Taking a Stand for the Kurds!

A book ‘Taking A Stand for the Kurds’ recently published by the Kurdish Institute argues that Belgian and especially Flemish politicians have done great efforts to put the Kurdish issue on the agenda.

 

In Belgium several non-Kurdish politicians are active in supporting human rights of ethnic Kurds and there is one Interparliamentary Workgroup working both in the Flemish, Belgian and European parliament – Kurds Friendship Group.

 

In Flemish, every year the EU Turkey Civil Commission  (EUTCC) organizes a conference about Kurds, Turkey and the EU in the European parliament.

 

Sociologist Marlies Caser and writer of the book says that it is special that politicians feel attracted to the Kurdish issue, despite that this is not a main concern of the electorate.

 

She said that Kurds have succeeded in convincing Belgian politicians to support the Kurdish cause.

 

Interest for the Kurds started in the 1960s by leftwing factions of the old Peoples Union Party, which supports federalism for other ethnic minorities. In the 1980s there were efforts among politicians of green, liberals and socialists to put the Kurdish issue on the agenda. This was also a result of the Gulf War and the gassing of Halabja. Furthermore the negotiation process about the Turkish EU-membership and strong ties of EU-states with Turkey also played a role.

 

In the book Rompaey says he began to have contacts with Kurds after he saw television images of dead children and women in the bombed city of Halabja in March 1988.

 

“How was this possible,” the former senator asked himself. “From that moment I started to make contacts with Kurds in Brussels and started to give presentations about the Kurds.”

 

The interest in Kurdish politics could also be a result of the Flemish nationalism in Belgium. Flemish nationalists argue that their language and culture were suppressed by the French-speakers in Belgium, while Kurdish nationalists argue that Kurdish culture has been repressed by states like Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

 

Former members of the Flemish People’s Union like Lionel Vandenberghe and Frieda Brepoels suggest that their own struggle for cultural rights can be compared to the ethnic struggle of Kurdish politicians to get more rights.

 

“But the situation in Turkey is not comparable to ours. Our situation here has never been hopeless,” adds Vandenberghe, member of Belgium Senate, who is now a member of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) and is involved in putting Kurds on the Belgian agenda.

 

Rudaw

Novemner 27, 2010

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