During a time of critical developments in the Middle East and Kurdistan, the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) conducted its 17th General Meeting in the Eindhoven, Holland on 14-15 October with the participation of many of its members and guests from southern and western Kurdistan (Başûr and Rojava), Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Unites States, Australia, and South Africa. Representatives of 47 parties and political organizations and civil society organizations attended as members, and representatives of 7 additional political parties participated as observers.
In the context of the current situation in Kurdistan, the 17th General Meeting emphasized the opportunities and dangers facing Kurdistan as well as the Middle East, more generally.
A democratic federal system is successfully being built in western Kurdistan (Rojava) and northern Syria, and the recent election of the co-heads of communes on 22 September 2017is testament to this.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), today reached the de facto ISIS capital city of Raqqa and have thus completed the final step in the full liberation of Raqqa from ISIS. The process of defeating ISIS began in 2014 with the epic, and ultimately victorious, resistance in Kobanê and is completed with the liberation of Raqqa.
The Turkish state now fears its interests are in danger, and seeks to protect ISIS and other Salafist forces through an operation in Idlib, Syria. At the same time, within the framework of an operation to “prevent a Kurdish corridor to the Mediterranean Sea”, it seeks to occupy Afrin through Idlib. The principle aim is to intensify the blockade and siege of Afrin by controlling al-Bab and Idlib and thus harm the federation of Northern Syria. While acting in the name of implementing the Astana agreement, the Turkish state is showing its face as an occupier and seeking to use Idlib to impose its anti-Kurdish policies.
The Turkish state continues to act against the Kurdish people. In Rojava and Nothern Kurdistan (Bakûr/Turkey), it continues a brutal war against the Kurds, while portraying itself as an ally of the Kurds in South Kurdistan (Iraq). The reality of its strategy in South Kurdistan however is to establish a deep alliance to serve its own purposes.
The Turkish state is currently waging a cruel war against the people, politicians and guerrillas in northern Kurdistan, but faces defeats in the face of strong, unyielding resistance. Thousands of politicians, party co-heads, co-mayors, and members of various organizations have been arrested, but the Turkish state has nonetheless failed to achieve its aims. Following their failure to achieve any success in North Kurdistan, they are now seeking to carry out their anti-Kurdish policy in South Kurdistan.
Following southern Kurdistan’s independence referendum on 25 September 2017, the Turkish state showed its true face to the region, demonstrating that it is truly an enemy of the Kurdish people in all parts of Kurdistan. While our people in southern Kurdistan have asked for their inherent rights and self-determination, due to politics of oppression, centralism, narrow-minded and lack of foresight, great hardship has been inflicted upon southern Kurdistan following the referendum. Turkey on one side, and Iran and Iraq, on the other, have come together to work in concert, united by common emnity. Soon after the referendum, the Turkish state began work to create an alliance against the Kurdish people.
Kurdish political power in Bakur (Turkey) and Rojava (Syria) has made it possible through its strategy to prevent the states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria to return to the old, established anti-Kurdish coalition. Unfortunately, however, the ruling elite in South Kurdistan (Iraq) have again presented the Turkish State with a new oppourtunity for the anti-Kurdish coalition. Turkey is currently the leading power in the formation of the anti-Kurdish coalition, and incites Iran on one hand, and Iraq on the other, against the Kurds.
It is well known that, on the international stage, Turkey has been seen as a friend of the ISIS and has therefore been politically and diplomatically isolated. Unfortunately, after the referendum, Turkey has once again increased its activities against the Kurdish people and is trying to overcome its isolation by accusing the Kurds.
Within the framework of national unity, the demand for freedom or independence, is without a doubt an inherent right – the right to self-determination. However, the political misuse of this inherent right because of power interests, has now brought South Kurdistan today to a great risk and danger. All of the achievements of South Kurdistan have come under threat. The myopic policies of South Kurdistan have opened the way for the Iraqi central government to return to the borders of 2014 and, most notably, seize control over Kirkuk and surrounding areas.
The rulers of South Kurdistan ignored the warnings and recommendations of many states who had friendly relationships with South Kurdistan in recent years which said that now is not the right time for a referendum. And now all international forces remain silent concerning to the occupation policies of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Kurds in South Kurdistan once again have been sacrificed to the misguided policies of the leadership of the Kurdistan Region (of Iraq).
KNK calls on the central government of Iraq to stand with the Kurdistan Region, according to the constitution of Iraq, against any political steps from Turkey or Iran against the Kurdish people.
The 17th General Meeting of the KNK also addressed the situation of eastern Kurdistan (Rojhilat) as a matter of national concern for Kurdistan, and condemned Iran’s use of the death penalty, the killing of “kolber” workers, and policies of colonial exploitation imposed upon the society of eastern Kurdistan. The involvement of Iran in the anti-Kurdish coalition as well as Iran’s intervention in other parts of Kurdistan are clearly seen as part of a general hostile approach.
The primary topic of discussion at the KNK General Meeting was the strategic necessity for broad national unity. If all parties had attended the National Unity Conference in Sulaymaniyah in 15-16 July 2017, then some of the current problems could have been avoided. Political decisions concerning national interest need a national consensus. This also applies to the decision in relation to the referendum.
The politics of strong and individual-centered and rigid, party-restricted policy have endangered Kurdistan. Today this truth is even more evident. The fate of the Kurdish Regions is interconnected – the fate of Başûr (Iraq) is connected to Rojava (Syria), and that of Rojava is connected to Bakûr (Turkey). And that of Rojhilat (Iran) is also connected to the other 3 parts of Kurdistan. Because of this, coordination and balance within the framework of national unity is vital.
At the general meeting of the KNK, it was concluded that the issue of national unity is not merely an issue of political parties, but rather a matter of concern requiring the attention, participation and activism of all individuals and Kurdish organizations.
At the 17th General Meeting, guests congratulated the KNK on efforts aimed at furthering national unity. The Consultative Meeting on National Unity in Sulaymaniyah, South Kurdistan, the Consultative Meeting on the National Unity for Eastern Kurdistan held in Stockholm, Sweden on 16-17 September 2017, Consultative Meeting on the National Unity of Western Kurdistan held on 1-2 Octover and the Consultative Meeting on the National Unity of Kurds in Europe of 13-14 October were cited as significant achievements, and the aim for KNK to continue these efforts was expressed.
The situation of KCK leader Abdullah Ocalan was given a special attention at the 17th General Meeting of the KNK. The KNK considered the dissemination of dangerous and provocative statements from the Turkish state to be a national issue, and warned the Turkish state that these efforts against Ocalan will be regarded as an attack on the entire nation. Furthermore, the KNK asserted that to demand the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan is a national duty.
Another important matter addressed during the 17th General Meeting was the issue of women’s participation in political and civil society activities. At this year’s meeting, the number of female members was increased and special focus was given to women’s participation in the General Meeting. Many of the female members and guests have called on Kurdish political parties to remove the obstacles for the participation of women in politics. These women have attracted attention to the successes of women in Rojava and Bakur. They criticized those politicial parties, which don’t allow women the space to be politically active. Since many Kurdish political parties are not interested in national unity because of their own interests in power, they are preventing today the preparation of the Third Kurdish National Women’s Conference. The KNK is calling on all political powers in Kurdistan to remove all kind of obstacles and support the Third Kurdish Womens National Conference. The KNK believes that this Conference can play a leading role in the general national unity congress of Kurds.
During the 17th General Meeting of the KNK, changes to the program and constitution of the KNK were made. The statute and program of KNK has been renewed.
Nilufer Koç and Rebwar Rashid were re-elected co-chairs of the KNK.
The following members were elected to the KNK Executive Council:
1. Zubeyir Aydar
2. Adem Uzun
3. Shahla Hafîd
4. Abdullah Melle Nourî
5. Pelin Yilmaz
6. Refik Ghafur
7. Çiçek Yildiz
8. Zainab Moradî
A. Avesta Aydin
9. Behzad Pirmûsa
10. Tahir Kemalizadeh
11. Nalya Îbrahîm
12. Dilsha Osman
13. Numan Ogur
14. Abdulkerim Omar
17th General Meeting of the KNK
17 October 2017