"> Stateless Kurds to Statehood: A Theoretic Thematic Approach


April 25, 2012

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Stateless Kurds to Statehood: A Theoretic Thematic Approach

Kurdishaspect.com - By Christo Olatunji-Odeyemi

In 2011, the Tunisia originated Arab Spring brings unprecedented recognition to Islamic states citizens. Now, citizens can cautiously voice their common desires for socio-political changes. Less than two years ago, such collective rebellion against authoritarian governments who rule their citizens with near absolute power would have been met with commensurable force. Innocent demonstrators demanding for changes and recognition of basic human rights would have risk instant arrest and summary prosecution without the benefit of court appearance. 

Now things are changing, albeit slowly. We are witnessing power of the people in action. A relatively uncharted significance of the Arab Spring domino effects is its implications for the concept of statelessness. With an estimated population of about 40 – 50 million, the Kurds are the fourth largest Middle East ethnic group and constitutes the largest stateless citizens globally. They are also agitating for overdue recognition and radical policy changes to Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Turkish and former Soviet Union states’ politics of tacitly sustained suppression and human rights denial.

Yes, changes are possible. Iran, Syria and Turkey have recently witnessed increased democratic advocacy from local Kurds. Nonetheless, such democratic change has a key prerequisite. The Kurds needs to strengthen their subscription to the right to self-governance, security, liberty and indeed absolute living. That is, the nonnegotiable right for Kurds to live as they desire, within democratic limits and without harm to other people. 

There is a catch though. This is due to a popular belief among Kurds that they cannot subject themselves to any authority. This is not a democratically progressive concept. It is definitely at odds with contemporary democratic systems. For one thing, democratic pacifism would support Kurds sustained peaceful bargaining to eventual self-governance. Critics might premise an argument that political democracy and conflict cannot be reasonably separated. This critics understanding of conflict arguably parallels Kurdish (probably a minority) reluctance to be subjective to a sovereign.

Nonetheless, I will level these opposing assertions on the ground that the true realism of political processes and democracy is fraught with conflicting interests. Essentially, the Kurds need to better embrace the concept of democracy – as a strategic instrument to liberty and self-governance.

On a philosophical basis, John Locke says that God created us equally. Thomas Hobbes, the influential political philosopher, argues that a reasonable and well trodden path to peaceful coexistence is recognition of a common or majority elected sovereign. In his theory of political legitimacy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on his part, asserts that any unrecognised sovereign who believes in superiority is merely flexing its dominion over non-existent subjects.

Invariably, the Kurds have always maintained their liberty, even under various governments’ brutal suppressions. What we now need from the Kurds minority who still clings to non-recognition of a majority chosen democratic governance – is for them to join the mainstream. We need all hands on deck to turn the long overdue statelessness to statehood. Every single human deserves liberty. The Kurds deserves full autonomy. If autonomous in this sense means Kurdish liberty. By this, I mean a nation state gains its liberty when it started self-governance through United Nations recognised independence. 

This approach to liberty can be individualised. What I am trying to clarify is that only I, as a free individual, have sole authority over myself. This logic is interesting. Self-directed action is a prerequisite for freedom or absence of imposed ideals. Essentially, such imposition absence is meaningless if I cannot act as I want. This translates that liberty is still constrained when we conform to government’s impositions. 

Let us look at it this way. Consider a Kurd X with sound political manifesto who is advocating for democratic governance. Kurd Y has the freedom to nominate Z on the basis of their mutual believe in non-recognition of government rule over Kurds. Simply put, Y is just a clog in the wheel of Kurdish democratic liberty calls.

Thus the central issue can be formulated as: who and why should we conform to authority delineated liberty? This is not simply a political question. It is an issue that subjects who are conditioned to unconditional obedience may never seriously ponder unless they are open-minded about sovereignty. Let me put it this way. Liberty or freedom absolutism has social advantages that are simultaneously offset by political disadvantages. Our liberty becomes a volatile issue when it is highly valued because such liberty constrains government’s excessiveness. 

Consequently, liberty’s political significance is more sovereignty prized than individually. From a social perspective, I can easily interview Hollywood celebrities about their extramarital affairs because such liberty lacks any real political value. Globally, citizens’ liberty are seriously checked when such freedom hinges politically sensitive issues. Ultimately, it is imperative to recognise democratically chosen national government because liberty absolutism is merely an abstraction. 

On this note, I will borrow from another influential philosopher. John Stuart Mill advocates that suppressed free speech may be true and we must verify its validity. The liberty of allowing free speech’s contradiction validates its truthfulness. Vice versa, the Kurd’s subscription to majority chosen self-government allows such government to validate the legitimacy of Kurdish people liberty.

Christo Olatunji-Odeyemi holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from University of Auckland. He is currently studying towards Graduate Diploma Arts (Social Policy) at Massey University – New Zealand.

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