Next week, the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) will bring together a variety of greatly respected Kurdish representatives, writers, and members of parliament for a two-day conference entitled The Quest for Democracy in Turkey: Universal Rights and Kurdish Self-Determination and the Struggles over the New Constitution. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign is very pleased be involved in the event.

As a stark reminder of the obstacles that face the Kurdish people and those working in solidarity with the movement, we reproduce below a statement the Kurdish Human Rights Action Group (KHRAG) from South Africa, written in August last year, describing what happened when a PiK/KHRAG delegation attempted to deliver a letter by one of the patrons of the EUTCC, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to the Turkish Embassy in London. The letter requested that Erdogan opt for a peaceful resolution to the escalating conflict in Turkey, but, despite prior arrangement with the Embassy, the delegation was refused entry and were not permitted to deliver the letter.

PRESS RELEASE 11 August 2010

 

TURKISH EMBASSY REFUSES LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP TUTU


“I was delighted to join Rev Matthew Esau and supporters of peace and justice in Turkey to deliver a letter from Archbishop Tutu at the Turkish Embassy in London.I firmly support Archbishop Tutu’s belief that we will only achieve lasting solutions to conflict through peaceful negotiation and we must strive to bring peace to the region and I will back those in London’s Kurdish and Turkish communities in London who are working hard to bring peace, justice and reconciliation to Turkey and across the Middle East.” Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London

“It is high time that there were proper talks between the Turkish government and the political representatives of the Kurdish people. It is extraordinary that the Turkish Ambassador refused to even open the door to the personal representative of Archbishop Tutu. So we will send the letter and continue the campaign for justice.” Jeremy Corbyn MP

 

A letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu was to be personally delivered by Rev Matthew Esau, Vice-Chair of KHRAG and a delegation of UK supporters to the Turkish Embassy in London, today, Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 11.00 am. However despite prior arrangement the delegation were met on the doorstep by a police officer who not only refused entry to the Embassy but informed them he was under strict instructions not to allow the delivery of any letters.

Rev Esau was accompanied by supporters of “Peace in Kurdistan – the campaign for a political resolution to the Kurdish Question, Ken Livingtone, former Mayor or London Siobhain McDonagh MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jonathan Fryer, lecturer and Liberal Democrat politician, Frances Webber, human rights lawyer and  Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cllr Ali Demerici

In a letter [1] dated July 2010, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and the Chair of ‘The Elders’ [2] called on the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the political head of Turkey, to use his office and his influence to bring a lasting end to the conflict in Turkey with regards to the Kurdish question.

The Archbishop complimented Mr. Erdogan and his government for the support given to the people of Palestine, saying “We regard your pronouncements as the right ones and a declaration that matters of conflicts between nations can be settled only through peaceful negotiated talks amongst apposing groups.”

The Chair of ‘The Elders’ pointed out however that he was “concerned at the escalation of the conflict between the Turkish and the Kurdish peoples in which innocent young people, from both sides, are losing their lives.” Tutu continued, “We know from experience that no-one can emerge as the victor in such a conflict.” Like the situation in the Middle East, where “Peaceful negotiations are the only lasting solution to their problems, we are firmly of the view that the Kurdish question can likewise be resolved through peaceful negotiations with the genuine leadership of the Kurdish people.”

Archbishop Emeritus Tutu offered the help of the Kurdish Human Rights Action Group (KHRAG) “a human rights organisation in South Africa (who are) prepared to help in the initiative and (who will) assist in mobilising international support for the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question in your country.” [3]

Rev Esau spoke of his shock saying: “I am deeply disappointed in the behaviour of the Turkish Embassy here in London. We informed them over a week ago that we wished to deliver a letter from Archbishop Tutu. We spoke to the Personal Assistant of the Ambassador and she assured us that even if the Ambassador could not meet with me she would be able to take the letter from me. On arriving at the Embassy this morning I spoke to the policeman who was standing in front of the door, he said he was under strict instructions not to let anybody come in or to accept any letters. This behaviour is unbecoming towards representatives of Archbishop Tutu and we take it as a slap in the face to the Chair of the Elders, Archbishop Tutu. We will protest this behaviour to the highest level in the Turkish government. Not even during apartheid when we were fighting the racists and those who were oppressing black people in South Africa did our Embassy here in London or anywhere else in the world refuse to receive letters. The letter from Archbishop Tutu is a magnanimous request to Prime Minister Erdogan to find a way of settling the Kurdish Question and if this is the way in which the Turkish government approaches the offer of help from Archbishop Tutu then we are very saddened but we will not stop our efforts to try and engage the Turkish government.”

Jeremy Corbyn MP who was part of the delegation echoed Rev Esau’s concerns saying: “It is high time that there were proper talks between the Turkish government and the political representatives of the Kurdish people. It is extraordinary that the Turkish Ambassador refused to even open the door to the personal representative of Archbishop Tutu. So we will send the letter and continue the campaign for justice.”

Ken Livingstone said “I was delighted to join Rev Matthew Esau and supporters of peace and justice in Turkey to deliver a letter from Archbishop Tutu at the Turkish Embassy in London.

“I firmly support Archbishop Tutu’s belief that we will only achieve lasting solutions to conflict through peaceful negotiation and we must strive to bring peace to the region and I will back those in London’s Kurdish and Turkish communities in London who are working hard to bring peace, justice and reconciliation to Turkey and across the Middle East.”
—–
ENDS

Notes:
1. Letter attached to this release, Turkish translation can be obtained by emailing [email protected].
2. The Elders is a group of former world leaders which aims to tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems: www.theelders.org.
3. KHRAG launched an international million signature campaign for the release of Abdullah Ocalan as a first of several steps paving the way for peaceful negotiations. The release of Mr Ocalan and other political prisoners, and the un-banning of Kurdish leaders will be an important step towards peace in Turkey: www.khrag.org  / [email protected]

FOR INTERVIEWS CONTACT
Rev. Matthew Esau, KHRAG: 07770751976 / [email protected]

KHRAG is supported in the UK by Peace in Kurdistan

Download a copy of Archbishop Tut’s letter here: Tutu letter to Erdogan