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12/13/2007: "PRESS RELEASE PARLIAMENTARIANS FOR NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION (PNSD) MARKS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY )"
PARLIAMENTARIANS FOR NATIONAL SELF-DETERMINATION (PNSD)
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
AT WESTMINSTER ON 10 DECEMBER 2007
At a packed venue in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, the cross party group 'Parliamentarians for National Self-Determination' (PNSD) marked International Human Rights Day 2007 by calling for the international community to put human rights at the heart of policy making and to adopt self determination as a key driver to resolve conflicts in a democratic and peaceful manner, in accordance with international law. The ex-Prime Minister of Kosovo informed the gathering that Kosovo was on an irreversible course to secure independence in the very near future following the failure to agree a settlement with Serbia by the UN's deadline of 10 December 2007. He was given a warm welcome by all and Lord Ahmed, Chair of PNSD wished him and his people well in their dedicated and peaceful struggle for self-determination, adding that he hoped the next time he visited the UK he would be representing a fully independent sovereign state recognised by the international community.
The resolutions passed at the event stressed that respect for human rights is critical to achieving security, dignity and prosperity for all the nations and peoples of the world. Human rights defenders were praised for their courageous efforts and a call was made for the effective punishment of those who have carried out massive violations as a matter of state policy. Speakers presenting the perspective of Kosovo, the Kurds of Turkey, the Nagas, Kashmiris and the Sikhs set out how their peoples have suffered gross violations and been denied fundamental freedoms enshrined in international law and why they now sought international support for a peaceful resolution of those conflicts. Alex Salmond MSP and MP, First Minister of Scotland, in a message to the organisers wished the event success. Given the progress of the Scottish National Party, the successful independence of Montenogro and the imminent creation of an independent Kosovo, it is obvious that the right of self-determination has a key role to play in international affairs in the years ahead and PNSD shall continue to promote that right as a collective human right which offers a unique means of enhancing democratic values.
Bajram Rexhepi, former prime minister of Kosovo, Member of Kosovo's Parliament and Mayor of Mitrovica recalled the barbaric assault on his people by the Yugoslav armed forces which led to NATO's intervention and his own decision to join the Kosovo Liberation Army as a medical doctor. He said that such an open assault on his people had led to Serbia forfeiting any sovereign claim on the territory as the people would never accept that outcome. Independence was, for the Kosovars, an expression of their right of self - determination as well as a natural and lawful outcome which the vast majority of the international community had already come to acknowledge. He said the Kosovo Government would work with those who wanted an orderly transition to independence and, in response to a question, said all necessary measures would be taken to fully protect and enfranchise Serb and other minorities within Kosovo. He thanked the organisers for giving his cause a platform at Westminster from where he hoped the UK Government would not hesitate to recognise the new state his people were about to establish.
Sebahat Tuncel, a recently elected Kurdish Member of the Turkish Parliament from Istanbul spoke of the plight of the Kurds in that country and appealed for international pressure to be put on the Turkish Government to establish a meaningful dialogue with the Kurds, rather than to adopt a military approach which could never solve the Kurdish issue. She pointed out how the Kurds were subjected to gross violations as well as being prevented from using their language, restricted from promoting their culture, disenfranchised by the banning of their political parties and the artificial barriers aimed at stopping their leaders being elected to represent them. As a matter of human rights these violations should themselves be enough for the UK and the EU to intervene but the risk of regional instability raised by continued threats by Turkey to invade northern Iraq to attack Kurdish militant should certainly prompt international action if a humanitarian catastrophe is to be avoided. She emphasised that dialogue was the only lawful and effective means of securing peace. It was pointed out that the Kurds of Turkey have sought self-determination within the current borders of Turkey - self determination may be achieved in many forms provided the will of the people determine the form. PNSD urges both sides to use exclusively peaceful means in taking forward a process to resolve the conflict and urges the international community press home that message. A paper produced by PNSD's Kurdish Advisory Panel entitled ' "The EU, Turkey and the Kurdish Question" was officially launched at the event which sets out the back ground to the conflict, suggests an appropriate EU response and reiterates the call for genuine dialogue.
A Sikh perspective on the conflict between the Sikhs and India was presented by Dr Awatar Singh Sekhon, Managing Editor of the International Journal of Sikh Affairs. He contextualised the Sikh Nation's continuing struggle to secure freedom as the sovereign right of a proud nation based on the right of self determination. The territory of the erstwhile Sikh state had been unlawfully annexed by the British in 1849, unlawfully transferred to India in 1947 and the Sikhs had never accepted the loss of their statehood. Equally, their elected representatives had rejected the Indian constitution which, somewhat incredibly, continues to class the Sikhs as "Hindus" under its notorious Article 25. Punjab's vital water resources continue to be illegally appropriated by adjoining Indian states. The attack on collective Sikh political, religious and cultural rights and the theft of their territory and resources was compounded by the devastating abuses of their individual human rights, especially since 1984 which has left Indian controlled Punjab traumatised. The international community he said must itself punish those who have carried out those abuses as India, whilst claiming to be the biggest democracy the world has known, openly grants immunity to perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Dr Sekhon warned of Indian efforts to re-write history and malign the Sikhs by branding them as the aggressors.
The Naga delegation, which had travelled from the Naga homeland, included a cultural troupe whose superb rendition of freedom songs was warmly received. The cultural distinctiveness and "unique history" of the Naga Nation has been recognised by India itself but the Indo-Naga conflict is no nearer settlement despite ceasefires and formal talks which have continued for some ten years. Mr Rh. Raising of the NSCN referred to the refusal of his people to join the Indian Union or indeed the Union of Burma. His people have resisted unlawful de facto annexation and terrible oppression; they seek peace and an honourable settlement but this has been frustrated by "false promises and assurances" from the Indian establishment whose approach to peace talks appears to amount to no more than a ploy "to buy time in order to bury the peace process under the wrap of time". He called for the UK and the wider international community to step forward and assist the Nagas, who had contributed so valiantly for the cause of freedom in the Allied war efforts in both World Wars. Dr Neivetso, Secretary General of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights mapped out the history of the Indo-Naga conflict and echoed the call for the international community and especially the UK to "live up to expectations" and intervene to facilitate a just and peaceful outcome. The PNSD Naga Advisory Panel's position paper entitled 'Nagalim' was also officially launched at the event; it will be distributed within the UK parliament and beyond to apprise policy makers of the historic Naga struggle and its current status.
Muzzammil Ayyub Thakur of Tehreek-e-Kashmir made an impassioned plea for the restoration of human rights in Kashmir where his people have been subjected to terrible and sustained abuses by India in order to crush a legitimate struggle for self-determination which the UN itself has endorsed by demanding a plebiscite to determine the will of the people. He demanded that perpetrators of mass violations in Kashmir be held accountable by the civilised powers of the world; if men like Milosovich and Saddam Hussein could be dealt with, why should not the people who carry out the violations in Kashmir? On World Human Rights Day, we must he said ask ourselves these questions. The right to life, not to be subject to torture, raped, imprisoned without charge …..the right of freedom itself - all of these have been denied in Kashmir by a state that seeks to portray itself as a democracy and has aspirations for a permanent UN Security Council seat. He said the people of Kashmir would continue their lawful struggle for self determination and said that they would work with the Sikhs, Nagas and others who had been targeted by similar oppressive tactics in a bid to deny them freedom.
Amrik Singh Sahota, OBE, President of the Council of Khalistan endorsed those sentiments and said that oppressed nations should work shoulder to shoulder to their mutual benefit in the cause of human rights and justice.
Lord Ahmed thanked those who had contributed so constructively to an important reminder - on World Human Rights Day 2007 - of the centrality of human rights in making the world a better place. He pledged that PNSD would continue to promote this core message to the UK Government and beyond.
Ranjit Singh Srai,
Parliamentarians for National Self determination.