Posted by: hevallo | February 10, 2010

Desmond Tutu Speaks on Turkey and The Kurdish Question.


“The Kurdish Conflict, Political Dialogue & Peace Building.”


“I greet you on the occasion of the 6th International Conference on the EU Turkey and the Kurdish people, with a greeting of Peace and my best wishes for a successful conference. I apologize that my schedule of involvements prevents me from being with you.

When I accepted to be a patron of the “EU Turkey Civic Commission Conference, six conferences ago, it was because I wanted to support its objectives; “to promote human rights for all citizens in Turkey, respect and protection of minorities and a peaceful, democratic and durable solution to the Kurdish question.”

I did so because what we have achieved in South Africa is what we desire for the people of the World and particularly in places where human rights are still being violated.

I recognized that the Kurdish people are the oldest indigenous people living in the land between the Tigress and the Euphrates Rivers, referred to as Mesopotamia.

There they live with their own culture and their own language which they have nurtured and protected over time. The Kurdish people have had a very rough journey, holding on to their right to be recognized as a people with rights culture and language.

As you meet in this conference, discussing,” the Kurdish conflict, political Dialogue and Peace building” I want to encourage you to deliberate in such a way that a resolution to the conflicts can be found.

In this sense South Africa is an example of what is possible. You will recall that in the 1990s things changed dramatically in our country and in 1994 it changed for the good of all South Africans, forever. No more will we return to the horrors of the past.

This came with a price that had to be paid by all South Africans not only by those who were deprived of their human rights and dignity. The journey involved in depth and serious dialogue between the opposing parties.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (T RC)(which I had the great honour and privilege of Chairing), ad as its objectives the very things that you desire to Resolve the conflicts in Turkey.

However, before the process could get underway the playing fields (so to speak) had to be levelled.

This involved the release of political prisoners, particularly those held on Robben lsland, t he return of exiles, the unbanning of political movements and the cessation of hostiles from both the South African Defence Force and the armed wings of the African National Congress(A NC) and the Pan Africanist Congress(P AC).

In 1990 when F.W. de Klerk made the announcement that political prisoners would be released and that Nelson Mandela would be amongst those released and he unbanned the political movements, ANC, PAC, SACP, South Africa was on a path of no return. The restoration of human rights and dignity for all South Africans was in sight.

I mention this because it is a story worth repeating, not because of its success (which we cannot be the judge of) but because it holds out an example of what is achievable when opposing parties join in a common endeavor.

And what greater endeavor can there be than to ensure that a minority people whose desire is Peace, Human Rights and Dignity are supported; who want to share their culture and language nurtured and protected over generations, with the nations living around them; whose desire is to be free from the shackles of oppression?

In January 2005, a delegation of International Human Rights Lawyers, led by Mr. Justice Essa Moosa, a South African High Court judge, made certain recommendations after their visit to Turkey.

They recommended “that Turkey’s application for membership of the European Union must be favorably considered subject on certain conditions”. The conditions are that;

1 Duly authorized representatives of the Turkish Government must enter into dialogue with duly authorized representatives of the Kurdish people, to create the conditions for peaceful negotiations and settlement of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey.

2 An immediate cessation of armed hostilities by both parties;

3 Demilitarisation of governmental institutions and other organs of State and the immediate disbanding of Village Guards;

4 The creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which makes provision for an amnesty process for those involved in the conflict. Such a Commission should be conceived as part of the bridge building process designed to help lead the Turkish nation, in all its cultural manifestations, away from a deeply divided past to a future based on the recognition of Human rights and democracy.

In a subsequent visit to Turkey in April 2009 Mr. Justice Essa Moosa accompanied by two South African Human Rights Lawyers namely; Adv. Joey Moses and Adv. Denzil Potgieter, reaffirmed the recommendations just mentioned and went further to say that “the peoples of the Middle East have been given an historic opportunity to negotiate a lasting peace in the area without outside influence and interference.”

This opportunity was further encouraged by President Barack Obama when he visited Turkey early in 2009. He made positive overtures to the countries of the Middle East which bodes well for the efforts to build lasting peace and for development. I support President Obama’s plea for Peace in the Middle East and a settlement of the Kurdish question.

I must say that I am surprised that so little has been done since these recommendations were made. Instead in the last quarter of 2009 we heard of the banning of so-called pro- Kurdish politicians. Amongst the 19 banned from political involvement in Turkey was the Kurdish Human Rights activist, Ms. Leyla Zana, a winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Leyla visited me in Cape Town two weeks before she was banned by the Constitutional Court of Turkey. I fail to understand the logic of the banning. Leyla came across to me as one who is committed to her people and who wants to see peace, stability, security and dignity for her people.

I would have thought that instead of stopping her from her activities that she and other Kurdish leaders be engaged in the way recommended by the International Human Rights Lawyers.

My dear friends the world will not be at peace as long as peace bypasses the Kurdish people. In fact we in South Africa will not be completely free until Turkey, Palestine and lsrael, parts of Africa, lran & lraq, Afghanistan, and countries where conflicts persist, are at Peace.

Please ensure that your deliberations focus on the settlement of the Kurdish conflicts. The sooner the conflicts are settled so the sooner will the Turkish and Kurdish people show the World that peace is possible, that human rights and dignity can be restored and that together as a national the manifestations of the cultures and languages can be shared.

The World is waiting for the restoration of human rights and dignity to the Kurds.

The World wants to embrace a united Turkey where all are free to share their culture and language and embrace each other’s culture and language.

This is the age of Peace, Respect, and Human Dignity, let us pledge ourselves at the beginning of the 2nd decade of the 21’t Century to ensure that Peace will reign that respect will reign that human dignity will reign, that Turkey will embark on a process to promote human rights for all its people, respect and protection of minorities and a peaceful democratic and durable solution to the conflicts with the Kurdish people, by doing so entry into the European Union will be gained.

I wish you well in your deliberations in the Conference and sincerely hope that it will contribute meaningfully to the resolution of the Kurdish question in Turkey.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Cape Town – South Africa



  1. This Desmond Tutu is a hypocrite. He says he is a friend of Kurds but if he had his way, then Saddam who committed genocide (Anfal) against the Kurds would still be in power. He pretends he is for peace when he is for a murderer dictator like Saddam being in power and he uses religion language to make his point like a very disgusting manipulative preacher.

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