Kurds: Demonstration for the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne

About 6,000 people gathered in Lausanne for a major Kurdish demonstration to mark the centenary of the treaty that limited modern Turkey’s borders in this Swiss city and to condemn its consequences for Kurds, according to police and media sources.

According to the same sources, Kurdish community gatherings regularly take place around the anniversary date of the treaty, attracting a few hundred protesters, but they were far more than usual.

Leaving from around the Château d’Ochi hotel on Lake Geneva, where pre-treaty talks were hosted, they marched with flags bearing the image of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been jailed since 1999, to Rumain Palace in the city center, where the 1923 signing took place.

“We want to take advantage of this century to show to the whole world that the Kurdish question is unresolved. And the consequences of the Treaty of Lausanne are still felt tragically,” he told Swiss press agency ATS Hretin Oztekin, a member of the Kurdistan Cultural Center (CCK).

According to the CCK, the treaty “separated the Kurdish people between four states, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, which largely failed at the democratic level”.

In Turkey, according to the CCK, the Kurds were “abandoned for the nationalistic and racist Turkish state by the great powers, which led to a century of genocide, forced population displacement and policies of repression and assimilation”.

For Berivan Firat, a spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Council of France, “the Kurdish people, like all the peoples of the world, claim the right to live on their own land with their own identity”.

Kurdish demonstrations in Lausanne, July 22, 2023, to mark the centenary of the treaty limiting the borders of modern Turkey and condemning its consequences for the Kurds

“This treaty has opened the door to all bullying, all genocide against the Kurdish people,” he told AFP. “Our critics are the worst dictators in the Middle East and the time has come to exonerate the Kurdish movement and above all to review the Treaty of Lausanne which has no value to us. It is null and void.”

The Lausanne Conference began in November 1922 to renegotiate the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire, which Turkey no longer claimed under the auspices of its new leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The conference, led by Britain, France, Italy and Turkey, was coordinated by British diplomacy.

Among other consequences, the treaty was followed by a forced exchange of population between Turkey and Greece. Eastern Anatolia was annexed to present-day Turkey in exchange for giving up claims on Syria and Iraq from the Ottoman era.

Armenians and Kurds were sidelined and their territorial ambitions curtailed.

“We apologize to Lausanne, which has divided Kurdistan into four parts,” said a protester named Munevar Gok, a 56-year-old housewife living in the Netherlands.

Cardo Lucas Larsen, 41, who lives in Denmark, told AFP: “We know that no country can help us make the right decisions to solve the Kurdish problem.

“A demonstration like this brings the Kurdish people together and gives us a sense of belonging to one nation,” he said.

Add a Comment