Founding statement

Peace in Kurdistan/Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish question.

October 1994

The time has come for a political solution to the eleven year war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish people.

Since 1984, an increasingly destructive war has been raging between the Turkish state and the armed Kurdish opposition in the southeast, where the majority of the inhabitants are Kurds. As many as 3 million people have been displaced from their homes, some to become refugees in Europe, and others to live in poverty or destitution in the cities of western Turkey, or the shanty towns of Diyarbakir.

This war has been accompanied by the endemic torture, extra-judicial killings, disappearances and arbitrary imprisonment of tens of thousands of people suspected of ‘separatism’, including MPs, writers, journalists, trade unionists, lawyers and human rights activists.

Justice Michael Kirby, a distinguished international jurist, has said that “the notion that a people can be ruled indefinitely against their will by governments comprising a majority of other peoples is as offensive as colonialism was”. The armed opposition in Kurdistan have said that they want to exercise their right of self-determination, not by creating a separate Kurdish state, but through home rule within the Kurdish region. No threat exists to the integrity of Turkey, when a negotiated peace could lead to an amended Turkish constitution.

We believe that, as Turkey edges closer to Europe, she must comply with the European Human Rights Convention and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Copenhagen Declaration of June 1990, which requires states to ‘protect the ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity of national minorities on their territory, and create conditions for the promotion of that identity’.

We appeal to the governments of Europe, to urge the authorities in Ankara to solve the problems of the southeast through negotiation with representatives of the people.  We ask the OSCE and the government of Turkey to discuss the help the OSCE could give in restoring and maintaining peace in the region. We invite the people of Britain to join us in reaching out to all the people of Turkey – Turk, Kurd, Lazi, Abkhaz, and many others – so that together we can stop the war.

Lord Avebury, Harold Pinter, John Austin MP, Estella Schmid

October 1994

Sponsored by

Original signatories: John Austin MP, Rudi Vis, Tony Benn MP, Lynne Jones MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Paul Flynn MP, Cynog Dafis AM, Leuan Wyn Jones MP, Simon Thomas MP, John Gunnell MP, Lord Avebury, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Lord Dholakia, Lord Hylton, Lord Rea, Lord Kilbraken, Lord McNair, Neil Ascherson, journalist; Noam Chomsky, writer; John Berger, writer; Julie Christie, actress; Lady Antonia Fraser; Arthur Miller, writer; Margaret Drabble, writer; Michael Holroyd, writer; Prof Ernst Gombrich OM, art historian; Tom Stoppard, playwright, Edward Bond, playwright; Edward Albee, playwright; Naguib Mahfouz, writer; Bernice Rubens, writer; Moris Farhi, writer; Francis D’Souza; Adrian Mitchell, writer; David McDowell, writer, Sheri Laizer, writer; Dr Robert Olson, Professor of Middle East and Islamic History, University of Kentucky, US; Esmail Khoi, Iranian writer; James Kelman, writer; Jasper Ridley, writer; Reza Baraheni, Iranian writer; Richard Leigh, writer; Anthony Barnett, writer, Charter 88; Sheri Laizer, writer; Stephen Watts, poet; Molefe Pheto, South African writer; Marie Ryan, journalist; Dafyyd Iwan, Welsh singer and composer; Tim Gospill, editor ‘Journalist’; George Evgeniou, theatre director; Maria O’Shea, Kurdish Studies Forum, SOAS; Bruce Kent, International Peace Bureau; Dr Bill Rolston, University of Ulster; Desmond Fernandes, lecturer at De Montford University; Gareth Peirce, solicitor; Mike Mansfield QC, barrister; Mark Muller, barrister; Timothy Otty, barrister; Frances Webber, barrister; Ian A. McDonald QC, barrister; Louise Christian, solicitor; Verena Graf, Secretary General of International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, Geneva; Ken Cameron, ex-FBU General Secretary; Bill MacKeith, President Oxford Trade Union Council; Elliot Philip etc (plus 500 supporters by December 2000)