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Why does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not belong to the Kurdish People?

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By Hamma Mirwaisi and Alison Buckley

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In his second public hearing as head of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) (1), Australian  Judge the Honorable Michael Kirby explained that the Commission was based on the United Nations (UN) charter's establishment and adoption of the principles of universal human rights. The origin of Principles One and Two of the charter is in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The Honorable Michael Kirby claimed that Universal Human Rights belong to everyone on planet earth.

After World War I the Western powers used the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne to divide the Middle East into many small countries. In the same year Reza Khan overthrew the Qajar dynasty in Iran declaring himself Shah of Iran (2), instead of Ahmad Shah Qajar, while General Kemal began the process of secularizi ng and democratizing Turkey after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Under his new title, General Kemal Ataturk met Reza Khan in 1934 to discuss Adolf Hitler's ideology of one nation under one flag and one language as an excuse for massacring Kurdish and other people in Iran and Turkey. Together they claimed to be developing the T urco-Persian or Persianate civilization.

Supported by Persian leaders determined to eliminate particular sectors of the Iranian population, Reza Shah attempted to impose modernization on Iran, resulting in the widespread abuses throughout the country. Kurdish people (the ancient Median people) from the Lur, Lak, Elami, Gorani, Kurmanji, Zaza, Sorrani and other language regions became his victims (3) and his son Mohammad Reza Shah continued the policy. Meanwhile in Turkey, after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ordered Kurdish tribesmen to help eliminate the Armenians, he turned on the Kurds and murderously attacked them.  

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France's exit of Syria after World War II saw Arab authorities divide the Kurdish land into three regions, settling their people strategically between each one.  Since then they have taken citizenship rights from half a million Kurds who no longer have documents to get out of Syria, and have subsequently been enslaved to Arabs.

US influence in the Middle East after World War II oversaw the division of the Kurdish people's land into four countries: Iraq and Syria, ruled by Arabs and created by the United Kingdom and France; Iran, governed by  Persians; and Turkey under the rule of Turks. It seems that the super powers' adoption of the indifferent, callous and domineering attitudes of the Kurds' last Western conqueror Imperial Rome still contributes to the suffering of these people, who have been denied their human rights for the last hundred years.

Since Western powers such as the UK, France and the US, and Eastern powers such as Russia and China asserted or gained control of the UN, neither bloc has shown any concern about the Kurdish people's human rights.

The United Nations COI into the DPRK was established by a resolution of the UN Human Rights Commission on 14 March 2013.  Its mandate was to investigate human rights violations in the DPRK, including the right to food, violations associated with prison camps, torture and inhumane treatment, arbitrary detention, violations of the right to life, freedom of movement, and enforced disappearances, discrimination and violations of freedom of expression. It operated for a period of one year. In addition to the Hon. Michael Kirby as Chair, the other members of the COI were Marzuki Darusman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK and former Indonesian Attorney-General, and Serbian human rights campaigner Sonja Biserko.

During Saddam Hussein's era alone the Iraqi Government used chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians and buried 182,000 Kurds, mostly women, children and elderly men alive in the al-Anfal Campaign (4), but the UN has not ordered an inquiry into the Human Rights of Kurdish people in Iraq.

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Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 to 9 April 2003, when he was deposed during the 2003 invasion by a US led allied coalition. After his capture in ad-Dawr, near his hometown Tikrit he was incarcerated at Camp Cropper. The US forces handed him to the Iraqi Government to be judged by an Iraqi court of law. On Sunday 5 November 2006, he was sentenced to death by hanging.

 

The former Iraqi dictator was convicted of charges related to the 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shi'a Muslims. His execution took place on Saturday 30 December 2006 (5). He was sentenced to death by hanging, after being found guilty and convicted of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi Special Tribunal for the murder of 148 Iraqi Shi'ites in the town of Dujail in 1982, in retaliation for an assassination attempt against him.

 

In short, 148 Arab Shi'a Muslims were deemed more important than 182,000 Kurds. This and other treatment of the Kurdish people implies that they are not to be afforded human rights in an unjust world apparently administered in favour of the interests and to the advantage of the super powers and their allies.

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The situation of Kurds in Turkey has been and still is similar. The Republic of Turkey has made various human rights commitments, expressed in the 1982 Turkish Constitution, Part Two of which guarantees "fundamental rights and freedoms,' such as the right to life, security of person and right to property. In addition, Turkey has signed a number of treaties indicating it will comply with international human rights conventions. But since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey by General Mustafa Kemal, later known as Atatürk, the Turks have killed or caused the deaths of millions of Kurds (6), have burned thousands of their villages and forcefully moved them to Turkish areas where they have been ill-treated. Kurds are less than second-class citizens in Turkey. Following the pattern established last century, Turkey's Government now persecutes 25 million Kurds and murders them at will, but the Western powers and Eastern powers have not asked the UN to investigate Turkey's human rights record.

 

Today, the Iranian Government consistently abuses the 20 million Kurdish and Lurish people living in its territory and kills Kurds daily [7] but neither the Western powers nor the Eastern powers have asked the UN to investigate the Islamic Republic of Iran's (IRI) treatment of these ethnic groups in its communities.

 

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Hamma Mirwaisi was exposed to the oppression of Kurds while still a youth, as his education was frequently interrupted by Iraqi government harassment. Forbidden from entering university in 1968, he had little choice but to join the peshmerga (more...)
 

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