Hay Alwozarah - Arbil, Mosul Vilayet

Office of the Permanent Representative to the United Nations
box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2 - f: 0114122-7338671

Mohammed Sidik Mahmoud, Adviser

April 2, 1997

Dear Mister Vice-President,

     At the suggestion of a State Department official who prefers to remain anonymous, I am contacting you on my experiences with the Swiss border police and UN officials in Geneva.

     I will never forget the 23 February 1996 when, with a French and a Swiss visum in my Iraqi passport, the French border police at the Geneva airport probably saved my life. BriefIy, this is my story: I am a Kurdish lawyer from Sulaymanyia (Northern Iraq) who served the Iraqi People as Agricultural Minister, Governor and Adviser to President Saddam Hussein. However, when the Assyrians, Kurds and Turkomans rose against Baghdad after Iraq's defeat in 1991, I also believed in President Bush's encouraging words and joined that uprising. And since I have thus become an opposition leader - which seems to be unforgiveable in the eyes of some - nobody could ignore that a visit to Baghdad would now be a death ticket for me.

     In October 1995, the International Committee for European Security and Cooperation (an NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC and UNESCO) appointed me as ICESC Deputy Permanent Representative, in charge of Good Offices in Near Eastern affairs. After some hassle from Swiss authorities, in mid-February 1996, I was finally issued in Cairo Swiss and a French visum providing for NGO work at the UN. But when I arrived at Geneva airport on 23 February, the Swiss police immediately cancelled my visum and detained me, without giving any reason. And when, for obvious reasons, I objected to a check of my Iraqi passport by members of the Iraqi mission, I was told that I am going to be "deported to Baghdad". It was only due to the frantic efforts by my Swiss friends and ICESC's Main Representative in Geneva that, after a chilling five hours detention, I was allowed to exit the airport to France - vive la France!

I have long pondered whether and how I should seek to straighten out this matter with the Swiss authorities. My Swiss visum is still not reinstated. And the ICESC, since that fateful date in February 1996, has in fact been paralyzed by additional sniper fire. All this has not exactly helped the work I am supposed to carry on at the UN. I have thus drafted the statement "Is Geneva Fit to Host the Commission on Human Rights?"   I am bringing this draft paper to your attention as, in the event, a friendly NGO may be found for sponsoring its presentation, e.g. at the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. At any rate, I wish to express my deep gratitude for the help the U.S. authorities have extended to me personally and to the Mosul Vilayet inhabitants I represent, and I am looking forward to enhanced dialogue and opportunities to be also of service to you and to the American people. Meanwhile, I assure you, dear Mister Vice-President, of my highest consideration and remain, sincerely yours,

enclosure: draft statement

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Fifty-third session,
Agenda items 22 & 9:
Follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights;
Improving the Commission's Work

Written Statement [planned to be] submitted by
International Committee for European Security and Cooperation
The Secretary-General has received the following communication, which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1296 (XLIV).

[14 April 1997]

On the need to respect and enforce due process and other human rights at the UN

1.          In her statement to the 53rd session of the Commission on Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, said she wished "to underscore the grave threat to asylum in many areas ... Why do I perceive this threat to asylum? The indicators, unfortunately, are all around us. Access to territory is becoming more and more difficult, as we continue to see outright denial of access, through rejections at the border, and the erection of more subtle barriers, such as legislative restrictions." And while Mrs. Ogata probably did not mean access to Switzerland and to the various UN human rights facilities in Geneva, she certainly could also have spoken for some NGOs involved in bringing victims of human rights abuses to Geneva for testimony before the Commission on Human Rights or before its Special Rapporteurs who, in some cases, are not even allowed into the countries they report about.

2.          Inspired by the World Conference on Human Rights, one NGO program broke new ground. Together with other NGOs, the International Committee for European Security and Cooperation, in 1995, brought some 200 Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds and Turcomans from Iran, Iraq and Turkey to Geneva for first-hand testimony on their economic, cultural and human rights conditions, notably about the way their internationally protected religious minority status as Christians, Alewites, Yezidis, etc. has been respected by their respective governments. Although that tour de force faced numerous obstacles, it caused no major problem and at the Commission it was generally appreciated and contributed to its work. Yet, for reasons which have never been explained, that program, too was suddenly brought to a halt. And while the host government, as a rule, commendably assisted those involved in NGO work, there are notable exeptions which call for an independent investigation and need to be cleared up urgently - not least in the Commission's own interest.

3.          In fact, attempts to muzzle NGO representatives seem to be on the rise. To be sure, the point of order instrument is increasingly being used with imagination by concerned delegations. More discretely, the Commission's present host country can be helpful by not granting a visa, as happened e.g. in the notorious case of a NGO-sponsored Chinese dissident. No less alarming, one early morning during the 52nd session, Swiss police expulsed manu militari a duly accredited NGO representative who also happened to be a member of the FIS parliamentary delegation. Another NGO representative has been denied access to the Palais des Nations - in apparent violation of resolution 1296, thus disrupting that NGO's work. Also with administrative means, one representative who was to testify before the Commission about his related experiences has again been prevented from doing so. And during the 53rd session, representatives were even threatened and physically abused. Symbolizing our resolve to stand against such developments and as a contribution to the improvement of the Commission's work, following is the testimony of a NGO representative who was repeatedly prevented from addressing the Commission:

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Hay Alwozarah - Arbil, Mosul Vilayet

Office of the Permanent Representative to the United Nations
box 2580 - CH 1211 Geneva 2

Mohammed Sidik Mahmoud, Adviser
t+f: 0033-450322842

3 June 1997

Dear Sir,

     Following the recommendation of Dr. Dirk Baumgartner of the German Foreign Ministry, I take pleasure communicating to you my written testimony which, for obscure reasons, I was again prevented from delivering in person to the UN Commission on Human Rights - technically because my visa is still not reinstated, so I cannot enter Switzerland, not even for UN business.

     In light of these and related roadblocks (1), I gladly heed the German Foreign Ministry's advice and call on you for guidance and assistance in order to overcome promptly and effectively whatever administrative obstacle may still stand in my way to Geneva, to my accreditation at the UN Commission on Human Rights and, generally, to my work with the UN organizationsin Geneva. As a duly elected representative of minorities who were granted a special status in international law (E/CN.4/367/Add.1; E/CN.4/Sub.2/1992/NGO/27; E/CN.4/1995/NGO/52), I am grateful to the German and other governments' support for the universal respect of our special rights and I am looking forward to corresponding effective measures from your office as well as to an early opportunity to discuss matters with you in person. Meanwhile, I assure Your Excellency of my highest consideration.

enclosures: draft Written Statements 8/8/96, 4/97;
Auswärtiges Amt/MVC, 15.5.97; MVC/Bundeskanzler, 2.4.97


(1)     The representative of the International Committee for European Security and Cooperation, J.A.Keller, on account of such and similar interferences, has been on strike since 23 February 1996 for what he sees as "inexcusable transgressions" by his government. With his actions, he seeks them to be "repaired and lastingly corrected". Oddly, the Swiss authorities have rejected so far all related efforts, incl. interventions by Swiss Parliamentarians. Yet, they quickly grasped the nuissance value of this political action. Since March 1996, through the UN bureaucracy, they sought to neutralize it by having Mr.Keller physically expulsed from the Palais des Nations, and 4 days before the end of the 52nd session, they obtained his permanent exclusion - including from the UN Library where, for the last 30 years, he did League of Nations, minority protection and other research. Mr.Keller hasn't been charged with any wrong-doing, he had no hearing, and this administrative ukase cannot be appealed - so much for respect of due process and human rights inside the UN. As a result of all this, the ICESC, since February 1996, has not found it appropriate to formally participate in any UN work in Geneva, thus foreclosing also its sponsorship of the enclosed Written Statements on "Oil-for-food" vs Assyrian rights in Iraq, and on my testimony. Perhaps this will warn others who might be tempted to violate human rights in order to protect what they see as superior interests: by forcibly interfering in Mr.Keller's agenda, he found time for other subjects (since May 1996 he advises U.S. lawmakers on the matter of Jewish Nazi victim families' claims against Swiss banks); have Swiss officials thus unwittingly accentuated problems beyond their vision & abilities?

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Hay Alwozarah - Arbil, Mosul Vilayet

Office of the Permanent Representative to the United Nations
box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2 - 079-6047707, -4425088

Mohammed Sidik Mahmoud, Adviser

21.Oktober 1998 (corr.1) SFDRS
                                                                                           Arena, zHv. Herrn Leutenegger
                                                                                           Zürich   e-mail:


Sehr geehrter Herr Leutenegger,

        Derzeit beherrschen Asylgesuche von Flüchtlingen aus dem Balkan (Kosovo) die öffentliche Debatte in der Schweiz.  Andere Aspekte der heutigen Schweizer Flüchtlingspolitik gelangen dabei kaum zur Diskussion, obwohl, wie an unserem Falle illustriert werden könnte, auch sie zur Konsensbildung und bedriedigenden Lösung dieses wachsenden humanitären Problems beitragen könnten.

        Zufolge des seit 1991 aufrechterhaltenen Doppel-Embargos der UNO und Baghdads gibt es zwar auch in Nordirak (Mosul Vilayet) weiterhin eine humanitäre Desasterzone, doch haben es bisher nur wenige unserer assyrischen, kurdischen, turkomanischen und andern Einwohner geschafft, aus dieser Unterdrückungszone auszubrechen und - vorübergehend, als Gäste befreundeter Völker - für sich und ihre Familien eine würdigere Zukunft aufzubauen.  Als Vertreter unserer vielfältig und seit Generationen bedrückten Volksgruppen haben meine Kollegen vom Mosul Vilayet Council und ich versucht, unsere Anliegen bei und via die UNO und deren Menschenrechts-Einrichtungen zu vertreten.  Als Gastland der UNO hat die Schweiz auch eine wichtige Funktion zur Erleichterung der Einreise und des Aufenthalts von Vertretern von bedrohten Völkern.  In unserem Falle gäbe es dazu einiges positives zu berichten; gewisse Aspekte der derzetigen Schweizer Visapolitik ( ) erscheinen aber gleichwohl diskussions- und verbesserungsfähig und -bedürftig.  Dahingehend mag die Teilnahme unseres Generalbevollmächtigten Herrn Keller an Ihrer Arena-Veranstaltung von morgen dienlich sein.

        Mit freundlichen Grüssen

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ANTON KELLER                                                        *   *   *
Postfach 2580  -  1211 Genf 2                                             *   *   *
e-mail:                                                    *   *   *
Natel: 079-6047707

24.Oktober 1998
                                   Herrn Regierungsrat Eberle
                                   Kant. Justiz- und Polizeidepartement
                                   6300 Zug

re:  Schweizer Asylbewerber-Camps in Albanien

Sehr geehrter Herr Regierungsrat,

     Als Vertreter der assyrischen, kurdischen und turkomanischen Völker des Mosul Vilayet (Nordirak) gegenüber der UNO und andern internationalen Organisationen (siehe Beilage) hatte Herr Leutenegger vom Fernsehen DRS mir frendlicherweise Gelegenheit gegeben bei der Aufzeichnung der Sendung "Asylpolitik, wie weiter?" als Beobachter teilzunehmen.

     Am Rande dieser Veranstaltung teilten Sie das Interesse von Herrn Bundesrat Koller zur Entwicklung prophylaktischer Asylmassnahmen.  Auch er empfand diesen Lösungsweg als ideal, aber offenbar als unzugänglich oder noch nicht erkannt (1).  Ich verwies Sie dann, privat, auf meine einschlägigen Sondierungen zur Einrichtung von Schweizer Asylbewerber-Camps in geeigneten Nachbarländern der betreffenden Asylbewerbergruppe und empfahl Ihnen die Einbringung dieser Idee in die laufenden Behördengespräche.   Diese Idee basiert auf der Tatsache, dass unsere einschlägigen völkerrechtlichen Verpflichtungen auch dann sinn- und wortgemäss eingehalten würden, wenn die in die Schweiz eingereisten Asylbewerber in einem geeigneten Nachbarland ihres eigenen Kulturbereichs untergebracht würden.  Dies für die Dauer des Asylprüfungsverfahrens in hinreichend sicheren Camps, welche den humanitären Grundbedürfnissen entsprechen, und zulasten aber nicht in der Schweiz.  Im aktuellen Fall der Flüchtlinge aus Kosovo wäre also die Errichtung von Schweizer
Flüchtlings-Camps in Albanien, Mazedonien und Bosnien zu prüfen.

     Im Zusammenhang mit dem Zustrom von tamilischen Asylbewerbern aus Sri Lanka hatte ich einschlägige Fragen in den Achtzigerjahren in Colombo und den benachbarten Maldiven abzuklären zuhanden von eidgenössischen Parlamentariern (de Chastenay, Hefti, Kaufmann, Oehen, Stucky, u.a.m.).  Obwohl die Resultate durchwegs positiv waren, politisch war die Zeit noch nicht reif für diese Lösung.  Im Rahmen eines generelleren Auftrags jugoslavischer Parlamentarier führte ich 1992 einschlägige Sondierungsgespräche mit Behördenvertretern in Albanien.  Im Bedarfsfall könnte daran angeknüpft werden;
aus einer Reihe von Gründen empfähle es sich aber, bei den anstehenden Gesprächen mit den eidgenössischen Behörden vorderhand nur die Grundsatzfrage aufzuwerfen - ohne Bezug auf diese Vorarbeiten.  Gegebenenfalls anerböte sich die Aufnahme direkter Gespräche mit den albanischen, mazedonischen und/oder bosnischen Behörden im Auftrag Ihres Departements oder der Konferenz der kantonalen Justiz- und Polizeidirektoren.

     Ich danke Ihnen für das meinen Vorschlägen entgegengebrachte Interesse und stehe für weitergehende Fragen gerne zur Verfügung.  Inzwischen verbleibe ich,

mit freundlichen Grüssen

1     Vielleicht mit der Denksportaufgabe vergleichbar, welche ich als Logo adoptiert habe (oben rechts),
wonach man die 9 Sterne mittels 4 geraden Linien verbinden soll, ohne je den Stift vom Papier zu heben.
Sie kann nur dann gelöst werden, wenn man sich getraut, aus den Grenzen auszubrechen, welche -
symptomatisch für viele Alltagsprobleme - durch die 9 Sterne nur vorgegeben scheinen.

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