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Jeanette Baumann, winner of the 2022-23 HART Prize competition’s Senior Essay category, joined the HART team for a day of work experience last week. While she was with us, we asked her to tell us about her winning entry, and why she wanted to apply for the competition:
In my opinion, the HART Prize is a meaningful opportunity to engage with human rights issues and to advocate for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves, or who are somewhat ‘forgotten’.
I titled my essay ‘From the Frontiers of Empire to Borderlands of (In)Justice’. It looks at the ways in which the legacy of colonialism continues to haunt the relationship between Türkiye, Syria and the Kurdish minority in northwestern Syria. It discusses the need to remember the ‘forgotten’ suffering in the region and to actively re-engage in a peace-building process.
Northwestern Syria is facing a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and human rights crisis, as it is plagued by overlapping conflicts and historical rivalries. The area remains a battleground, with Syria and Türkiye in an unlikely alliance against a common enemy: the Kurdish minority.
The Arab-dominated Syrian government has historically marginalised and discriminated against the Kurdish population, denying them basic rights and suppressing their cultural and linguistic expression. Various allegations have also been made against Türkiye, accusing it of committing numerous human rights violations that may amount to war crimes. These violations include indiscriminate aerial bombardments and support for non-state armed groups in Kurdish areas, which the UN Independent International Investigation Commission found guilty of committing abuses such as torture, hostage-taking and rape. Amnesty International has also concluded that there is compelling evidence of war crimes committed by Türkiye against the Kurdish community in Syria.
In order to understand the challenges facing Syrian Kurds, I believe it is crucial to look at the historical context. Therefore, my analysis delves into the challenges faced by the Kurdish minority in Syria, particularly between the 19th and 20th centuries and the present day. In addition, the essay examines the inadequate response of the international community to the Kurdish question.
By Jeanette Baumann, HART Prize 2022-23 Senior Essay Winner
Read Jeanette’s winning entry here.