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KURDISH SUPPLEMENT, July 2001 All articles from The Kurdistan Observer, www.kurdistanobserver.com These articles make disagreeable reading for opponents of sanctions on Iraq since clearly the Kurds of Iraq have an interest both in maintaining the no-fly zone and in preventing a normalisation of the situation which could result in their being reincorporated into Iraq. But one thing that emerges very clearly is that the present arrangement offers them very little in the way of longterm security. They cannot have any trust in the Westı, and they are suffering from the sanctions regime, which, the writers suggest, is being applied to them as rigorously as it is to S.Hussein. Which, if it is true, is insane. It also appears that everything they receive through Oil for Food is ordered by Baghdad. I canıt grasp the details of this or understand how it can possibly work, let alone, as it appears, work rather well ... * UK drops Turkish dam plan [The Observer has also been told by senior government sources ... that it would be impossible to provide export guarantees for British firms involved in the project with such a damning indictment hanging over it.ı Cynics may also note that Doubts have also been raised in the report about the ability of the Turkish economy, which has been undermined by a recent currency crisis, to support the £1.25bn project.ı] * Iraq massing troops along Kurdish-held north * Contribution to the hearing at the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament about the new country report on Iraq from the Dutch Foreign Ministry [the point at issue here is whether or not refugees from Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan can justifiably claim to be fleeing a place where they are at risk. The argument is that it is very far from being a safe havenı. The independence of the area has no international recognition and no international provision exists, apart from the singularly inadequate no-fly zoneı, for its defence]. * The Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan need a political solution [develops a similar case but also stresses the harmful effects of sanctions on the Kurd-controlled areas] * "Life and society in the Kurdish safe haven: ten years after the uprising in Northern Iraq", by Michael Rubin [how the Kurds are adapting themselves to the requirements of the radiant future of humanity, aka the End of History aka the New World Order] * Life and death of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou [account of one of the leaders of the Kurdish movement in Iran] * Banasiaw dispatch, by Michael Rubin [account of the sufferings of refugees from the areas of Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan still under Iraqi control] A further long article, * Lifting sanctions on Iraq: Center-South vs.Kurdistan by Alexander Sternberg will be sent separately. It gives the best case I have yet seen for taking the disparity between Kurdistan and Iraq as proof that much of the suffering in centre-south Iraq is due to lack of will, or deliberate policy, on the part of the Iraqi government. * UK DROPS TURKISH DAM PLAN by Kamal Ahmed The Observer, London. 1st July The government is to abandon its support for the controversial Ilisu dam in Turkey after an official report that it commissioned on the environmental and human rights impact of the project found that it had failed to meet international standards. The report was commissioned in 1999 by Stephen Byers, who was then Trade and Industry Secretary, as the 'definitive assessment' of the project which campaigners say will ruin the lives of tens of thousands of local people. The study, which arrived on the Government's desk on Friday, is said to be 'very negative' about how well Turkey has dealt with allegations that building the dam would lead to the displacement of more than 70,000 Kurds in the south-east of the country and the destruction of the archaeologically significant town of Hasankeyf. The Observer has also been told by senior government sources that the report makes for 'difficult reading' and that it would be impossible to provide export guarantees for British firms involved in the project with such a damning indictment hanging over it. 'There would need to be significant changes in Turkey's attitude to Ilisu if the Government was to continue backing this,' said one official. Although the Department of Trade and Industry will insist no final decision has been taken and that there will now need to be a long period of consultation, officials admitted that human rights concerns were central to their support. Just before the general election, Richard Caborn, then a Minister at the DTI, said: 'If these [the report's] conditions are not satisfied, then there will be no support.' Doubts have also been raised in the report about the ability of the Turkish economy, which has been undermined by a recent currency crisis, to support the £1.25bn project. 'We have always argued that the impact of this would be terrible for both the Kurdish people and the environment,' said Matt Phillips, the senior campaigns manager with Friends of the Earth. 'The test is now whether Tony Blair puts the interests of big business ahead of the interests of human rights.' Two years ago the Government said that it was 'minded' to back the construction of the dam. The Prime Minister overruled concerns raised by the Foreign Office that the building of the dam across the River Tigris would lead to increased tension with Turkey's neighbours, Syria and Iraq. Both countries rely on the river for scarce water resources. Byers was also concerned by the negative ethical message that supporting the dam sent out. * IRAQ MASSING TROOPS ALONG KURDISH-HELD NORTH Iraq Press, June 30 Iraq is sending fresh reinforcements of infantry and armor to several spots along the semi independent Kurdish enclave in north, travelers said. The travelers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said more troops were deployed last night, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and infantry units. The buildup is an apparent bid by President Saddam Hussein to test the will of both the United States and Britain whose warplanes police a no-fly zone over northern Iraq to protect Iraqi Kurds from attacks by Iraqi armed forces. The travelers, arriving here from the government-held city of Mosul, said more reinforcements were already ferried to Sheikhan on the border of the Kurdish enclave. They said troop movements went ahead without interruption throughout last nigh. The troops, they added, took up positions in areas close to the Kurdish-held region. It is not clear whether the redeployment is routine or part of a new gamble by Saddam. But the buildup has already caused concern in Iraqi Kurdish ranks. An Iraqi army thrust into the area will certainly prompt the allies to respond with aerial bombardment. The United States has repeatedly warned Saddam not to cross into the Kurdish areas. Analysts say a foray into Iraqi Kurdistan is the last card left in Saddam's hands following his decision to halt oil exports and suspend cooperation with U.N. weapons monitors who have carried out no inspections in the country for over two years. Residents of the areas where the new reinforcements have taken place told Iraq Press that the intentions behind the buildup are not clear. Even Iraqi army commanders are not aware of ''the real targets'' of the latest redeployment, they said. But the buildup comes as the state-run media have mounted a campaign to discredit Kurdish parties and the status-quo in the region. Iraqi newspapers issue almost daily vitriolic attacks of Kurdish politicians, describing them as traitors and agents. The Kurdish service of Iraq's satellite television has recently been running interviews with pro government Kurdish personalities in which they hit out at Kurdish rebel leadership in the north. Meantime, fuel prices eased in the area following a softening of measures to crack down on smugglers and their supply routes. Fuel prices had surged nearly 50 percent when the government early this month tried to impose severe restrictions on movement to Kurdish-held areas. * CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEARING AT THE SECOND CHAMBER OF THE DUTCH PARLIAMENT ABOUT THE NEW COUNTRY REPORT ON IRAQ FROM THE DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTRY , by Thomas Uwer, 25th June 01 Disputes over asylum policies always are a struggle over definitions. The refugee regime established by the 51 Convention was concerned with providing asylum to persons in danger of persecution. The struggle over definitions was first and foremost fought out around the questions: "Who is to be considered a refugee?" and that means: "Who is to be provided with asylum?" But when attention turned to seeking durable solutions to the plight of refugees, the question at the heart of the struggle over defintions changed - from "who is to be protected?" to "where is the person to be protected?" The thinking which currently informs the international refugee regime holds that refugees are best located as close as is safely possible to the scene of their displacement. But precisely how such areas are to be defined remains unclear. The Dutch Foreign Ministry uses the term "internal resettlement alternative". Others call it "safe haven, "safe relocation" or "internal flight alternative". When we discuss the questions of how such an "alternative" is to be defined, whether or not it is safe, and whether its stability is of a durable nature or is a transitory phenomenon which may collapse at any time, then we have to keep in mind that the question which we are addressing soleley is: "Where are such refugees to be protected?" Despite, the fact that people who flee Iraq are in need of protection from a regime which the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq, Mr. van der Stoel, once described as having only "few comparisons in the world since the Second World War" is indisputable. This provides us with the first and primary criterion of definition: However one calls that area, it can only be considered as an "alternative" for refugees if it is safe and that is in the case of Iraq: safe from the persecution of Saddams regime. The Foreign Ministryıs report claims to give a clear overview of Northern Iraq. It does so by providing detailed information on the human rights situation and the social and economic situation in that area. But however detailed such information may be, and whatever conclusions the report may reach on that basis, it would appear that someone forgot one simple and salient fact: the principal reason why people flee from that region, i.e. the definite fear that the Iraqi regime could regain control of the area. It is particularly noteworthy that the report pays attention to developments as far back as the colonial period in the history of Iraq and during the rule of King Faisal in the 1920s. But the report makes a grave mistake of ommission. It fails to give a clear definition of the region which includes the legal and international conditions for Kurdish de facto self rule, the legal and actual status of the region in relation to Iraq and its neighbours, and the legal and actual mechanisms of protection which may, or may not, safeguard the region. We should pay some attention on that: In 1991 the Allies´ Operation Provide Comfort established a so called `safe haven´ in Northern Iraq. At that time about 1.5 million Iraqi Kurds were at or near the Iranian and Turkish border, fleeing Saddam Hussein´s wrath. The Ministry´s report takes "Operation Provide Comfort" as its starting point, but in doing so it fails to mention two fundamental facts: Firstly, that safe haven was limited to a small area constituting less than a third of the region as a whole. It consisted of the area arround the towns of Zakho, Dohuk and Aqura. But this is not indivated in the map provided by the ministry in annex one of the report. Secondly, "Operation Provide Comfort" ended on 7th June 1991, when all allied forces withdrew from Northern Iraq. Since then there has not been any international military force in place which could keep Baghdad´s forces at bay. The only `protection mechanism´ that remained was a `no-fly´ zone. But this covers only part of the region, and does not protect the region as a whole from ground attacks. Nearly half of the de facto Kurdish-ruled area falls outwith the `no-fly´ zone. It is noteworthy that this is likewise not indicated on the map at annex one of the report. "Operation Provide Comfort" was based on UN Security Council Resolution 688. A resolution which affirmed "the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Iraq". The significance of this affirmation should be obvious: Northern Iraq is not independent, it is a frictional separated part of Iraq. It is neither internationally recognised nor adequately protected. The status of the so called safe haven in relation to the Iraqi regime can be summarised in three basic facts: Firstly, the withdrawal of central-Iraqi administrative structures in 1991 did not in any way represent an abandonment of legal sovereignty by the Iraqi government. Secondly, the territorial integrity and the national sovereignty of the Iraqi state continued to be recognised. Thus, for example, all international measures taken in Northern Iraq require legal sanction through a bilateral agreement with the Iraqi government - not with Kurdish authorities -, on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding. And, thirdly, as a consequnce of the foregoing, the regional Kurdish government and administration are not recognised. Thus, "the ambivalent legal and political status of the area has prevented an adequate political settlement which provides durable international guarantees for the population´s safety. The problems (were) treated first and foremost in humanitarian terms, at the expense of a lasting political solution." (Netherlands Kurdistan Society/Iraqi Kurdistan 1991-1996 - Political Crisis an Humanitarian Aid/Amsterdam 1996) The Foreign Ministry should also be reminded that huge parts of the humanitarian programme in Northern Iraq, run by international NGOs such as the Dutch Consortium, are regarded as illegal by the Iraqi government. In assessing the realities of the putative safety provided by the safe haven, the following points must be borne in mind: -no UN or other peacekeeping contingents are stationed in Northern Iraq or nearby in Turkey, -no monitoring commission has ever been established to deal with threats and attack by Iraqi troops, - no resolution or declaration of an international body has ever recognised the "self rule" of the area, -no resolution or declaration of an international body has ever expressed the will to safeguard and protect the region, -no resolution or declaration by any body has ever established a demarcation line between Baghdad ruled Iraq and the Kurdish territories. This became all too evident in September 1996: In just a few hours the Kurdish Capitol Arbil was overrun by Iraqi troops and more than one-hundred wanted persons were executed in the course of the first day of incursion. US humanitarian assistance collapsed. Arround a thousand Kurds had to be evacuated in an ad-hoc operation while others fled to Iran. This was a traumatic experience for every Kurd: it became obvious that there were no international guarantees to protect the so-called safe haven from persecution by the Iraqi government. The question of how the region is to be defined remains unresolved. Since 1991, the absence of any legal definition resulted in the absolute absence of legality in general. The Kurdish rulers for example never changed but adopted Iraqi law and justicial structures. Those laws and structures which have been cited by the International Commission of Jurists as "a clear example of how a prevailing system facilitates violations of human rights" (International Commission of Jurists/Iraq and the rule of law/Geneva 1994, page 9) How can they be described by the Ministry as independent? At least, the unresolved status might explain the vagueness of the reportıs definition of Northern Iraq as "that part of the Republic of Iraq which is controlled by Kurdish parties in the north of the country." So, if Northern Iraq is to be defined by the rule of the Kurdish parties, rather than by the borders of a fixed territory, then its boundaries may change at any time. Tomorrow it may dwindle away - as was the case in 1991 - to a thin line along external borders which a population in flight attempts to cross. Significantly, the prevailing circumstances and conditions in that region do not suffice to allow it to be defined as a fixed territory. So how can they suffice to allow it to be declared safe for refugees? Obviously, the main threat to the Kurdish region comes from the Iraqi government. The Iraqi state continues to assert its legal sovereignty over the Kurdish region. The official Iraqi statements demonstrate that there cannot be any doubt that the Iraqi government is willing and able to once again extend its rule into Northern Iraq in the future. A regime which has continuously carried out a policy of ethnic cleansing of Kurds in the city of Kirkuk in recent years. In December 1998 the Kurdish authorities in Northern Iraq stated: "some 200,000 ethnic Kurds have been evicted from areas under government control since 1991." (Report on Iraq, Human Rights Watch 1999 Report, published 2000; page 2.) The Kirkuk governate has been re-named Al-Taımim, which means "nationalization". (At this point the Ministry´s report fails to give a translation.) Amnesty International has described how detention, confiscation of property and confiscation of the ration cards of the Kurdish inhabitants of the Kirkuk governate have been part of the Arabization campaign. (Amnesty International Report: MDE 14/10/99, "Iraq: Victims of Systematic Repression", November 1999; page 13.) This is also a regime which disposes of the military means to reconquer the region, and which is determined and authorised to do so. Large contingents of Republican Guards with tanks and heavy artillery have been deployed along the demarcation line throughout the past two years. The Kirkuk military airport is just some minutes away from the one million inhabitant city of Suleymaniyah south of the 36° parallel, that means outwith the `non-fly´ zone. Who will protect the Kurds if Saddamıs tanks roll north again? This is something which could happen at any time. And this would be ten times worse than the collapse of another so-called safe havenı, which once existed in Bosnia. By that I mean Srebrenica, a name which speaks volumes about the bankruptcy of the concept of safe havensı, and which exposes them as death-traps rather than as places of refuge. The catastrophe of Srebrenica could be repeated in Northern Iraq. In the city of Arbil, for example, where 1.3 million people live just three kilometres away from government troops. If the Iraqi tanks were to begin rolling now, they would arrive in the centre of Arbil before we end our hearing. And the no-fly zoneı will not prevent them from turning Arbil into a second Srebrenica. It is not idle speculation to draw up such a horrific scenario. In recent years the Hussein regime has carried out a large-scale military campaign against Shiıite civilians in the south of Iraq, leading to thousands of deaths and the devastation of the entire area. The British Foreign Office reports: "The regime has been engaged in a massive project to drain the marshes." Hundreds of square kilometres have been burnt in military actions. Out of a regional population of over half a million in the 1980s, fewer then 50,000 remain in the region today. In deliberate and indiscriminate military attacks on civilian targets numerous villages have been destroyed, an unknown number of unarmed civilians have been extrajudicially executed, and, as former UN Special Rapporteur Mr. van der Stoel stated, thousands of people have been deported to detention camps or have simply disappeared. This was a campaign which took place over a period of years under the eyes of the Allies. It took place in an area which is designated as being under the protection of a no-fly zone. The consequences of a similar campaign in Northern Iraq are, unfortunately, too easy to imagine. What does the Foreign Ministry intend to do if two or three million Kurds again flee the country? It is unlikely in the extreme that the Kurds would place any trust in further international promises of protection inside the region. I conclude by returning to the question of definitions. Kurds too have always had a problem with definitions, as if there was never a definition of who was a Kurd, or a definition of which regions were to be considered Kurdish. It was the Iraqi regime which changed all that, when it began a sweeping military campaign against the Kurds. The campaign culminated in the destruction of more than 4,000 villages and towns, and the deaths of an estimated 120,000 to 180,000 Kurdish civilians. Since then the question of whether or not to be a Kurd has not been a matter of personal choice. It is no longer a matter of choice because people are oppressed, persecuted, arrested, deported, shot and gassed by the Iraqi regime as Kurds. This is symbolised by the city of Halabja. In the early hours of 16th March 1988 Iraqi helicopters dropped three bombs containing poison gas on Halabja, a Kurdish town inhabited by 50,000 civilians. More than 5,000 died in the space of a few hours. Around a further 10,000 are in the following years from their injuries and cancer. Halabja is also a symbol for the Kurdish society whos people have learned that they can only survive if they refuge. I beg you not to forget Halabja. Today, that means not accepting a report which portrays as safe for refugees a region which has not even been defined, never mind provided with protection. Do not let the Iraqi regime yet again define by violence who will be a subject of repression and where that repression will be committed. * THE KURDS IN IRAQI KURDISTAN NEED A POLITICAL SOLUTION by Trude Falch and Ketil Volden [Trude Falch works as programme co-ordinator for human rights in Norwegian Peopleıs Aid. Ketil Volden is programme co-ordinator for the Middle East in the same organisation. This opinion editorial has formerly been published in Norwegian in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on 25 May, 2001 under the following head line ³The UN and the Kurds in Iraq²] The sanctions that were introduced against Iraq in the wake of the invasion of Kuwait 2 August 1990, have had disastrous consequences for the Iraqi civilian population. There is an increasing national and international pressure to have the economic sanctions against Iraq lifted, but few discuss what will happen in the Kurdish self-rule areas of Iraq when the sanctions are lifted. The Kurdish self-rule in Iraq was established as a consequence of a series of events in the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991. In the spring of 1991, a large part of the population in Iraq made a revolt against Saddam Husseinıs regime. When the uprising was quelled, 1,5 2 million people fled to Iran and Turkey. 6 April 1991 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 688, which condemned Iraqıs atrocities and demanded that international humanitarian organisations be allowed to operate in Iraq. The UN also demanded the protection of national minorities, in special, and the protection of the Iraqi civilian population, in general, and the respect of the human rights of the Iraqi civilian population. The allied forces launched ³Operation Provide Comfort² and entered into northern Iraq to give the necessary protection so that the refugees could return to their homes. The UN Security Council declared the area north of the 36th latitude a security zone for the Kurds. The USA established a no-fly-zone over the same area, and the UN concluded an agreement with Iraqi authorities on humanitarian assistance. 31 October 1991 Iraqi forces withdrew from the Kurdish areas north of the 36th latitude, but also from areas as far south as Suleimaniya and from northern parts of the Kirkuk province. Iraqi authorities renounced all economic responsibility for the region and initiated an economic boycott of the area. This affected all trade and the payment of salaries and pensions, and had severe repercussions on the legal system and the school and health sector. In 1992 elections were held for a popularly elected assembly in Iraqi Kurdistan, and a Kurdish regional administration was established. The Kurdish self-rule had neither support, recognition nor follow-up from the international community. The UN and the Western and Arab countries that participated in the alliance against Iraq during the Gulf War, wanted to prevent a splitting up of Iraq. They chose not to work for a political solution, which would entail an internationally recognised autonomy for the Kurdish part of the country, in accordance with the wishes of the population. In 1994, warfare broke out between the two major Kurdish parties, KDP and PUK. Since then, the control over the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan has been divided between the two parties. The UN support to Iraqi Kurdistan depends on negotiations with the regime in Baghdad which during the whole period since the Gulf War has opposed the presence of non-governmental organisations in the northern parts of the country. The massive presence of the organisations during the first years after 1991, when many villages were rebuilt, was possible because Turkey allowed them to enter the Kurdish areas through its common border with northern Iraq. In 1996 Turkey closed the border for organisations, journalists and political representatives, and thereby blocked the main access road to the area for all visitors who did not explicitly serve Turkish interests or who lacked acceptance by Iraqi authorities. Apart from Norwegian Peopleıs Aid, which has been working in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1995 with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are only seven other international humanitarian aid organisations present in the area. The working conditions are difficult and characterised by the areaıs isolation from the rest of the world, especially with regards to communication and possibilities for travelling. The sense of isolation is of course much stronger amongst the local organisations and in the civil society. Through the ³Oil for food² agreement, approved by the UN Security Council in 1996, 13 per cent of Iraqıs income from oil production goes to the three Kurdish governorates in northern Iraq. This has improved the humanitarian situation, but the UN sanctions prevent a sound, economic development in the area. Trade with the neighbouring countries will break with the sanction policy of the UN, and the huge potential for agriculture is not exploited because the ³Oil for food² agreement does not permit purchase of grain and other food items in the Kurdish areas. Instead food from other countries like USA and Australia is distributed. The Kurdish society depends on humanitarian aid from the UN in the same way as it under the Iraqi regime depended on centrally controlled goods and services. The international protection of Iraqi Kurdistan is limited. The international society does not react when Turkey and Iran bomb areas within the No-fly-zone. In addition, Turkey repeatedly carries out military operations in the area without any international reactions or sanctions. 15 August last year 32 Kurds, most of them women and children, were killed in a Turkish air attack. Iraqıs massive military operation inside the Kurdish autonomous area in September 1996 was only met with symbolic reactions. Norwegian Peopleıs Aid has followed the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan closely, and can only conclude that ten years with the security zone and humanitarian assistance have not given the Kurds the security that they have been struggling for. The international communityıs lack of will to consider the problem not only as a humanitarian, but also as a political issue, has contributed to the fact that no lasting solution has been found. The continuous threat from Saddam Husseinıs regime and the lack of political investment from the international community lead to frustration, fear and hopelessness. The social, economic and cultural structures in the area are breaking down. Every year 35 000 Kurds from Iraq risk their own lives to find security in Europe. If the present Iraqi regime return to the Kurdish controlled areas, it will represent a serious risk for the population and most probably to gross violations of human rights and oppression. The seriousness of the situation and the history of the Kurds in Iraq implies that UN should immediately take the initiative to find a political solution in order to make the temporary and de facto autonomy into a permanent and recognised autonomy. Norway, which leads the UN Sanctions Committee for Iraq in the Security Council, can play an important role here. A political solution must be based on the principle of peoplesı right to self determination and the solution must secure minority rights and general human rights for the Kurds in Iraq. The various alternatives must include different forms of self-rule within a democratic Iraq. A first step can be to send a UN appointed independent expert commission to the area to assess different solutions and the wishes of the population. The international community should guarantee that a reunion between the Kurdish self-rule areas and the rest of Iraq does not take place before such a reunion has been approved of by a democratically elected parliament in Iraqi Kurdistan. In any future negotiations between the Iraqi regime and Kurdish representatives in order to achieve an agreement within Iraq, it is necessary that the Kurds have strong international support. Because of their weak negotiating position it is impossible to arrive at a viable and credible agreement with the Iraqi regime without such a support. If the sanctions are lifted before such a lasting, political solution has been found for the Kurds in Iraq, it is important that they receive continuous international protection. The Kurds must, in addition, be guaranteed their legitimate share of the Iraqi oil revenues. If the Kurdish dimension in Iraq is ignored the world will most likely witness a new Kurdish refugee tragedy similar to the one in 1991. After having been exposed to massive atrocities during several decades, time is ripe for the elaboration of a political solution for the Kurds in Iraq which takes into consideration the legitimate needs of the Kurds themselves. * "LIFE AND SOCIETY IN THE KURDISH SAFE HAVEN: TEN YEARS AFTER THE UPRISING IN NORTHERN IRAQ" by Michael Rubin Kurdistan Observer, July 2, 2001 Meeting Summary: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Current Social Issues in Iraqi Kurdistan Presented at a Middle East Seminar titled: "Life and Society in the Kurdish Safe Haven: Ten Years After the Uprising in Northern Iraq" Michael Rubin, Fellow, Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs and Visiting Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Northern Iraq has been effectively free of Saddam Hussein for a decade. Currently administered in separate sections by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Northern Iraq is a region in social flux as its residents seek to build a civil society out of the devastation wrought by decades of uprising, war, and a dictatorial regime in Baghdad. Simultaneously, as the only region in Iraq free from Saddam's grip, Northern Iraq provides an interesting case study as to the challenges to be faced in Iraq when regime change does occur in the portion of Iraq controlled by Saddam. As civil society in Northern Iraq has matured, there has been a development of divergent social trends. Regarding women's issues, apparent incompatibility between nascent feminism and rigid interpretations of Islamic traditions challenge the university-age generation of women. For example, some women argue that Northern Iraq should no longer abide by Qu'ranic interpretations that mandate that the inheritance daughters receive be just one half of each brother's share. However, many male students counter this argument by questioning the feminists' loyalty to Islam and warning that such reforms threaten to bring an "age of ignorance" upon Northern Iraq. Likewise, the shattering of the region's long isolation, especially with the introduction of satellite television reception (still banned in the rest of Iraq) has led to an upsurge in honor killing, as girls are exposed to female models outside of their traditionally conservative region. While many women seek to ban honor-killing all together, some of their male university peers counter that punishment exists if it turns out the perpetrators of the honor killing were wrong (something that will not help the female victims). Northern Iraq's increasing exposure to the outside world also challenges family relations. There is increasing access to imported pornography, a trend some Kurdish officials blame on earlier Baathist attempts to loosen the traditional morals of the Kurds. Among even educated men, there is an immaturity regarding sexual issues which is reflected in the jokes told when no women are presentin both subject and nuance, these jokes would be akin to something junior high age children might tell in America. This may be a reflection of the continued separation of the sexes. From the time they leave primary school, men and women operate in different spheres. While some socialization does occur in the universities (when classes again become mixed sex), there is significant peer pressure not to allow platonic friendship to develop with women. Even after marriage, men and women operate in different worlds, coming together only for dinner and sleep. Despite the male dominance in the working world, the women still preserve a strong family role; husbands often jokingly refer to their wives as "the interior minister." The division between the sexes is apparent in certain family issues. The responsibility for birth control is the woman's, so long as the male wants to limit family size; many do not. While birth control pills are available, condoms are not. Abortion is legally available when the woman's health is in danger according to the director of one of the maternity hospitals. "Back alley" abortions occur, according to some of my women students, though most of my male students were not aware of this and considered all abortions against religion. Prostitution is very rare, though it does occur, especially among the so-called Anfal widowswomen whose husbands disappeared during Saddam Hussein's 1988 ethnic cleansing campaign but whose bodies were never found. Because the women have no proof of their husband's death, they cannot remarry and often live in abject poverty. Many students were aware of AIDS, but attributed its cause to loose Western morals, especially relative to adultery; drug abuse and homosexuality were considered less important factors. Other social divisions exist in society. There is a gap between the wealthy and the poor, though almost everyone manages to feed him or herself. This gap is exacerbated by the continuing influx of internally-displaced people whose property has been confiscated by the Baghdad regime. Many of these people were expelled from the city of Kirkuk; they often complain that they have become scapegoats for any social ill that befalls Northern Iraqi society. Another social division occurs between the many Kurds who have been in Iraq their whole lives and those who grew up in Iran, after their families fled Iraq following the 1975 Algiers Accords which allowed Baghdad to crush the Kurdish uprising. Many women from one group will actively criticize the style of clothes worn by the other, their choice of music, or their style of dance. In the universities, the recent freedoms have created challenges for a generation of administrators and professors who have as their only models Iraqi and Iranian styles of management and teaching. Memorization and recitation still dominate pedagogy, with analytical thinking discouraged. However, as universities wire to the Internet and receive an influx of those educated abroad, there is increasing friction between the Iraqi and East Bloc-educated old guard and the younger generation, a battle the younger generation is bound to win. None of these observations relate to high politics, but they give some hint as to the social situation faced as societies emerge from the grasp of authoritarian rule in the Middle East. * LIFE AND DEATH OF ABDUL RAHMAN GHASSEMLOU Kurdistan Observer, July 14, 2001 13 July 1989, in the very room where the negotiation took place Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was killed by three bullets fired at very close range. His assistant Moustafawi succeeded in escaping. Mohammad Jafar Sahraroudi received minor injuries and was taken to hospital, questioned and allowed to go. Amir Mansur Bozorgian was released after 24 hours in police custody and took refuge in the Iranian Embassy. The life and death of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou (1930-1989) www.pdki.org Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), was born on 22 December 1930 in Ourmiah, Kurdistan. He went to university in Paris and later Czechoslovakia, had a Doctorate in economics and was an associate professor, having taught in Prague and Paris. In 1941, the Allies invaded Iran in a 'bridge of victory" operation that inevitably brought about the downfall of Reza Shah because of his relationswith the Axis powers. A major political change was to take shape in the country. In Iranian Kurdistan the national movement came back to life and the PDKI founded on 16 August 1945, attracted young people in its masses. One of them was Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou - not yet 15 years old. On 22 January 1946 the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad came into existence by proclamation, but in December of the same year the imperial army with the help of the Western forces entered the city, and the killing and arrests that followed were as cruel as they were indiscriminate. The Republic had fallen; its President, Qazi Mohammad, and his close followers were taken prisoner, and then put to death on 30 March 1947. Little by little the Kurdish people re-gathered their strength. The Republic of Mahabad may have been short-lived but in the collective memory it did not die. Running unlimited risks, the Kurdish leaders set about the vast task of protecting, educating and organising the population. Back from Europe in 1952, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou devoted his energies to these clandestine activities for several years. In the next decade, he split his time between Europe and Kurdistan working in double harness: his university career and his repeated missions to Kurdistan. In 1959, the regional context appeared to be more hopeful; in neighbouring Iraq, the monarchy had been overthrown, and Molla Mostafa Barzani (leader of the Democratic Party of Iraqi Kurdistan) had returned to his country after eleven years of exile in former USSR. The government in Baghdad accepted the principle of autonomy for the Kurdish population of Iraq. On the other side of the frontier, the PDKI steeled itself to renew the struggle. In 1968-69, the armed conflict was rife in Iranian Kurdistan and the period ended in a bath of blood with the massacre of the Kurdish leaders - and yet, even then, Kurdish resistance managed to raise its head again.The vice-like grip in which the Shah's armies were trying to hold it had to be broken. At the third Congress of the PDKI (1973), Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was elected Secretary-general and at those that followed he was invariably returned to office. During the years that followed, the prestige of the Pahlavi monarchy continued to wane. The White Revolution was questioned by experts in international affairs; the greedy demands and extravagant behaviour of the court were criticised in the press, and the SAVAK was active throughout the country with no social class being spared its baneful attentions. Clearly, the regime was doomed. If that happened, what should be the position of PDKI ? In view of the complex nature of the problems in the region that position had to be clear-cut. The Party had to reply unambiguously to a number of questions about its identity, its allegiances, its aspirations and its options. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou and his aides drew up as coherent and realistic a programme as they could which may be summarised, in essence, as follows : - We are Kurds, we belong to a people that the vicissitudes of history have scattered over five states. A bond of brotherhood binds us, and will continue to bind us, to all other Kurds, wherever they live. - We are the descendants of one of the oldest Indo-European civilisations. Our identity is defined by the fact that we have our own language and our own culture. - We are the citizens of a country called Iran - on the same basis of the other peoples living on the Iranian territory : the Baluchs, Persians, Azeris, Arabs, Turkmens and so on. - We are ardent defenders of the Declaration of Human Rights and the right of peoples as defined by the United Nations. - We are for the freedom of worship and we respect all religions practiced by our co-citizens. Faith is an inviolable right. However, being resolutely modern in our outlook, we feel that a separation between the religious institutions and the state is desirable. A lay state is not, on that account, opposed to the faith or to those that serve it. - For the living conditions of all to be improved, and customs from long ages past condemning women to a state of inferiority to be ended. - To accelerate development in our country, it is necessary to establish a system providing free education of uniform quality throughout the country. A special effort should be made in the peripheral areas (Kurdistan, for example) that are clearly a long way behind. - No attempt to leave poverty behind will succeed without the active participation of the people themselves. To feel concerned - so we believe - they have to feel free. Freedom of movement for goods and persons, freedom of association and freedom to form political parties or unions and to belong to such organisations are the indispensable preconditions for economic and cultural development. - For there to be trust between the population and the central authority, large-scale decentralisation is necessary. - In Kurdistan's case, that decentralisation has to comprise a charter of autonomy for the region whose boundaries would need to be precisely defined. Within this Kurdish space, the administrative languages should be Kurdish and Farsi, which would both be official languages of the regional and local authorities. Primary education should be in Kurdish whereas the two official languages should be routine practice in secondary school. Lastly, after so many years of violence, the Kurdish people could not accept a police force that was not manned by Kurds. It is only on these conditions that there would be any chance of lasting peace in Iranian Kurdistan. - Lastly, the "kurdification" of the administrative and 'production structures would demand major investment in the training of senior officials and staff and also - it goes without saying - a multidisciplinary university on Kurdish land. In other words, what the leaders of the PDKI demand is genuine and effective autonomy. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, dictatorships hide behind pyramid-shape structures excluding all horizontal communication. Feeling themselves perpetually threatened (as indeed they are), they seek the support of foreign powers which, in the end, become their masters. Dictators are not free and they abuse the freedom of others. So the autonomy of Iranian Kurdistan would be utopian unless Iran made the change to democracy. Without democracy in Iran there could be no guarantee for autonomy in Kurdistan. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou saw that these two concepts were inseparable and so they became the watchword of the PDKI: Democracy for Iran, autonomy for Kurdistan. This policy statement in which chauvinism and sectarianism had no part won the PDKI the firm friendship of Third World countries and modern democracies alike. During his many trips abroad, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was always sure of a warm welcome. Many humanitarian organisations offered him help, eminent figures on the world stage in political and university life thought highly of him and human rights and religions militants encouraged him throughout his life. It was thanks to him that the Iranian Kurds were able to emerge from their isolation and make their voice heard in the international fora. Some of these sympathisers were surprised that the Iranian Kurds had "such modest" demands after such a bitter struggle. "It is really autonomy you want - nothing more ?" was a not uncommon reaction. No secret clause was ever planned or hidden in this blueprint for autonomy because it was the fruit of long and profound thought about the world political context following World War Il. The Kurdish leaders took the view that major changes to frontiers were ruled out and that the general trend was towards the formation of large groupings rather that the fragmentation of existing units. In any case, once peace was restored, it would surely be natural for countries with common borders to seek to develop trade and cultural exchange. Therefore, in the long term, the existence of big Kurdish communities in various parts of the Middle East could be a positive factor in inter regional relations. Everyone would stand to gain. It is well known that the big exporting countries pay considerable attention to the ethnic minorities, which often act as bridgeheads or relay stations in campaigns to win a foothold in new markets. In short, the Kurdish thinkers concluded that only the short-sighted could see ethnic, linguistic or religious diversity as an obstacle to development. In the future the big middle-eastern house would derive its energy from the many different elements of which it was built. This pattern was particularly true of Iran itself with its 45 million inhabitants of which only 40 % were of Persian origin. (Today Iran has over sixty million inhabitants). At that time, towards 1975, this type of thinking sounded at least advanced, not to say fanciful. The Kurds were still under the heel of the Shah, but nothing is eternal, dictators included. One day in February 1979 Mohammed Reza Pahlavi finally gave up the throne. At that time the PDKI had a solid base and a real impact in Iranian Kurdistan. However, to run the territory properly and control its administration the police had to be removed and the army thrown out down to the very last man. This was the task of the "peshmergas" or partisans, who attacked army barracks and seized large stocks of arms and ammunition. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was then able to claim that, in a large part of Kurdistan, the Kurds were their own masters. It was reasonable to hope that the Iranian revolution would have brought men to power able to realise that the interests of the central authority and those of the Kurds were compatible. Elections were planned and a new constitution was being written for the country. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was elected to the Assembly of experts and made ready to carry to the capital the message of the Kurds - a simple message: there is room for all in this country where everything needs doing or re-doing. Imam Khomeini, unfortunately, saw things differently, he labelled the newly elected representative of the Kurds an "enemy of God" and declared a "holy war" on Kurdistan. This was in 1979. Sudden though it was, this call to arms was, in retrospect, not surprising. How, after all, could this grim gerontocrat with the cruelty of another age be prepared to give his attention to the history and wants of the Kurds ? How could Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou be expected to stay silent at the hostage-taking, occupation of foreign embassies and other terrorist activities launched in 1979 by an Imam who had recently returned from Neauphle le-Château to sow the seeds of hate and insanity. The Gulf War broke out the following September. Perhaps these unsubdued Kurds would be forgotten during this conflict between Iran and Iraq (1980-88). On the contrary, in fact, it cost them dearly, for their villages lay on either side of the frontier where the fighting was at its fiercest. They were accused, too, of being anti-patriotic : their settlements were destroyed and the people living there reduced to a wandering existence. The ultimate purpose of these crimes against humanity was obvious : to use the war as an excuse for exterminating a people whose authenticity was denied as strongly as it was proclaimed by the Kurds. Iran came out of the war with Iraq exhausted and the Imam at death's door. The facts had to be faced and Tehran had to find a compromise in Kurdistan. For his part, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou had been saying for years that the fighting had been imposed on him, that neither side would ever lose or win and that, sooner or later, the Kurdish problem would have to be solved across the negotiating table. After flying a few kites, Tehran issued a concrete proposal for a meeting in Vienna on 28 December 1988 and the PDKI accepted. The talks lasted two days, 28 and 30 December and the results must have been promising because it was agreed to hold another meeting the following January. On 20 January, at the end of the first round of negotiations, the representatives of Tehran were fully acquainted with the Kurdish demands. The principle of autonomy seemed to have been agreed. The details of how it was to be put into effect had yet to be defined. Six months later, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou returned to Europe to attend a congress of the Socialist International. Tehran tried to contact him again in order, he was told, to pursue the negotiations that had begun the previous winter. The PDKI accepted the offer sent to it. The meeting took place on 12 July 1989 in Vienna. The Tehran delegation was as before, namely Mohammed Jafar Sahraroudi and Hadji Moustafawi, except that this time there was also a third member : Amir Mansur Bozorgian whose function was that of bodyguard. The Kurds also had a three-man delegation : Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, his aide Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar (member of the PDKI Central Committee) and Fadhil Rassoul, an Iraqi university professor who had acted as a mediator. The next day, 13 July 1989, in the very room where the negotiation took place Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was killed by three bullets fired at very close range. His assistant Abdullah Ghaderi Azar was hit by eleven bullets and Fadhil Rassoul by five. Hadji Moustafawi succeeded in escaping. Mohammad Jafar Sahraroudi received minor injuries and was taken to hospital, questioned and allowed to go. Amir Mansur Bozorgian was released after 24 hours in police custody and took refuge in the Iranian Embassy. Indignation was at its height. How, in this age, in the heart of Europe, could it happen for the representatives of a member country of the United Nations to open fire at point blank range on the representatives of a country with whom it was at war and had entered into peace negotiations? On 19 July two representatives of the political bureau of PDKI came to Paris to attend the funeral. At a press conference they announced, among other things, that the higher authorities of the PDKI had appointed Sadegh Charafkandi to perform the duties of Secretary-general. Sadegh Sharafkandi (who was also assassinated on 17 September 1992 by the Iranian terrorists) was in his fifties and had a doctorate in industrial chemistry from Paris University. He was Deputy Secretary-general of the Party up to the death of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou . The two murdered men of the PDKI were buried on 20 July in Paris in the presence of a throng of some two thousand people from all parts : Kurds and Armenians, Azeris and Turks, Persians and Europeans, poets and doctors, ministers and workpeople, representatives of humanitarian organisations and members of parliament. Leading the funeral procession, the peshmergas in their Kurdish resistance fighters' uniform advanced with difficulty in the torrid heat of the Parisian summer. They were all there, all that had been able to travel on their crutches and in their wheelchairs, having come from the various capitals of Europe where they were recovering, as best they could, from the wounds received in the conflict. Tehran denied all connection with this triple murder and told Austria to look for clues in other directions than Iran. But the findings of the ballistics experts were conclusive. In late November 1989 the Austrian courts issued a warrant for the arrest of the three Iranian representatives and the Austrian Government expressly accused the Iranian Government as having instigated the attack on Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou and the two other Kurds. Thus died this man who was no warmonger but a man of letters, master of several languages and persuasive speaker. Overflowing with enthusiasm and energy, he was an intellectual of his time, this end of the twentieth century when the triumph of democracy seems really within reach. * BANASIAW DISPATCH by Michael Rubin Kurdistan Observer, July 23, 2001 (from The New Republic) When Americans think ethnic cleansing, they think of Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda. They donıt think of Iraq. But thatıs because most Americans donıt go to places like Banasiaw, a checkpoint along the border between the U.S.-patrolled safe haven in northern Iraq and Saddam Husseinıs distinctly unsafe terrain to the south. In Banasiaw, the ethnically cleansed-Iraqi Kurds, Turkmans, and other non-Arabs forced from their homes by Saddamıs men-constitute a brisk traffic. ³We had two expelled families arrive just today,² says a Kurdish commander named Jamal. Two families today. Another four tomorrow. Theyıve been coming for years. According to the U.S. Committee on Refugees, the number of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq increased from around 640,000 in 1994 to almost one million in 1999. And thousands more are expelled every year. Saddamıs ethnic cleansing isnıt new. In fact, he was once famous for it. In 1988, during the Iran Iraq War, Saddamıs forces carried out the infamous Anfal Campaign-razing some 5,000 villages in northern Iraq, relocating populations into well-guarded ³collective towns,² and using chemical weapons against those who did not move fast enough. By the end of the year, approximately 182,000 non-Arabs had been massacred. But, over time, Saddam has grown more savvy about public relations. Today, by carefully controlling press access, he keeps his ethnic cleansing from international view. Indeed, to listen to many in the United States and Europe, youıd think the main cause of suffering in Iraq today is not Saddam, but the U.S.-led sanctions campaign against him. In the swelling towns of northern Iraq, however, they know better. Abdullah, 44, a married father of six, tells a typical story. He was an elementary school teacher in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a veteran of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, and a conscript in the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. One day last spring, several policemen and an official from Saddamıs ruling Baath Party (which foments racism against Kurds and other non-Arabs) pushed their way into his house without warning. They confiscated the family's U.N. oil-for-food-program ration cards, then ordered Abdullah and his elderly parents to accompany them to the security headquarters "for five minutes," while his wife and six children waited at home. When Iraqi security finally released him-not five minutes but one week later-they told Abdullah that his parents would remain in jail until the entire family agreed to abandon their home and property. Abdullah relented. Three weeks later, the family left, having lost their house and two cars, not to mention the quarter-million Iraqi dinar bribe they paid police in order to get back their U.N. ration cards (so they could get food when they arrived in the northern Kurdish safe-haven). Abdullah said his expulsion was due to "Saddam's oil strategy. He does not want any Kurds in areas of oil wealth." The Iraqi dictator, it seems, suspects Kurds and Turkmans of disloyalty and feels his countryıs precious oil reserves would be safer surrounded by ethnic Arabs. The expulsions have grown so frequent, Abdullah added, that "there is no Kurdish family in Kirkuk who is not waiting for the knock on their door." Many Kurds have no choice but to wait. According to several refugees in Bardiqariman, a tent city in the safe haven that held 1,660 people the day I visited, the Iraqi government no longer allows Kurds to hold good jobs unless they reregister their ethnicity as Arab. Some Kurds try to do just that, but it often doesnıt work. Saddamıs henchmen still cleanse them from oil-rich areas, but, in an ironic nod to their assumed identity, many are banished not to the Kurdish north but to non-oil producing areas in the Arab south. I asked one family in the northern town of Kalar how they got there. After I pointed out a few discrepancies in their accounts, they admitted, embarrassed, that they had tried to change their identity to Arab but were expelled anyway. Torture isnıt widespread, but it isnıt exactly unheard of either. Qasim, 57, told me how security police snatched him and his family from their house in Khanaqin, then savagely beat him in jail while his wife and daughters sat in the adjacent cell. After one particularly harsh beating, Qasim's daughter Bisma explained, blood oozed from her father's ears; he has been deaf ever since. Other families tell similar stories. Seventy-three-year-old Nadeema cares for her son, who suffers from brain damage_the result of a severe beating by Iraqi officers in 1994 during a round-up of young Kurdish men. Despite her family's subsequent expulsion to Sulaymaniyah in the north, she considers herself lucky, explaining, "Most families in Khanaqin never saw their sons again." And the abuse can also be more subtle. Ruhnak, a 37-year-old woman, told me that Iraqi security officers arrested her and demanded she divorce her husband, whom they accused of working against the government. When she refused, they expelled her four children from school and told her they would stop her U.N. oil-for-food rations if she did not leave Khanaqin. She now lives in the city of Kalar across the border in the safe haven. According to Zahir Shukur Bapir, head of the governing Patriotic Union of Kurdistanıs Displaced Persons Bureau in Darbandikhan, the capital of the Kurdish-controlled section of the Kirkuk governorate, "Every governorate [under Saddamıs control] has an Office of Peoples' Issues from where they order expulsions." An emerging paper trail backs up his claim. In one two-year-old document, recently smuggled into the safe-haven, one of Saddam's governors issued detailed expulsion instructions, attaching a list of 1,380 people to be expelled over the course of three months. Separately, the September 19, 2000, edition of the official Iraqi newspaper Sawt al Ta'amim (Voice of Nationalization) reported the distribution of 10,000 plots of confiscated land to members of the Iraqi military and security forces. Saddam's government quickly pulled the paper from newsstands, but dissidents had already sent a few copies to the north. Life for the Kurds expelled to tent cities in northern Iraq is bleak: Temperatures exceed 100 degrees during the summer, then fall below freezing in the winter. Drinking water is scarce. Most displaced persons say they want to return home but cannot do so while Saddam remains in power. Most of the refugees think Saddam views the Bush administrationıs ongoing effort to soften the sanctions regime as a sign of weakness. And, as they know all too well, Saddam usually responds to weakness with aggression. Asked about returning home, Muna, a recent arrival from Khanaqin, referred to Saddam's legendary chemical weapons attack in 1988: "We are too afraid of another Anfal," she said. Perhaps the Bush administration should be as well. Michael Rubin, a Carnegie Council fellow and visiting scholar at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, recently returned from nine months in northern Iraq. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk