawn up must not define citizenship on the basis of belonging to Turkish stock. It must put an end to the denial of the Kurdish people’s existence. Kurdish citizens must have a system of public education in their own language at all levels. Their rights to use their language in public, to create and to develop media in the Kurdish language, to found associations, institutions and political parties to develop their culture must be guaranteed. On this basis, in order to create a climate of peace and confidence and, once and for all, to turn the page of violence and armed confrontation, an all-inclusive political amnesty must be decreed, and the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party ] must lay down its arms in accordance with procedures yet to be defined. In the same way, Turkey’s so-called ‘village guard’ militias must be dismantled,” the declaration stated.

“These demands do not call into question existing borders. They express fundamental minimum human rights recognized by all democratic countries and possessed by their citizens,” it noted.

Back in December 2004, a similar declaration titled “What the Kurds Want in Turkey” appeared in the International Herald Tribune, French daily Le Monde and German daily Allgemeine Zeitung. In a highly controversial demand, it said Turkey should grant the same rights to Kurds that Ankara seeks for the Turkish Cypriots.

Today's Zaman Kurdish activists call for international mediation of Kurdish issue