MESOP 12.3.2013 – The Kurds are the largest people in the world without an internationally recognized country. Kurdistan has been occupied by different states. The Kurds are at best treated as second-class citizens. This long history has many problems. There is little unity and a large part of the Kurdish history has been lost.
The Kurds speak different dialects and many struggle to run counter to total assimilation. These problems also play a role in the Kurdish communities in the diaspora. In the seventies the first Kurds came to the Netherlands. At first thousands of Kurds came here as labour workers and later as political refugees. Over the years, the Kurds are united in various associations and organizations, sometimes politically, sometimes in the field of culture. Thus, there are many islands established, but little cooperation was effectuated.
Only in recent years more and more Kurds realize that they will forever reside in the Netherlands and therefore have an interest in having a voice in Dutch society. There are many opportunities to act as a community, but because of the internal divisions they have been hardly utilized. The Kurds are one of the best-integrated groups in Dutch society, but the opportunities it offers are not effectively utilized. There are dozens of Kurdish associations and organizations offering a wide range of activities. But there is little contact between them and that is a missed opportunity for the Kurds, because in this way they remain invisible.
For example of lobbying is little accomplished. For that you have to speak with one voice, only then you are taken seriously and can you develop a solid foundation.
It’s not that these problems cannot be seen. Within the community are many things changing. Whole generations of young Kurds are now born in the Netherlands and are very familiar with the society. They will increasingly question why the Kurds are still an invisible and forgotten group. It is not that the young generations try to assimilate in Dutch society. They know their past and their culture well, but want to move ahead, by finding that the Kurdish community is recognized and gains influence, as it deserves. Therefore it is important to take the past as a legacy, but still focus on the future. The Kurds have much to gain if the mechanisms of Dutch society are properly used. Do nothing and wait, is similar to losing.
Many things in society are important for Kurds, education, healthcare, safety, employment and a good social system. All things that are now under increasing pressure. To defend your interests and further contributing to the future, a unity within the community is needed. This is not so much about the political background or ideology you adhere to. It is important that the community can organise itself to act more effectively externally. Political organizations and parties have their place within the community, but the interests that now play transcend all these organizations. What is needed now and in the future is going to cooperate with another and to create a unity. Clever use of the opportunities for Kurdish interests in the Netherlands should gain place on the Dutch political agenda. Also studying the possibilities to cooperate with other communities is of the essence. Indeed, unity creates power and that is what it’s all about if you actually want to achieve something.
The motto of every Kurdish organization in the Netherlands should be “What is good for the Kurdish community, is also good for my organization.” The private interests of the various organizations should therefore be pushed more into the background. Other forms of cooperation and interest should be pursued with renewed vigour. This will strengthen the community and unity. The Kurdish society is here to stay and one can deny that.
From the recognition of interdependence, the Kurdish organizations have come to agreements on processes that enable to shape this process and, secondly, to achieve greater strategic cooperation: a common agenda as “remedy” against organizational divisions.
More than a year ago, the initiative to establish the Kurdish Platform Netherlands started. At this point of time there are more than 60 Kurdish organizations active in the Netherlands, and some of these groups have already been contacted. The development to bring a collaborative platform was not easy. The obstacles were enormous. Within the Kurdish community there are many negative experiences and trends that contributed to the lack of collaboration. The process has had many ups and downs. During the last six months an initiative committee addressed the project more effectively. These consist of the following organizations and individuals:
1. KVN Midia
3. Koerdisch Academisch Netwerk (KAN)
4. KURDISTAN WOMEN UNION – EUROPE
5. Cultureel Centrum Koerden (C.C.K)
6. Koerdische Vrouwen Vereniging Amsterdam (KVVA)
7. Koerdisch Union association
8. Informatiecentrum Yekiti
9. Koerdisch-Nederlands Samenwerkings Centrum
10. Koerdische Studenten Vereniging Nederland (KSVN)
11. Koerdische Instituut in Nederland (KIN)
12. Koerdocide Watch (CHAK)
The initiative committee has discussed in a democratic, transparent and involved atmosphere the existing project and discussed new improvements and additions. The task of this committee was to take away all obstacles in establishing the ‘Kurdish Platform Netherlands’. The initiative committee has delivered great work. During the last meeting (on April 6th 2012), the committee concluded that it has achieved its objective. There is now a project that has the approval of all participants. On April 6 2012, it was decided that an interim board consisting of 11 people where to be given the task to take over the committee’s responsibilities. The interim board has been given the mandate to inform the Kurdish community in the Netherlands and also contact the Kurdish organizations on these accomplishments. Thus, the Platform can be further developed, with an open door for any organization or persons who feel involved in the Kurdish community in the Netherlands.
The mission of the PKN
Representing the Kurdish community in the Netherlands and thus argue for the recognition of equal rights for the Kurds and other minorities;
Promoting integration and emancipation of the Kurds within the Dutch society;
Facilitate communication, information exchange and cooperation between the Kurdish organizations in the Netherlands and, if necessary in European context.
Advising and supporting Kurdish organizations in local and national projects.
Objectives The Kurdish Platform Netherlands has the following objective:
Advocating the interests of the Kurdish community in the Netherlands
Striving together for recognition of the Kurdish identity in the Netherlands
Acting as an advisory in name of the Kurdish community in the Netherlands for the Dutch government and all other affiliated organizations.
Promoting cooperation and friendship between the Dutch and the Kurdish community in the Netherlands and abroad.
Taking up the role of a representative body and mediator
Collaborate with other national organizations of immigrants in the Netherlands.
The PKN is an organizational model installed, in which the target group (representatives) and policies meet each other systematically in different fields and levels. They should also consult, communicate and jointly undertake assignments and tasks. The PKN is an open partnership, collaboration and consultation model that gives substance on different levels of involvement and participation.
Our starting point for building good cooperation between the Kurdish organizations in the Netherlands is friendship, mutually supportive actions, successful promotion, lobbying and involvement. This will provide a good basis for mutual trust. And precisely this trust is necessary to do business together. It is like a proof of good intentions, the will to work together to achieve results. It also means that difficulties and tendencies to behave opportunistically can be resolved together. This confidence will eventually exude and that will make us a reliable partner for the government, institutions and communities. This is a process that takes time, but because the end result is so important it is definitely the
worthwhile. We, the Kurds have confidence in each other, and we need that to grow. Promoting trust is a necessity and an important strategic factor within the Kurdish community. Disunity has grated us nothing in the past and will not do so in the future. Therefore it is time for the next step.
The interim board invites all Kurdish organizations in the Netherlands to participate in the Kurdish Platform Netherlands. The platform is owned by all of us. All organizations and individuals have equal rights in a democratic, transparent atmosphere to work, discuss and take action. We ask the Kurdish community in the Netherlands to support the platform. Without the support of the Kurdish community, our mission will not succeed. Together we’ll stand strong and together we can face the future with confidence