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Plight of the Kurds

To the Editors:

The situation in Kurdistan has taken a tragic turn. For about a year the Iraqi government has been conducting large-scale operations against the Kurdish minority, which constitutes nearly a third of the population of Iraq. Coming upon the heels of the Soviet-Iraqi treaty of April 1972, which deprived the Kurds of important political support, and after the Turkish-Iraqi agreement of last summer, which guarantees the strict closure of the Turkish border, the agreements signed at Algiers in the beginning of March by the Shah and the vice president of the Iraqi council of ministers have succeeded in depriving the Kurdish fighters of all logistical support.

The connivance of the states in the region, regardless of their professed ideologies, has had the effect of stifling the struggle for self-determination by an oppressed national minority.

The Kurdish people are fighting because they reject the policy of Arab-ification of the Iraqi government, the amputation of the richest half of their territory, and political tutelage by the authorities in Baghdad.

Refugees escaping the bombardments and the excesses of the Iraqi army already number in the tens of thousands and there is reason to fear that the present offensive will take on a particularly cruel character. The public must be made aware of the situation. To destroy a national minority remains a criminal act even when those responsible for such a policy proclaim themselves to be adherents of socialism.

The signers of this appeal affirm the right to self-determination of the Kurdish people: they deplore the Iraqi military offensive which has as its aim the liquidation of the Kurdish national movement, and they call upon international organizations and the forces of democracy to intervene in order to prevent a massacre.

From the US: Dr. Benjamin Spock, Professor Gerald Holton, Professor Stanley Hoffmann, Professor Morris Halle, Professor Salvador Luria, Professor Howard Zinn, George and Ruth Wald, Professor Robert Cohen, Professor Everett Mendelsohn, Noam Chomsky. From France: S. de Beauvoir, G. Chaliand, J.-M. Domenach, R. Lafont, M. Leiris, E. Morin, M. Rodinson, J.-P. Sartre, L. Schwartz, Vercors, P. Vidal-Naquet

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