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Kurdish agony - the forgotten massacre of Qamishlo

03/24/2004

In a dark corner of the Middle East, perhaps 100 or more Kurds have been murdered by the Syrian government. The massacres took place beginning on March 13, 2004, in Qamishlo (Kamisla) and other towns. There were no statements of concern by the White House or EU leaders and the UN did not meet over this issue. In fact, nobody seems to care at all. In 1987 Saddam Hussein massacred about 5,000 Kurds using gas warfare against the town of Halabja. Then, as now, the world was almost totally indifferent. Perhaps in 15 years, people will ask why nobody spoke out about Qamishlo, just as now they are asking why nobody spoke out against the massacres carried out by Saddam Hussein. There are no hardly any irate editorials about the Kurdish massacre, because it is not expedient and nobody cares. Perhaps the Kurds will be ignored and allowed to die quietly unless they send suicide bombers to explode themselves in New York, attracting the attention of the Nation and the Independent.

The misfortune of the Kurds is the same as the misfortune of the Jews before 1948 and the Palestinians today - they are a people without a homeland. In a world of nation-states, they have no official status, so they are non-persons. They are spread out over an area that covers a part of northwest Syria, northwest Turkey and northern Iraq and Iran. In 1987, the world ignored the massacre of Kurds by Saddam, and again in 1991, when Kurds revolted after the American-led invasion of Kuwait, they were abandonned to their fate. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed by Saddam in 1987 and 1991. In Turkey and Iran and Syria, they are denied their rights. In Iraq, they are now treated at best as a "problem" that stands in the way of Iraqi unity and must be placated with some autonomy, rather than as human beings with rights. US policy toward the Kurds is as always dictated by expediency. Though the Kurds are the firmest supporters of the US presence in Iraq, the US cannot afford to alienate the Turks, who are unhappy about any manifestations of Kurdish independence near their own borders. It may be impossible to satisfy both the demands of justice for Kurdish rights, and the quite legitimate aspirations of Iraq and Iran and Turkey for sovereignty and unity, but there is quite some distance between a benevolent compromise and looking the other way when people are murdered.

Video footage of the Qamishlo massacres can be viewed here, but you cannot view that footage from inside Syria - it is blocked. An account of the situation in Qamishlo about a week later can be viewed here

More Kurdish links:
http://kurdmedia.com/ - This site includes an extensive list of links.
http://www.qamislo.com/2004/indexEnglsih.php - This site was apparently set up to publisize the Qamishlo massacres.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000231.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by Moderator @ 11:25 AM CST [Link]

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Replies: 4 comments

In an evironment of political discourse that is alarmingly quick to deploy rhetoric such as "Zionist racism," "Israeli apartheid," and "powerful Jewish lobbies" in Washington, how come there is no discussion of the evident ethnic-religious triumphalism of the Arab-Muslim establishment?

Can it really be a simple historical accident that (except for Israel) there are no non-Arab expressions of national self-determination between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the Persian Gulf? Or that there is an unbroken chain of nation-states between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the Pacific Rim (except for Israel and India) that are governed by Shari'a law?

Posted by Zionista @ 03/24/2004 05:44 PM CST

The comparison of the Palestinians' plight to that of the Kurds and that of the Jews before 1948 is hardly apt. The Kurds and the pre-1948 Jews did not repeatedly themselves undermine political processes aimed at giving themselves a state, and did not consistantly and uniformly utilize terror as their method of choice for statehood. As such, the Kurds deserve infinitely more support and consideration.

Posted by Meron Lavie @ 03/25/2004 07:00 PM CST

Hello,
Here are replies to two comments. Meron, the principle that every people deserves self-determination seems to be independent of the sins of particular governments. Nobody suggests that Iraqis should be left without a state, and though the suggestion was made regarding Germany in 1944, it was quickly abandoned. The suffering of individual Palestinians is not excusable on the basis of what their leaders did or did not do. Your comment is the symmetric argument to the claim of anti-Zionists that we Jews do not deserve a state because we are very wicked and dispossessed the Palestinians.

Zionista- Between the North Atlantic and Central Asia there are no non-Muslim states. At one time they were all Christian monarchies. There are only a few states that are really governed by Shari'a law in the area you mentioned: Iran and Saudi Arabia come to mind as examples. Lebanon and Turkey and Syria and Jordan and even Egypt cannot really be said to be governed by Shari'a, despite constitutional provisions in some of those countries. Christians are not "dhimmi" in Lebanon. They serve in the army and pay taxes like everyone else. Women do not have to wear veils in those countries, do they? So it is not Shari'a law. Turkey is certainly not governed by Shari'a since 1922! Turkey is not an Arab state either. Turkey and Iran, both non-Arab, are chief obstacles to Kurdish independence, and Iran objected even when it wasn't an Islamic Republic. By the way, I think that China is between here and the Pacific rim, and they aren't governed by Shari'a.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Moderator @ 03/26/2004 01:00 AM CST


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