Thursday, June 16, 2011

Syria’s Kurds want Assad out, says Kurdish leader

Erbil, June 16 (AKnews) – As the anti-government protest gain momentum, Syria's Kurds are now calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down says a prominent Kurdish party chief – a change from their previous demand of political reforms.


Kurdish Democratic Union (KDU) leader Salih Muslim said that Syria's Kurds have been calling for political and cultural rights over the past four decades – but now it's time for Assad to go.

"The demonstrations and protests in Syria continue and the demands of Kurds have gone higher as they are now calling on the Baath to leave so that the Kurds alongside the Arabs like two nations can coexist in Syria and the rights of Kurds be secured," he said.

Since March 15, nation-wide protests against the 40-year Baathist rule in Syria have continued despite a bloody crackdown by the Syrian authorities.

International human rights groups say that more than 1,300 people have been killed to date, and over 10,000 arbitrarily arrested.

Under the Baath party rule, hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds were stripped of their Syrian citizenship.

Against the backdrop of the snowballing public protests against his regime, the Syrian President recently pledged to re-issue Syrian nationality documents for around 300,000 of the country's Kurds.

Observers believe that Assad's promise was to deter the country's two to three million Kurds from adding fuel to the uprising.

Muslim told AKnews that the current regime in Syria had to change; the Kurds must be given their identity documents, be allowed to join the political process and be accorded a voice in reforming the constitution.

The Baath party has unilaterally ruled Syria for four decades during which time any form of political opposition has been outlawed.

The Kurds have been one of the fiercest opponents of the Syrian regime since the Baath Party took power nearly half a century ago. Headed by Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez, in 1963, the Baathists imposed an emergency law that effectively suspended most constitutional protection for citizens.

 "Even abroad, apart from the members of the Kurdish parties, there is nobody to identify themselves as opposition except for some intellectuals and writers who defy the Syrian regime through their writings," Muslim said.

After "the fall" of the Syrian regime, the Kurds must participate in the country's political process from the presidency to the provincial councils, the Kurdish politician continued, "And they need to have their own Kurdish identity and live in a Kurdish region."

There are no accurate statistics on the numbers of Kurds in Syria, but unofficial figures suggest there are between two and three million, accounting for 10-17% of the country's population.

Written BY Raber Y. Aziz, reported by Karzan Karim, edited by Karl Allen (AKnews)

16/06/2011 11:00