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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1609

(Question No. 605)

Senator Chipp asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 10 October 1985:

(1) Has Australia either raised or spoken on the Kurdish right to national self-determination in any United Nations (UN) forum since 1945.

(2) Will the Government raise the Kurdish question at any of the UN forums given the right to national self-determination of the Kurds under:

(a) the Charter of the UN (Chapter XI);

(b) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (Article 15, Article 21);

(c) the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples 1960 (Article 1, 2);

(d) the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the UN 1970;

(e) the Helsinki Declaration 1975 (Article VIII);

(f) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1976 (Articles 1); and

(g) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1976 (Article 27).

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

There was correspondence with the honourable senator on the situation of the Kurdish people earlier in the year. As was said at that time, it seems clear that the Kurds, as a minority population in a number of countries, do suffer disciminatory measures. The Government has a good record in responding to clear cases of such discrimination and, in relation to the Kurds, has raised problems brought to its attention both in bilateral contexts and in multilateral human rights fora, most recently at the 41st session of the Commission on Human Rights earlier this year.

As to the issue of a Kurdish right to self-determination, the Australian Government does not consider it is appropriate to view the problems of the Kurds in the context of self-determination as it is understood in the international instruments referred to. The problem is not one of national autonomy but rather, where it occurs, the oppression of members of a minority group who should freely be able to enjoy their cultural and ethnic diversity within the dominant society.

The Government has not hesitated to assist the cause of numerous oppressed ethnic and religious groups. As specific violations are brought to our attention, appropriate action will be considered.