The ill winds of history are blowing again toward Kurdistan.
Serious threats have been made by Kurdistan’s powerful neighbors (Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey) to punish it for having expressed by an overwhelming margin its desire for independence.
Closure of Kurdistan’s airspace by Iraq; a possible shut off of its oil pipeline by Turkey; the threatened closing of land routes by Iran; embargo, blockade, the rattling of sabers. A small, landlocked population on the verge of being taken prisoner, smothered, sequestered.
In violation of its own principles and of the right of self-determination, casting off its debt to the Peshmerga that bore so much of the burden in the common struggle against the Islamic State, paying the price daily in human lives, the international community, with the great western democracies in the lead, has condemned the referendum, appearing to align itself with the dictatorships hostile to the Kurds.
Will we abandon Kurdistan, the region’s only democracy, to its fate as it stands against a coalition of regimes that are among the most authoritarian and repressive on the planet?
Who are the ones talking about war? Who is proposing negotiation? Who is rejecting it? Who is violating all of the principles of law and coexistence among nations? Will we—in the Americas, Europe, and Asia—give free rein to those who would stifle the voice of one of the few peoples in that part of the world to proudly wear the colors of a tolerant Islam, one open to other religions and compatible with human rights—including women’s rights?
We call on the governments of democratic countries to guarantee the integrity of Kurdistan and its free access to the outside world, without which neither the Kurds nor the million and a half refugees that it has taken in without regard for nationality, ethnicity, or faith can survive. This is a matter of honor. Failure to rise to the occasion will be remembered as the abandonment of a people in danger and a defeat for civilization.
We call on these governments to demand international mediation by the United Nations Security Council.
James K. Galbraith (Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs University, Texas), Pascal Bruckner (Novelist), Bernard Kouchner (Former French Minister of Foreign Affairs), Bernard-Henri Lévy (Writer and Philosopher ), Jean-Luc Marion (of the French Academy), Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Former European Deputy), Salman Rushdie (Writer), Adam Michnik (Publication Director of « Gazeta Wyborcza ») and Michael Walzer (Philosopher).