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KHRP | Kurdish Human Rights Project

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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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Charity Awards

Charity Awards

Gruber Prize


Gruber Justice Prize

2004 Annual Report - Page 2
Article Index
2004 Annual Report
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A Message from the Executive Director and Chairman


Dear Friends,

The decision made by the EU on 17 December 2004 to open accession negotiations with Turkey was a historic one. There seems no better time to reflect on the role played by human rights defenders in bringing about a sea change in that region. For the first time in decades there seem to be genuine opportunities for Kurds in Turkey to see their rights protected in the context of democratic governance, and to have a say in their own futures. The release of imprisoned Kurdish parliamentarians, the commencement of limited state broadcasts in the hitherto prohibited Kurdish language and the opening of Kurdish language schools, which all took place in 2004, would have been unthinkable only years ago. Nonetheless, while welcoming the EU accession process as the most potentially effective means of bringing about democratisation in Turkey, we share many commentators' concerns that accession may be accelerated at the expense of genuine commitment to reform in Turkey. KHRP has consistently scrutinised that commitment throughout the year, and plans to continue to do so in 2005.

Dramatic geopolitical changes in the region and the unleashing of powerful forces as a result of the US-led war in Iraq have dramatically influenced both domestic and foreign policies within the regions. A wave of demonstrations swept across Iran and Syria; alongside increased reports of the use of torture or ill-treatment in detention, including indefinite solitary confinement. Meanwhile, demonstrations in Syria in March marked the most serious unrest in recent years. Although offi cial death tolls were disputed, at least a dozen were killed in days of violence between police and Kurdish demonstrators; with hundreds more held in incommunicado detention and reportedly subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

However the most dramatic events, of course, occurred in Iraq, where after decades of being denied recognition, the Kurds were finally afforded a meaningful input into the governance of Iraq. The establishment of a federal government in Iraqi Kurdistan has implications for regimes throughout the Kurdish regions, endorsing the feasibility of peaceful, state-based solutions to the Kurdish issues and challenging the legitimacy of the repressive policies practised against the Kurds by Iran, Syria and Turkey. Each of the Kurdish regions shares similarities and differences; but by maintaining a reputation for independence and neutrality and creating strong relationships with partner organisations on the ground, KHRP has increased its role in protecting the most disadvantaged groups in the regions throughout the year. We are proud of the multidisciplinary approach KHRP has adopted and its ability to provide a channel of communication between the most marginalised individuals and groups and the decision- making bodies with the influence to change their lives. In this way, we believe KHRP can both restore dignity to survivors of human rights abuse, and prevent similar violations from recurring in future.

For supporting this vital work, we would like to thank our regional partners, board members, supporters, legal team, staff and interns for their invaluable support. Thanks to these people, KHRP is a shining example of what can be achieved when different peoples, cultures and experiences combine to fight side by side in support of basic human rights, to which all human beings are entitled irrespective of race, creed or colour. As a charity, we also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our funders, without whose generous support our activities would not be possible. Thank you all for your ongoing support of the work of the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

Kerim Yildiz Executive Director

Mark Muller Chairman