Declaration of Conscience
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August 20, 2011
Whereas a native population of thirty to forty million Kurds still lives in its ancestral homeland known as Kurdistan, approximating the size of Texas or France, situated in the heart of the Middle East, as attested by impartial historians and geographers of the world;
Whereas the Kurds and Kurdistan, once partitioned and administered by the comparatively benign rulers of the Ottoman and Persian Empires under policies respecting Kurdish linguistic and cultural rights, became the spoils of war in the course of the World War I and were partitioned again by the British, French, and Russian colonialists, placing them at the mercy of these powers and of the predatory modern nationalisms of the Turks and the Persians;
Whereas the forces of predatory nationalism, imperial domination, and racism plunged the world into two deadly world wars in the last century, prompting former President Woodrow Wilson to declare his support, in the course of the first one, in the Twelfth of his famous Fourteen Points, for the rights of subject peoples, including the Kurds, to ‘‘an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development’’;
Whereas at the peace conference in Paris after World War I, the Kurds and Kurdistan enjoyed, on paper at least, a brief acceptance and recognition based on the principle of self-determination in the Treaty of Sevres, but subsequently were partitioned again, this time in a conference at Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 24, 1923, without protection for their basic human and cultural rights, a partitioning that has for the last 88 years exerted its poisonous influence as one of the gravest political crimes haunting the history of modern Europe;
Whereas in the then-created countries of the modern Middle East—Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and also the recently formed Soviet Union—the Kurds were subjected to a policy of ethnic repression and ‘‘social engineering’’ schemes, sometimes inspired by European fascism, for their forced assimilation or displacement, resulting in involuntary mass migrations or ‘‘transfers’’ which would now be called humanitarian catastrophes, and creating tyrant masters and rebel subjects throughout Kurdistan;
Whereas it continues to be unjust that the inter-national community recognizes countries of the modern Middle East such as Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, but not Kurdistan, divided between these others without the consent of its sons and daughters, thus effecting the dismemberment of a nation like the hacking of a human being limb from limb, and bringing about under the ruthless sway of modern nationalisms the withering of a Kurdish civilization as old as the dawning of history;
Whereas the present denial of national and cultural rights to the Kurds has also been compared to the forced marriage or involuntary servitude of a people to many different masters or regimes, a servitude often imposed by handcuffs or even by an outright reign of terror, which, in a world guided by President Thomas Jefferson’s principles of representative democracy and freedom of expression, must outrage what he might today call “a decent respect to the opinions of humankind”;
Whereas the present predicament of the Kurds and Kurdistan has been compared likewise to a people with one principle of vitality and sensation divided not by one artificial border but by several, imposing barriers of separation which stretch into hundreds of miles and resemble the infamous Berlin Wall, with Kurds on different sides of these borders subjected to alien systems of government and even to ethnic cleansing or cultural genocide, the crime of ‘‘barbarity’’ decried by the renowned jurist Raphael Lemkin and later made by him and others a basis for the modern concept of genocide;
Whereas the Kurds are willing to accept their neighbors as equals and to honor the lessons of their own oppression by respecting the full minority and nationality rights of other peoples living within their homeland of Kurdistan, but regard continued submission to this oppression as destructive of the very fabric of mercy and justice which knits diverse peoples together in peace;
Whereas the Kurds hope for the day when their loved ones will not be tortured, their linguistic and cultural rights will not be brutally suppressed, and the riches of their land will be enjoyed by all the inhabitants and varied national groups of Kurdistan;
Whereas this generation of Americans vividly experienced the tyranny of catastrophic and unpredictable mass violence on September 11, 2001, when its advent assaulted and terrorized the citizens of these shores, visiting indiscriminate death upon thousands of innocent civilians; and
Whereas for successive Kurdish generations, every day has seemed like either a September 11, or the eve or after-math of such a catastrophe, including a repeated reign of terror from the air inflicted by more than one government to whose offices the Kurds have been en-trusted, and in at least one notorious campaign in Iraq even the use, along with mass disappearances and murders, of chemical weapons causing not only immediate death and destruction, but also genetic mutations in the very DNA of survivors giving rise to the birth of babies with alarmingly increased numbers of congenital mal-formations:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress urges the President to support the proposition that the United States respects and accepts the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination and urges the United States Government to conduct its foreign policy so as to reflect and achieve this aim.
- Speaker of the House
- U.S. House of Representatives
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Speaker of the House John Boehner.
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