Kurdistan Parliament in Exile

   The Kurdistan Parliament in Exile (in Kurdish, Parlamana Kurdistane Li Derveyi Welat [PKDW]) was established by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other interested Kurdish bodies and personalities in 1995. It held its first plenary session in The Hague 12-16 April 1995. Headquartered in Brussels, subsequent plenary sessions of the peripatetic parliament were held in a number of European cities, including Vienna, Moscow, Copenhagen, and Rome.
   Actually, the idea of such a body had been bandied about since at least 1993. Abdullah Ocalan (the PKK leader) envisioned such a structure evolving into something analogous to the African National Congress in South Africa or the Indian Congress Party. Kemal Burkay, the nonviolent leader of the Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK) of Turkey and a longtime opponent of Ocalan, had even been mentioned as a possible leader, but in the end he declined.
   According to its founding bylaws, the parliament consisted of 65 members elected from the exiled Kurdish MPs from the Demokrasi Partisi (DEP) in Turkey, mayors, Kurdish personalities, Assyrians, women, and representatives from national institutions, youth organizations, and trade associations. Thus, it represented "the will of people both inside and outside of Kurdistan" and would "constitute the first step of the new Kurdistan National Congress." Ocalan himself declared that the parliament was the first necessary step toward creating federative districts for the entire Kurdish population living in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. As the oldest member, Ismet Cheriff Vanly served as the body's temporary chair until Yasar Kaya, the first chair of the DEP, was elected the permanent speaker. Virtually all the members were sympathetic to the PKK.
   The parliament's first session elected a 15-person executive council chaired by Zubeyir Aydar, a former DEP member of the Turkish parliament. Seven committees also were chosen: judiciary; international affairs; education, culture, and the arts; ethnic and religious communities; public relations and information; finance; and women and youth.
   A list of some of the more important aspects of the parliament's 35-point program will give an idea of the range of functions the parliament envisioned for itself: establishing a national parliament of a free Kurdistan; entering into voluntary agreements with the neighboring peoples; strengthening the national liberation struggle to end the foreign occupation of Kurdistan; undertaking programs to safeguard the political, cultural, and social rights of the Kurds; implementing the rules of war that relate to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and 1977 to bring about a mutual cease-fire; taking the question of Kurdistan to the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Council, the European Parliament, and other international institutions; securing an observer status for the Kurds in the just mentioned international bodies; pressuring the international community to initiate military, economic, and political embargoes against Turkey; working to establish unity between Kurdish political parties, organizations, institutions, and influential personalities; ending the fratricidal war then going on between the Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan; preparing draft resolutions concerning a constitution, laws on citizenship, conscription, and civil, penal, and environmental matters; ending oppression against women; improving the Kurdish language; laying the foundations for a national library and honoring Ahmad-i Khani; establishing schools and universities; dissuading the Kurdish youth from serving in "enemy" armies, rather than in the Kurdish national army; and building friendships with other peoples, including the democratic public of Turkey.
   From its inception, the Kurdish Parliament in Exile was handicapped by its image of being an organ of the PKK. As a result, such major states as the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany refused to recognize it. In addition, most other important Kurdish parties such as the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Massoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani remained aloof, thus inhibiting the parliament's attempt to represent all Kurds. Turkey, of course, put great pressure on foreign states not to cooperate with the parliament. In an attempt to broaden its constituency, the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile dissolved itself into the supposedly more inclusive Kurdistan National Congress (KNC) in May 1999.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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