- Middle East -
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has been advocating for persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East since 1969. When Kurdish villages were bombed with Napalm in 1969, we protested against Germany’s arms deliveries to Baghdad. At that time, most people in Germany hardly knew anything about the Kurds. In 1974, we published the first documentary about the Kurdish freedom movement. In 1976, we called for demonstrations against the Iraqi regime, which had started to torture and execute members of the opposition, Shiites, and Kurds. Despite the fact that a court had announced fines, the STP publicly accused the two Hessian companies Karl Kolb and Pilot Plant of providing the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with poison gas, which was also used in the raids on the Kurdish town Halabja in 1988. In 1990, Alexander Sternberg and Tilman Zülch of the STP managed to film evidence that the German arms producer MBB had violated the arms embargo against Iraq. In 1991, STP board member Irina Wießner organized a relief supply convoy for thousands of Kurdish refugees. The STP also held press conferences in Jerusalem and Bonn to inform about the genocide crimes against the Kurds. Under pressure from the STP, the German federal government and the Church Development Service contributed 50 million Deutschmarks for the reconstruction of 5,000 destroyed Kurdish and Assyrian villages. Thanks to an initiative by the STP, another 300,000 DM from North Rhine-Westphalia were used to build 100 houses in three Kurdish villages. STP board member Maria Sido watched over the reconstruction work on site.
The STP helped many persecuted Mandaeans to find refuge in Germany. We organized international conferences and political discussions to support the Christians, Turkmens, Yazidis, Shabak, Armenians, Kurds, and Feili-Mandaeans. In 2007, we started a campaign to try and protect Iraqi Christians. We distributed memoranda and tens of thousands of leaflets with background information on the desperate situation of the Yazidis. In 2014, we held a vigil at the Brandenburg Gate – organized by STP board member Feryad Omar – to show support for the federal government’s decision to help defend Iraqi Kurdistan against the IS-terrorists.
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Header photo: Jan Sefti via Flickr