- Paul RyanSpeaker of the House
Declaration of Conscience
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Declaration of Conscience
For the Kurdish People of
Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria
AFTER centuries of heart-crushing human tragedies, it is time, past time, to break their cruel chains of bondage that shackle a once-free people, and as Thomas Jefferson eloquently declared in the American Declaration of Independence, a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind” requires them to proclaim their imperishable shout for freedom.
This tyrannized people with the age-old song of liberty on their lips powerfully shout from the gloomy darkness of despotism their desperate plea to live in the bright sunshine of liberty, equality and freedom—crying out for Just Independence which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them to.
Therefore, be it resolved:
Whereas a native population of thirty to forty million Kurds still live in their ancestral homeland known as Kurdistan, about 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 93 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, Iran, Iraq, Syria—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 international 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 predicament of the Kurds and Kurdistan has been compared 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; and
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;
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
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