Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Women's Conference in Turkey on Gender Discrimination - by Soraya Fallah

Women's Conference in Turkey on Gender Discrimination 

- by Soraya Fallah

Conference 2013
The First Middle Eastern Women’s Conference on Gender Discrimination, Women's Role in Recent Political Changes, Problems and Possible Solutions in the Middle East
By Soraya Fallah
On May 31st to June 3rd, 2013
The First Middle Eastern Women’s Conference was held by DÖKH (Democratic Free Women Movement) in Diyarbakir (Amed) in Southeastern Turkey.  It was attended by more than 250 women from 27 states and non-state nations primarily from the Middle East, North Africa and some observers from South Asia. 
We all gathered in Diyarbakir (Amed) under the slogan Women, Life, Freedom, (in Kurdish: Jin, Jyan, Azadi) to mobilize the blooming women’s democratic movements in the region and to strengthen the existing organizations already working tirelessly towards equality. We held various educational discussions concerning the common struggles facing women in the Middle East. We exchanged constructive ideas regarding ways to strengthen the current women’s resistance movements within local communities. We established relationships across states to form larger regional collaborations that might help create resistance movements encompassing the entire Middle East.
Women who attended this conference were politicians, academics, and activists. They were mostly representatives of political parties, national organizations, women’s organizations, civil society organizations, and journalists from regions and countries such as Afghanistn, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, all Kurdish regions (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and diaspora), Libya, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen.
Many great renowned women were in attendance. I was honored to meet them and have an opportunity to share this conference with them. I will mention a few such as: Layla Zana, Kurdish politician, parliamentarian, and several times noble peace prize nominee and recipient of several major awards was present at this conference.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureates, was invited to this conference as well. She was not able to attend due to another conference in Brussels, but sent a message of solidarity. I was honored to deliver the message on her behalf on Sunday June 2nd. She recognized the conference as progress and wrote eloquently on the importance of human rights and democracy.
Unfortunately due to security reasons Kurdish women from within Iran and Syria were not able to attend. The Kurdish women from inside of Iran who were in attendance are currently living in diaspora.
The media was present but not limited to traditional forms of media such as TV networks. The conference was highly technologically equipped, which allowed attendees to live broadcast, tweet or send their speeches across social media within minutes.
There were several days of back-to-back sessions covering various topics from history to more effective forms of activism. Each session included expert speakers and question and answer sections. The first day of the conference was on the Construction of Social History and Social Sexism based on Women in Middle East. Some of the topics discussed were:
-Women history in Middle East
- Construction of sexism in the Middle East
- The process of colonization and nationalism in the Middle East
- Oppressive systems of power and political Islamic approach to women
The second and third days were called “Experience Sharing” where the main idea was that women are the owners of different cultures, beliefs, and experiences and can fight against the problems stemming from a patriarchal mindset.
The role of Women’s Movements Experience and Recent political changes in the Middle East were the main focus of discussion.  Academics and activists spoke and shared their expertise on various topics related to:
- The role of women in the process of revolution resistance in the Middle East and their quest for freedom
- Political structures during changing process against women rights and women struggle against the structures
- Middle East women’s rights, civil, political expression in public life, participation in decision-making and the issues of representation
Some other topics of note were:
- Stoning to death in the Middle East, parenting rights, polygamy, circumcision, home confinement, child marriages - The neo-liberal policies of capitalist modernity against women
- Common problems of women’s movements battle in the Middle East and solutions
Women’s geographic and social similarities with
- Common organization models,
- Structural problems (alienation, miscommunication, and so on)
- Building and Strengthening women struggle and solidarity development ties
- Discussing how should a democratic society model based on women can be created
I can say that more than 80 participants had a chance to speak on behalf of either their delegates or themselves and deliberated on these topics. And 30 others talked during questions and answer. Women talked about their experiences and their struggles. Overall this was a very interactive conference and the majority of the attendees stayed engaged throughout the conference with a high turn out every session. The organizers were great at keeping everyone informed regarding the schedule.
Unfortunately an Israeli delegation was not in attendance. From the discussions the Palestinian and some of the Egyptian women would boycott the conference if they were to be invited. One of the members of the organizing committee said that they had invited one woman from Israel but she could not attend.
It is very important to have a representative from all the Middle Eastern nations and non-state people. Since it was claimed that this is non-governmental non-discriminatory conference for women in the Middle East it is important to be inclusive and promote peace in the region.
My  topic was originally on “ Political and Civil Participation and the Arab Awaking; Kurdish Women’s case” but due to the interest of time (I only had 10 minutes) I cut it down to “Kurdish Women from Iran and Their Political Participation.” This was a topic that the other women had not covered yet.
In my short speech I pointed out that Kurdish women have always significantly participated in politics through resistance.  The growing population of women in political parties proves their involvement. Whether these women’s motivation is to fight patriarchy or political oppression, they are aware that their participation in political activities empowers them.
Part of The Final Declaration that aims joint struggle and international solidarity among the women from the Middle East, North Africa and Arab Countries has an historical importance in terms of its function for being a road map for the upcoming years. We are the 250 women from 27 countries who are in opposition to repression, colonialist regimes, occupations, neo-liberal politics and racism came together and shared their experiences with the occasion of the 1st Middle East Women's Conference between 31 May - 2 June 2013 in Amed.  We have discussed recent political developments as well as women's struggle for equity and freedom.
As the conference delegation we thanked the Democratic Free Women’s Movement for bringing us together. We salute the Union of Free Women of Kurdistan which provides an opportunity for revolutionary change for the freedom struggle of women. We perceive this conference as a result of Kurdish Women' struggle.
We are going through a historic and important process. The Middle East and North Africa are living a conversion and restructuring process. This critical process means an opportunity and risk, as well, for women.   As Middle Eastern countries get more freedom in their areas we are hoping that the women of those countries will also get more liberties to pursue their dreams for themselves and their daughters.  This is especially true in the need for women to become literate and to get a better education.  I am hoping that we declare more summit conferences where we can follow-up on Middle Eastern women’s accomplishments and we can analyze what still needs to be done.
Our conference is a new political ground for women and promises hope to internationally struggle against tyrants, dictators and male-dominant system. We must sustain a better life for the Middle Eastern region and to strengthen the ground is up to us.
We as women trust ourselves and say that the peace will come to these lands by the women.
For complete section on the declaration please read the interview:
An opportunity to see the great city of Diyarbakir; it is one the oldest cities in the Middle East
The participants were able to make a few short stops.
On the first night all attendees were invited to Kashan Koshk (Kashan Castle) where the famous Kurdish singer Rojda sang along with her musical group.
The conference attendees visited a courthouse to observe the legal proceedings of several activists in Turkey.   Some conference attendees were able to go to Dersim to pay a visit to Sakineh Gansiz’s memorial.
Despite the conditions in Southeast Turkey (Kurdistan) some clear differences can be observed. People are voicing their dissent openly. For example, on the tour of the city of Diyarbakir (Amed) a person was wearing a pin with a photo of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan.  He was asked if he was not afraid of getting arrested?  “Why should I be afraid? They should be afraid of me,” he responded.
A part of our tour through the city was a trip to the courthouse of Diyarbakir. A group of 100 of the conference attendees were taken as observers to a Turkish criminal court to the trial of 40 Kurdish women and men.  They had been arrested on charges of membership of parties such as the PKK or arrested individually under anti-state charges. They were allowed to speak Kurdish with the presence of an interpreter. This is a new development within the Turkish judicial process. Up until 2012, Turkish was the only spoken language and Kurdish was banned.  Recently a massive hunger strike, lasting more than two months by Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, led to some reforms, such as the right to speak Kurdish with the help of an interpreter. The prisoner or his/her family must hire (out of pocket) their own interpreters, which many cannot afford.

Message of Support for the conference by Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi' s Message of Support for the First Middle Eastern conference in Dyarbakir

I am honored to deliver the message by Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi’s message of support for the conference
I am very sorry that I am losing the chance to attend the conference because I am traveling.
Women, where ever they reside, are ambassadors of peace and security.
But we should keep in mind that peace is desirable and real when it is firmly laid on two foundations: democracy and social justice.
The classic definition of democracy is that the majority rule, but remember that some of history’s dictators, such as Hitler, came to power in the name of such democracy.
Thus victory in elections does not mean democracy. Democracy has a framework. That framework is a a free election, but beyond that, it also means that the majority are within reach of the power to govern. And most importantly the government should not violate the right of others.
The framework of democracy should be human rights principles, in other words, the government’ legitimacy is not only from the ballot box, but rather the legitimacy of any government depends on two things: the regulation of free elections and respect for human rights.
With this definition of democracy, no government has the right to ignore ethnic, racial, or religious minorities in the country. And every nation and minorities should urge governments of their cultural, social, and economic rights, and they should not be intimidated.
Meaning of Freedom of expression in human rights’ principals is freedom of speech for the minority who can not otherwise achieve political power. It is not about those who are loud and can praise the rulers in every state .
The opposition must be just as free to express themselves and suggest the formation of a seminar on different aspects, such as the conference you’re holding this week, so that discussions about human rights and democracy can take place.
Hopefully in the coming days you’ll have many energetic sessions.
Once again, it’s very unfortunate that I am not able to be there but I wish you all much success.
Great Regards
Shirin Ebadi

Director of WWFL, meet with the mayor of Diyarbakir,

Director of WWFL, Soraya Fallah meet with the mayor of Diyarbakir, Mr. Osman Baydamyr
Voice of Kurds living in America

Monday Jun4th  Soraya Fallah women's rights and social and civic rights advocate in a formal meeting with Mr. "Osman Baydamyr"  delivered greeting message from Kurdish community of Southern California . Soraya extended the opportunity for a tied relationship between city of Dyarbakr and LosAngeles and the opportunity to exchange student between universities in NewYork and LosAngeles. in various fields of experimental and social science .Mr. Baydamyr embracing the idea it and talk about  the talented youth and the necessary training to  improve the situation of the city.
In this meeting  Soraya extended her excitement about  the Middle Eastern Women's Conference and the role of the mayor in holding such an landmark events. Mr. Baydamyr gave some book about highlights of the city to  the library of Kurdish community is Southern California and looking forward fot the future cooperation measures.
Please check the following Photos:


Osman Baydemir is a Kurdish politician, lawyer and human rights activist in east Turkey. He is the current mayor of his home town of Diyarbakır and member of the Peace and Democracy Party.

amed_book.jpg soraya_fallah_osman_baydemir_01.jpg
baydamir_soraya_fallah.jpg diyarbaker_city_hall.jpg

Soraya Fallah meet with the mayor of Diyarbakir, Mr. Osman Baydamyr

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A letter to Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, by two Kurdish Human Rights organizations in the United States

A letter to Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, by two Kurdish Human Rights organizations in the United States

 July 21, 2013
Your Excellency Dr. Ahmed Shaheed,
U.N Special rapporteur for Iran to the Human Rights Council
Dear Dr. Shaheed:
Let us commend you for your latest comprehensive report on Human rights violations in Iran and your advocacy for open conversations about human rights. We share your concerns and hopes for changes in the status quo.
As you continue to work on the continuing violations of human rights in Iran, we are sure you are aware that the condition of ethnic minority groups, Kurds, in particular, is deteriorating. Violations of human rights continue as the increasing militarization of Kurdish cities and towns contributes to even more pervasive human rights abuses in violation of Article 27 of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities .
These abuses as your latest report on the situation of human rights in Iran had documented, include arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, torture, and summary executions, and public hanging .
In 2012, 160 journalists, bloggers, human right and cultural activists, members of religious minorities were arrested, many of whom still await trial. Kurds are also disproportionately represented in the officially documented list of impending executions. As listed in the attached document, out of 83 prisoners condemned to death, 54 (65%) are Kurdish.
From 2009, 13 Kurdish prisoners have lost their lives in prison as a result of torture and abusive treatment. Many Kurdish prisoners of conscience remain in prison without any legal resources and recourse. Several prisoners deprived of medical care have died in custody. Kurds as a distinct ethnic minority continue to suffer from institutionalized social, religious, and cultural discrimination. They experience internal displacement, expulsions, linguistic discrimination, suppression of publications, imprisonment of journalists and imposition of heavy bails on detainees. Psychological torture and intimidation through public ridicule and humiliation is becoming the hallmark of the Islamic Republic of Iran as it was the case with dressing up a convict as a Kurdish woman, the stigmatization of Yarsan and draconian restrictions against their religious practices are the latest examples of the Islamic Republic's flagrant violations of Kurdish human rights.
Kurdish political and human rights organizations and activists are treated and punished even more harshly. Even lawyers of Kurdish prisoners are not immune from persecution and imprisonment. Every year hundreds of the so-called Kurdish "border crosser" and couriers, many of whom young children are mercilessly killed by the Iranian patrolmen on the borders of Iran, Turkey and Iraq.
From 2010 to 2012, 320 couriers were slain and many more injured (Please see the attachment). The plight of these couriers despite documented massacres and injuries is largely ignored and rarely reported and investigated by the international community. We are working on documenting the recurring violations of human rights to report to your office for consideration and review to be included in your next report.
We are grateful that your office has begun to address some of our concerns;
we have indeed seen some positive signs by the UN to address more specifically the situation of Kurdish human rights in Iran as defined in the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. We welcome this increased attention; nevertheless, these steps are inadequate and fall short of expectations as stipulated in Article 27 of the aforementioned treaty.
Kurds have no other hope and aspiration beyond these international treaties to protect them against discriminatory practices and ensure that they enjoy their fundamental freedoms and cultural and linguistic rights. In this context the United Nations has a key role to play both in the protection and promotion of the Kurdish ethnic, political, cultural and linguistic rights.
It is our hope that you continue to pay particular attention to the situation of the Kurdish human rights in the context of Kurds as a distinct ethnic and linguistic group. It is imperative that the UN visit Kurdish areas to gain a better insight into the actual condition of human rights in Kurdish areas in Iran. You would be happy to lend you our support in your difficult and yet very important mission.
Dr. Amir Sharifi
  Director of Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group
Dr.  Azad Moradian
  Chair of Kurdish American Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Iran (KACDHI)
+ بو گوى گرتن له به رنامه كانى ردوى تكايه له سه ر وينه كه ى خوارو بچيركينه
+ براي شنيدن برنامه هاي راديو  روي تصوير راديو كليك كنيد