Human Rights violations in Kurdistan – an overview

By Heman Mahmud:

Human rights are those fundamental rights and legitimate freedoms accorded to human beings in the world. Examples of these basic rights and freedoms, which are contingent on the rights granted to the individual in any given society, include the following: civil and political rights such as the right to life, the right to vote in freedom, the right to free expression, the right to equality before the law, the right to socio-economic equality and the right to cultural equality. In other words, allowing people the right to participate in a culture and the right to food, work and also education on an equal basis with all members of society.

The status of human rights in Kurdistan, which is divided between four separate states and does not have a government of its own, is linked to the human rights situation in the four countries to which it is subject. To find out what stage of development human rights have reached in Kurdistan we must discuss, quantitatively and qualitatively, the human rights situation in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria.

In general terms, comparing these countries with the standards laid down in the Convention on Human Rights reveals many shortcomings. For example, Turkey seeks to join the European Union. But one of the problems Turkey has, which has been highlighted by the European states, is its non-implementation of human rights. For example, the Kurdish people who constitute an important and sizeable part of Turkish society, do not have their basic human rights.

In Iran, whose system of government is based on Twelve Shiism and whose institutions are grounded on a Shiite form of Islam, the individual’s rights are measured against Islamic notions and not in accordance with internationally agreed norms. Not only do human rights in Iran have many evident shortcomings, but also they have no foundation in the internationally agreed Human Rights Convention. A very clear example of the non-implementation of human rights in Iran is the events that followed the 10th presidential elections, when the people’s vote was rigged to a very large extent. And in the ensuing demonstrations, activists were brutally suppressed or killed and many academics and intellectuals were detained in prison. The Kurds, who are one of the constituent bases of Iran, have no basic rights and cannot even use or educate themselves in their native language.

Syria, a Baathist regime and effectively a dictatorship doesn’t grant any fundamental rights to its citizens. The relentless efforts of President Assad against protesting Syrian citizens confirm how ruthless this administration is. The Kurds who are living as a people in Syria have no fundamental rights, not even the right to exist as Kurds.

Iraq, prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein was a Baathist regime which did not recognise any of the rights laid down in the Convention on Human Rights. After Saddam’s removal at the hands of US and British forces, with the aim of establishing a government based on democracy, and it was expected that human rights would flourish in Iraq and, in particular, in Kurdistan. But there is still has a long way to go.

Kurdistan has a particular culture linked to Islam and, up until now, equal rights among various groups in society – and particularly the rights of women in comparison with those of men – have not been implemented. The high rate of self-burning among women indicates the difficult situation in which women are living compared to that of their fellow countrymen, namely the men.

To conclude, human rights in the four countries in which the Kurds are living are being violated. The governments of those countries do not believe in any human rights convention and give no importance to this issue. Iraqi Kurdistan, after the fall of Saddam, is in a better human rights situation and intends to work harder in the future to make headway on this issue. The Kurds in Syria, which is recognised as being a dictatorship, do not even have the right to exist. In Turkey, the Kurds are pressing for basic rights, denied them for generations, under a new constitution.

Iran, which has an Islamic and Shiite government, does not recognise human rights and everyone is defined as a Muslim. The government says that Islam grants its own form of rights to the Muslims. In other words, both Muslims and national minorities are treated in accordance with Islamic, Shiite principles. The Kurds and all other national minorities have not been granted any rights which are in accordance with the Convention of Human Rights. Moreover, the Islamic Republic does not recognise that any rights from a foreign source, i.e. the UN convention, can be granted.

3 Responses to Human Rights violations in Kurdistan – an overview
  1. Balen Jamal
    June 19, 2011 | 16:19

    there’s one point that we should remember; when people talk about human rights, in general, they refer to those rights that are supported or violated by the ruling political systems, not by cultural backwardness. Violations of Kurdish human rights in Iran, Syria, and Turkey are automatically connected to the governments of those countries. What we should concentrate on, however, is the violations of human rights that are occurring every day in south of Kurdistan i.e. in the federal state of Kurdistan/Iraq. It is the tribal ruling parties, not culture, of the region that openly promote anarchism and, in some cases, barbarism. This is not a coincidence; it is the basic requirement for the establishment and maintenance of totalitarianism. It is not in the interest of the two tribal ruling parties of the region to comply with all the basic human rights that the West advocates, for a simple reason: based on the theories of Milton Friedman, freedom is directly connected to free market and the last thing that the authoritarian regime of south Kurdistan want is to let the market be free: free market means competition, price self-stabilisation, and it also means less or no money for the tribes to feed their mercenaries and militiamen. Some people think that the economy of the Kurdistan state in Iraq is based on the free market. This is – dazzlingly obviously – far from the truth. A simple example: instead of freedom of speech, the ruling families of Kurdistan/Iraq support and fund tribalism. Why? By controlling a single tribal leader they control a mass of people. Control the market, discourage science and technology, discourage social and political freedoms, support and fund individuals as leaders of tribes, indoctrinate and brainwash youths with distorted, incorrect historical events in which you praise and attach to yourself the goods that you didn’t do and condemn crimes and treacheries that you did and un-attach them from yourself. You do this and you will have what we have in south Kurdistan.

  2. Hawar Osman
    June 19, 2011 | 22:16

    Balen, when is the last time you went to Kurdistan?

    P.S. Friedman was a freemason whose policies are disgusting at best. That is not really the model we should follow. Read a little bit more and see what type of economists Kurdistan SHOULD follow. Lets stop trying to act like the zionist entity

    • Balen Jamal
      June 20, 2011 | 04:41

      Dear kak Hawar, I have never left Kurdistan, not even for a second; nowadays you don’t need to be physically somewhere to learn about its human rights and economic status.

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