Published on February 24, 2014
Dr Janroj Keles Conference on Syria in the Context of the Arab Uprisings Feb 12, 2014, London email@example.com
Syrian Regime Syrian National Council (SNC) (Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB)) Kurds Free Syrian Army (FSA) Jihadists
Second largest ethnic group after the Arabs in Syria. Located in the northern and northeast of the country (Jazeere: Qamishlo, AlHasakah; Kubani:Serikaniye;Çiyayê Kurmênc: Afrin) But also in “Kurdish District” in Damascus (renamed as “Rukn al-Din”) and neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud (Aleppo). Estimated number of Kurds: 10-15 percent of the population in Syria, totalling more than 2 million, but have been treated as second-class citizens for generations.
This image shows the superficiality of the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurdistan was divided by British and French colonists in the 1920s. As a result of this, Kurdish families and relatives were separated for decades. As image shows clearly that Kurds from Northern Kurdistan (Turkish Kurdistan) communicate with their relatives in Western Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) through wire mesh fences.
The Syrian constitution defines the „Arab Syrian region‟ as part of the Arab homeland (Article 1.2); the „people‟ of the Arab Syrian region as part of the Arab nation (Article 1.3); Arabic as the official language (Article 4). Kurdish cultural, linguistic, and political rights have been denied throughout the history of modern Syria. The Syrian constitution officially denies the existence of Kurds and their national and cultural rights. Subjected to ethnic discrimination, political prosecution, displaced as part of Syrian government‟s Arabization policies. Discriminatory regulations ban use of the Kurdish language, cultural and the formation of Kurdish civil and political groups. Political and economical marginalisation of Kurdish population
Syrian gov. stripped of the Syrian citizenship from 20 percent of Syria's Kurdish population in 1960 (Jazira census, special population census conducted only for the province of Jazira). The census reflected a political agenda to arabize the Kurdish region, an area rich in natural resources Arbitrary categorisation of Kurds as Ajanib (foreigners, Red ID Card) and Maktoumeen (“unregistered”, White ID Card) 300,000 stateless Kurds without citizenship in Syria (Refugees International) Seizure of Stateless Kurds‟ property, which was seized by the government and used for the re-settlement of Arabs
Article 3 of the Syrian nationality act stipulates that a person is considered legally Syrian if he or she is: “Born inside or outside the Syrian Arab republic of a Syrian father/ mother… parents with anonymous nationality or parents with no nationality…..He has lived in the Syrian Arab republic for five consecutive years” However Kurds categorized as Ajanib and Maktoumeen were not allowed to apply for the Syrian citizenship. They have limited (Ajanib) or no right (Maktoumeen) to have access to education, public health care, employment, ownership of property, establishing their own business, registration of births, death and marriage. No rights to travel or no access to judicial and political systems. They are also not allowed to vote or run for public office. Some of them were repeatedly arrested for “possessing no legal documentation”
Kurds argue that the Syrian uprising began as a Kurdish one in the city of Qamishlo in March 2004 Kurdish Serhildan (Uprising)-Kurdish mass demonstration against the Syrian Regime in Kurdish region as well as Damascus and Aleppo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjnWKr7XneI The Baath Party local office was burned down by Kurdish demonstrators and a statue of Hafez al-Assad was toppled The Syrian army deployed thousands of troops backed by tanks and helicopters, and launched a crack-down. At least 30 Kurds were killed, thousands were arrested. Thousands of Kurds fled to South Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan) Kurdish demonstration in 2005, 2008 and 2011 (Indeed , since 1980s, Kurds have been main opposition in Syria until 2011)
1. 2. Syrian constitution, Article 8 prohibited parties on the ground of ethnicity. However Kurds have formed several “outlaw” parties since 1956. Curently Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD) - Democratic Union Party, the most powerful Syrian Kurdish party. Its leaders are Salih Muslim Muhammad and Asya Abdullah (founded in 2003) Encumena Nîþtîmanî ya Kurdî li Sûriyeyê (ENKS) - Kurdish National Council or KCN (Alliance of several 15 parties) PYD+ENKS=The Kurdish Supreme Committee (Desteya Bilind a Kurd), a governing body of Syrian Kurdistan, established following the signing on 12 July 2012 of a co-operation agreement between the PYD+ENKS in Hewler, South Kurdistan, under the auspice of Mr Masoud Barzani, the President of Kurdistan Region in Iraq.
Kurdish parties: do not demand an independent Kurdish state in Syria seek a peaceful solution for the Syrian Kurdish question have a secular tendency and reject any sort of Islamic oriented state in Syria (separation of state and religion) demand the removal discriminatory, racist and chauvinist practices in Syria demand “self-administration”, “self-government” (Yekiti) or “democratic autonomy” (PYD) of their region which is called as Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) demand the reversal of the policies of the Baath Party‟s Arabisation (Arab Belt) in Kurdish region
Kurdish parties demand the granting citizenship of those Kurds whose Syrian citizenship were stripped 1962 the equality of men and women freedom of assembly and speech multi-political system and free elections the separation of powers
SNC rejects the Kurdish demands for constitutional recognition of Kurdish ethnic identity and their political representation through autonomy or federalism. Kurds distrust SNC due to the influence of Turkey on SNC Kurds consider SNC as “still an Arab nationalist organization with strong tendencies of Arab Islamists” which does not recognize the ethnic and religious plurality of the country‟s population.
Kurdish forces (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel or YPG) have come into conflict with various jihadist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra. However the Kurdish People‟s Protection Units has successfully protect the Kurdish region form the jihadists
Passport of an Egyptian suicide bomber who blew himself in Kurdish populated Efrin city. In his bag, the Kurdish authorities found his document and passport . He received “transit visa” from Turkish consular general in Alexandria and entered Syria from Turkey. http://firatnews.com/gallery/iste-turkiye-den-rojava-ya-gecen-intihar-eylemcileri/isteturkiye-den-rojava-ya-gecen-intihar-eylemcileri-1392205210
Kurds declared autonomous government in Rojava on 12 November 2013 (representatives of more than 50 parties are involved) Three municipal councils (The Cizîre, Kobanê, and Efrîn Cantons of West (Syrian) Kurdistan run the territory‟s affairs. Each canton has its own president and 22 ministries, including foreign affairs, defense, justice and education. Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian representatives are appointed to each ministry. Kurdish, Arabic, and Syriac have been designated as the canton‟s official languages in Cizîre canton.
The Syrian revolution should not be seen as an Islamist/jihadist revolution. It is the revolution of subordinated, non-represented, marginalized people who suffer under an authoritarian system. However Syria has become a battleground of neighbouring countries (Shia/Sunni conflict) and the great powers. The Syrian conflict will not end soon. It is a long term phenomenon. The main Syrian opposition front is unable to acknowledge the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi- religious and multipolitical nature of the country. The militarization of the Syrian political movement has prevented a possible and potential democratic transition The growing threat to ethnic and religious minorities is increasing.
What will be the consequences of a hegemonic domination of Islamic and nationalist oriented post-Assad Syrian government for religious and ethnic minorities? E.g. religious groups (Christians, Yazidi, Alawatis, Shia, Ismailis, Twelve r) and ethnic groups (Kurds, Druzes, Assyrias, Turcoman, Tcherchess, Armenian and Palestinian refugees) Who will protect Alawatis from Islamists after Assad regime? Negotiated solution as a possibility of way out from the war?
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