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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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KHRP Considers OSCE Sessions on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination and Internally Displaced Persons

The annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, which is being held from 28 September to 9 October 2009 in Warsaw, today considered issues related to Tolerance and Non-Discrimination and Internally Displaced Persons.

KHRP remains concerned that many of the commitments entered into by Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan under the OSCE framework remain unfulfilled.

Despite Turkey’s endorsement of successive OSCE Ministerial Decisions on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination, recent KHRP fact-finding missions to the region have documented the Turkish government’s limited progress in promoting the rights of Kurdish people on its territory. In one of its latest publications, Human Rights in the Kurdish Region of Turkey: Three Pressing Concerns, KHRP has pointed at the severe shortcomings in redress mechanisms for victims of discrimination and human rights violations. The missions concluded that rather than co-operating with civil society actors as encouraged by the OSCE, the Turkish authorities continue to harass human rights defenders and civil society organisations.

Deeply concerning is also the condition of Internally Displaced Persons in Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.  As participating states to the OSCE as well as a state parties to several provisions of international law, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan are ostensibly committed to protecting the physical and psychological integrity of IDPs, to provide them with appropriate shelter, education, employment and opportunities for political participation, as well as to guarantee assistance for the IDP’s return to their areas of origin or for their settlement elsewhere. Yet successive KHRP fact-finding missions have highlighted the serious shortcomings in these governments’ provision of services to IDPs.
In Turkey, an estimated 3.5 million persons remain internally displaced as a result of the decade-long conflict between the Turkish Government and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).  Currently, IDPs are still not provided with sufficient mechanisms for redress and compensation and their condition is a major cause for concern. Moreover, despite recent success in stalling European funding for the Illsu Dam— a development project against which KHRP has long campaigned—up to 78,000 villagers stand to be displaced by threatened flooding of the ancient city of Hasankeyf, should construction resume. 
KHRP will shortly dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate how things stand following the collapse of export credit for the dam.  A briefing paper on the findings of the mission will be available on the KHRP website shortly.
KHRP also remain highly concerned about the social and environmental damage caused by the BP-led oil pipeline running through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, as well as the displacement of villagers in Armenian controlled territory resulting from the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.  As a founding member of the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign, KHRP is working with partner organisations to link the environmental and infrastructure changes associated with the pipeline project with important human rights issues such as displacement and the obstruction of cultural rights. 

Discussing today’s session of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Kerim Yildiz, KHRP Chief Executive said ‘Today OSCE participating States have had the opportunity to support the efforts of local civil society organisations in identifying key areas where Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan can be encouraged to live up to their OSCE commitments and to make real progress in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law’.