Conference on Democracy, Self-Determination and Liberation of Peoples

Held at the European Parliament, 23 September 2013. The final outcomes of the conference, set out in a declaration, are published below.

PRESS RELEASE

European Parliament
Brussels, Belgium
September 23, 2013

BRUSSELS, Belgium—Over a hundred representatives from various countries, civil society groups and grassroots organizations gathered at the European Parliament to hold the Conference on Democracy, Self-Determination and Liberation of Peoples last September 23, 2013. Organized by the offices of Members of the European Parliament Jürgen Klute and Iñaki Irazabalbeitia, IBON International and KONKURD (Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe), the conference aims to reaffirm the fundamental principles enshrined in the various UN declarations on the collective rights of peoples to self-determination and liberation.

An initiative supported by members of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Group (GUE/NGL) and The Greens/European Free alliance of the European Parliament, the conference was attended by estemeed and highly respected speakers such as Dr. Hans Köchler (International Progress Organization, Austria), Cynthia McKinney (former member of the US House of Representatives), Luis Jalandoni (National Democratic Front, Philippines), and other field specialists and grassroots organizers advocating for economic democracy, self-determination, peace, women’s rights, collective rights and the liberation of peoples.

The conference was organized in response to the continued violations and threats against the various human rights recognized by the international community and the imperative demand to reaffirm these rights in the face of challenges generated by the war on terror and foreign intervention that tend to negate the national sovereignty of countries and the right of peoples’ to self-determination. Participants shared their own experiences concerning their own people’s resistance to various forms of human rights violations and other conditions of inequality and injustice.

Aside from the main sponsors, the event was also sponsored and endorsed by many international organizations such as ABERTZALE LEFT, CENI (Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace), Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), International Women’s Alliance (IWA), International Action Center, Mondial Pour Les Droits Des Peuples Collectifs (Federation of Collective People’s Rights) and the People’s Forum on Peace for Life. The conference is set to release an outcome document that contains the main points of unity agreed upon during the whole-day event.

Declaration of the Conference on Democracy, Self-determination and Liberation of Peoples

We, participants of the Conference on Democracy, Self-determination and Liberation of Peoples, held at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, make the following declaration:

We agreed that more than ever the peoples of the world need to reaffirm their commitment for the realization of the lofty ideals of democracy, self-determination and liberation of peoples enshrined in numerous universally recognized international conventions and treaties.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

The UN General Assembly in resolution 1514 states that “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

“We live at a time of great hopes and deep despair; a time of conflicts and contradictions; a time when liberation struggle have succeeded in arousing the peoples of the world against the domestic and international structures of imperialism and in overturning colonial systems…But this is also a time of frustration and defeat, as new forms of imperialism evolve to oppress and exploit the peoples of the world…all the peoples of the world have an equal right to liberty, the right to free themselves from any foreign interference and to choose their own government, the right if they are under subjection, to fight for their liberation and the right to benefit from other peoples’ assistance in their struggle.” (Algiers Declaration of 1976)

Humankind has achieved a level of material and spiritual progress sufficient to build a world of freedom, peace and prosperity.  And yet, all around us, we see the widespread lack of freedom, endless wars and dehumanizing poverty.

Governments profess their adherence to democracy, but their practice is quite another matter.  In many cases, democratic forms and processes are in place, but the substance of democracy remains a far cry from reality especially in terms of equal access to economic, social and cultural opportunities by the vast majority of the people.

Countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa that gained their independence from colonial domination decades ago continue to struggle to assert their sovereignty and independence against attempts at domination and re-colonization by hegemonic powers.  Peoples and nations, and in particular women, youth, workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable sectors in many parts of the world continue to struggle for their collective and individual rights in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres.

After lively and constructive discussions among the participants of the conference comprising Kurds, Filipinos, Basques, Tamils and Palestinians, members of civil society organizations and representatives from the European Parliament, we reaffirm the inherent right of all peoples and nations to self-determination and express our support to liberation movements that are struggling for it.

We fully support the legitimate political democratic struggles of the peoples whose fundamental human rights and freedoms are being attacked, whose rights to their lands, culture and language are suppressed as in the case of the Kurds, Palestinians, Basques, Tamils, the peoples of the Philippines and other nations.

We affirm the exclusive right of all peoples over their natural wealth and resources; and their right to the conservation, protection and improvement of their environment.

We call upon the European Union, international institutions and all people of goodwill to support the negotiation processes towards a political solution like that between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the government of the Philippines to resolve the roots of the armed conflict; in the Kurdish Question, between Kurdish Leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish government; in the Palestinian question, between Palestine and Israel, in the case of the Basque people with the Spanish state, and between the FARC and the government of Colombia among others.

We support the method of dialogue toward a political solution to the highly militarized conflicts in the Middle East. We oppose any external military intervention in Syria because it will not lead to a just solution. We affirm our support for a Democratic Syria where Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians and people from different beliefs and ethnic identities can enjoy the recognition of their rights and identities in a multicultural society.  We affirm the right of the peoples of Syria to decide for themselves without any foreign interference.

Our conference demands the release of the leaders of people’s liberation struggles like Abdullah Ocalan, Arnaldo Otegi, Alan Jazmines and all political prisoners.

We decry the death-sentencing and execution of Kurdish activists by the Iranian government and demand the release of all political prisoners particularly those on death row in Iranian prisons.  We condemn the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment on political prisoners practiced in many countries.

The conference urgently requests the French government to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators and disclose the political forces involved in the assassination of the three Kurdish women leaders Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez on 9 January 2013 in Paris.

This conference condemns the criminalization of legitimate liberation movements and the demonization of their leaders and demand the cancellation of all arbitrary terrorist listings.

We have decided to create a committee to follow up all decisions and resolutions we have made in this conference. #

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