The Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria – UK Branch has created a list of organisations and individuals who receive our reports and calls. We want to open hearts and minds to the dangerous situation for Kurds in Syria. We believe that there is a creeping genocide, a planned programme that will lead to the ethnic cleansing of Kurds from our homelands and we ask for your help to stop this happening. This is our cry.
We see the international community positioning itself to take advantage of the possibility that Syria can bring some solution to the Middle East tensions, and we are told that human rights abuses are on every agenda, but we know that this is not enough. The Syrian authorities have no intention of making our lives any easier and the events of the past year confirm that he situation is actually becoming worse for Kurds in Syria.
There are more than 3 million Kurds in Syria, of whom 400,000 are stateless. The situation for Kurds in Syria is deteriorating whilst the international community is opening its doors to the Syria Government.
In our attempts to open hearts and minds we have sent out reports and calls for action as follows:
Creating suspicion about Kurds
In January 2008 we learned of the Syrian Arab Republic directive that was sent at the end of 2007 to Army officers to discredit Kurds serving in the army, and to raise suspicions amongst Syrians that Kurds were working with Israeli intelligence services and would betray Syria. This came at the same time as the Israeli attack on Syria.
We called upon all people to work with us to expose this situation, to pressurise the Syrian Government to stop acting against Kurdish people, and to recognise and uphold the rights of Kurdish people in Syria.
Disregard for Kurdish life, by the authorities
On 9 March 2008 we sent out a report regarding the death of Idris Mohmood Moussa in the hands of the Syrian authorities. We were worried that this may be the resurgence of criminal activity, similar to what happened after the uprising in Qamishli in 2004. Kurdish people in the army at that time disappeared unexpectedly, and their bodies were found showing marks of torture.
We denounced these acts of inhumanity committed by the Syrian regime towards the Kurdish nation. We invited others to stand with us in our efforts to stop this degrading persecution and killing of our people, and to bring those who commit such crimes to justice.
Syria Embassy staff in UK recording Kurds demonstrating in London
On 12 March 2008, we sent out a report commemorating the killing of Kurds by the authorities in Qamishli four years before, and stood with others outside the Syrian Embassy in London. We circulated proof that the Syrian Embassy is recording these events.
Arbitrary killing of Kurds in the street at Newroz celebration in Qamishli
Kurds celebrating Newroz in the streets of Qamishli on 20 March 2008 were fired on by Syrian authorities and three were shot dead. We sent out information to media contacts and human rights activists about the events as they were unfolding.
Call for investigation into killing of Sheikh Muhamed Muschuk al-Khznawi
We sent out a call on 30 March 2008, on the third anniversary of the assassination of the martyr Sheikh Muhamed Maschuk al-Khznawi, a well-known Kurd. We called for relevant people to force the Syrian regime to ensure that there is an investigation into the circumstances of this heinous crime and to prevent this from ever happening again to unarmed Kurds and human rights activists.
Kurds described as immigrants and enemies of the State
Our report of 8 June 2008 contained information that Jihad Khaddam, the son of a previous Deputy President of Syria, declared that anyone who uses the term ‘Kurdistan of Syria’ is the enemy of the fatherland, and that this is a crime. He also said that Kurds in Syria are immigrants.
Europe opens its doors to Syrian Government but no change in the situation for Kurds
On 12 July 2008, we wrote together with eleven other organisations as ‘The Committee of Joint Action of Kurds in Syria’ to President Nicholas Sarkozy, at the time of the meeting of the Union of the Mediterranean. Syria was present at this meeting. We outlined some of the human rights abuses that give rise to our concerns and appealed to President Sarkozy to intervene and apply pressure to the regime in Syria to take steps to achieve democracy through:
· Finding a just and democratic solution to the Kurdish issue in Syria, in recognition of the fact that Kurdish people are constitutionally the second largest nation in Syria, and they live in their historic land;
· Lifting the State of Emergency and martial law that has been applied in our country since 1963;
· Giving an amnesty to those in the country’s prisons, allowing the release of all detainees who have been imprisoned for their opinion, and conducting an impartial investigation into the crimes that are still being committed against the Kurds and Arabs in Sednaya prison, that have become known to the whole world. This would pave the way for genuine democratic reform guaranteeing freedom of expression to citizens;
· Separate the three authorities, thereby restoring the independence of the judiciary and freedom of the media;
· Remove the discriminatory and racist special laws against our Kurdish people;
· Restoring Syrian nationality to those people, their children and their grandchildren who have been stripped of their rights, and pay compensation to them;
· Cancellation of the Arab belt project, and returning land to its original Kurdish owners, and paying compensation to them;
· Ending the policy of Arabization, and removing its effects to date;
· Recognising the Kurdish language as the official language in Kurdish areas;
· Allowing the Kurdish people to exercise their Kurdish national legitimate rights
Killings in Sednaya Prison:
We sent out a report on 9 July 2009 following the killing of prisoners in Sednaya prison in Damascus to alert our contacts of this atrocity.
Kurdish political detainee – Mohammed Moussa
Along with four other Kurdish organisations we sent out a call on 23 July 2008 for action regarding the disappearance of Mohammed Moussa.
We called on all democratic Governments and active Humanitarian Organizations, especially in Europe to work practically to defend the activists who are fighting for freedom and democracy, and to prevent the Syrian regime from further repression and the confiscation of liberties. We called for the Syrian government to respect the Constitution, Treaties and International Conventions which it has signed and for the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees in its prisons. We called on the Syrian Government to desist from the practise of arbitrary detention of political opponents, and civil society and human rights activists.
Kurdish political detainee – Mashaal al-Tamo:
On 23 August 2008, we notified our contacts of the arrest and disappearance of Mr. Mashaal Nehayet al-Tamo from Qamishli. He is one of the Kurdish opposition leaders against the Syrian regime, and is the head and spokesman of the Kurdish Current Future Movement in Syria. He is a representative of his Party at the Kurdish Co-ordinating Committee along with two other Parties – the Yekiti and Azaadi Parties – and he is also a representative on the Revitalizing Civil Society Committees. We suspected that the Syrian authorities were holding him.
We appealed to the United Nations, human rights organizations and humanitarian groups including democratic Western governments to put pressure on the Syrian government to stop such actions and to halt the persecution of Kurds.
Expression of thanks:
On 26 August 2008, we sent out a message thanking all human rights and humanitarian organizations both inside and outside of Syria, particularly Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and all political parties, and national and political figures for their supportive activities.
Mr. Mashaal Nehayet al-Tamo had been seen in the custody of the Syrian authorities. We appealed to all to continue to exercise pressure on the Syrian government until they released all political detainees.
Decree 49 progresses ethnic cleansing of Kurds
On 10 September 2008 we wrote with great concern about the introduction of Decree 49, and the anticipated disastrous effects. The aim of this decree is to progress ethnic cleansing and genocide by changing the demography for a people who are native to the area. Kurdish people are victims of this regime, which is pursuing a strategy that has the objective of driving the Kurds from their homelands using the law, security forces and intelligence services.
We continue to appeal to people and organisations inside and outside Syria to raise their voices for the abolition of all discriminatory policies and racist projects that burden our Kurdish people, and for the right to live our lives like others do free of injustice and oppression.
Campaign of further arrests and deterioration for Kurds:
We wrote on 14 September 2008 to the British Parliament, European Parliament, Human Rights organisations and individuals to advise them of our concern at the increase in the campaign of arrests of Kurds by the Syrian authorities. This campaign of arresting people from the Kurdish opposition has increased since Syria has been invited into international talks, for example Turkey involved Syria in dialogue with Israel; discussions with Syria were opened by Europe through the Union of the Mediterranean, and there have been talks between Syria and the French President.
We consider that the Syrian Government feels able to commit human rights abuses without concern for repercussions because now it has relationships with the international community, and it is using this position to target the Kurdish opposition.
We asked the international community to support Kurdish people by:
· denouncing the Syrian Government for their human rights abuses;
· to lift the immunity from criticism that they seem to have acquired; and
· to make it a condition of any dialogue with the Syrian Government that Kurdish rights be legitimised within the Syrian Constitution.
46 years of stateless Kurds in Syria, and no improvement:
On 2 October 2008 we along with five other parties sent a call to International organisations and democratic governments, and Human Rights organizations and individuals regarding 46 years of Stateless Kurds in Syria which began in order to change the demography of al-Jazeera in north-eastern Syria, and isolate it from the Kurdish areas in Turkey and Iraq. The Syrian government implemented the two projects in al-Jazeera of an exceptional census 1962, and the creation of the Arab Belt between 1966 until 1973.
The continuation of this humanitarian tragedy is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is morally and ethically binding on all signatory nations of the world. This Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives a mandate to the international community to use the means necessary to ensure that this convention is adhered to by all of these States in order to support the basic building of a democratic community and the freedom of all people.
It is now 46 years since the start of this racist project and so we appealed to all international bodies, humanitarian organizations and democratic governments to intervene rapidly to pressurise the Syrian regime to put an end to the suffering of this sizeable number of Kurdish people. The Syrian Government needs to be forced to respect its commitments to recognising the citizenship of the stateless Kurds, and to compensate them for their material and psychological losses. The pressure needs to continue until there has been an apology and until this racism and other discriminatory policies against the Kurdish people in Syria have been abolished.
Kurds arrested demonstrating against Decree 49:
There was a demonstration against Decree 49 on 2 November 2008. Kurds taking part were arrested in great numbers. We sent out information during the day to alert international organisations to what was happening.
Appeals to European Parliament and European Commission:
On 27 November 2008, we were one of a group of Parties that sent letters as the Representation Committee of Kurdish Parties in Syria – Europe Organisation to Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of European Parliament and to José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission to bring our concerns about our people in Syria to their attention and to make a plea for European help with our situation.
We see how Europe has begun to open its doors to the Syrian Government and to offer the hand of friendship to our oppressors. We called on the Governments of Europe to take the opportunities these communications offer to encourage and pressurise the Syrian Government to improve its behaviour towards Kurds, and to begin by revoking this Decree. We asked them to prioritise our rights in any negotiations that are held with the Syrian Government.
We informed them that in the Kurdish area of Syria there was a drought in the agricultural land, and that we have received no support from the Syrian Government in these difficult conditions. We asked for help from the international community because we are facing real poverty.
Celebration of the life of Mr Mohammed Nazir Mustafa:
We sent out a report celebrating the life and Kurdiety of Mr. Mohammed Nazir Mustafa, the General Secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party al-Party who passed away on Monday 22 December 2008. He spent eight very difficult years in prison from 1973, for his opposition to the Arabisation of our Kurdish area, and went on to take positions of leadership in his Party.
Further arrests of Kurds in Syria:
On 18 January 2009 we sent out a report about further arrests of Kurds in Syria. We are very concerned that the Deputy Foreign Minister, Abdul Fatah Amora in Syria met with the Ambassors from the Embassies of UK, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Slovakia, Switzerland and with the Ambassador of the European Commission on 15 January 2008. His government will indefinitely refuse to accept any negotiations regarding discussion of human rights in Syria. He said that because of the events in Gaza and attacks by Israel, he was no longer going to listen to criticism of his Government regarding human rights abuses. This co-incides with the invitation by the French Government that brought the Syrian Government into discussions with European countries. It also co-incides with the introduction in Syria of ‘Decree 49’, a law that restricts Kurds and denies them of their rights to move. These are further steps towards the ethnic cleansing of Kurds from Syria.
A series of Killings of Kurds in Syria:
On 25 January 2009 we sent out a report that went round the world on the internet giving details of a series of killing of Kurds in Syria. We wrote this report in the hope that the world would take note of the need for action to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Kurds in Syria. The Syrian Government has taken advantage of the world’s attention being focused on other issues to increase its oppression of its indigenous Kurds. We see that Syria is ready to sign economic agreements with European countries, and that these countries see Syria as being essential to the solution for the Middle East. At the same time, Europe is opening the door to Syria because this is to its political and economic advantage, while Kurds live in poverty and despair. Against this background the Governments of Iran, Turkey and Syria continue to work together to ensure that Kurds accept the nationality of their respective countries as second class citizens at best, or to drive them out.
The Syrian authorities have reported that Kurdish conscripts have committed suicide. It is believed that these people have been killed for their political activity. Others have died under similar circumstances. Kurdish soldiers have become very afraid that this may happen to them. We asked that Governments in Europe and USA investigate these deaths, and that organisations such as the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International continue to show an interest in the plight of Kurds in Syria.
We believe that the Syrian Government considers that it has opened the door to discussions with the rest of the world, and that it can continue its programme of ethnic cleansing of Kurds from its borders without any penalties. We implored those with authority and responsibility to put human rights of Kurds at the forefront of any discussions. Our fear is that our well-being will be sacrificed on behalf of economic advantage and politically comfortable solutions, and that this will allow the Syrian Government to continue its oppression and eradication of any Kurdish movement in Syria.
We are concerned that this will lead to mass migration of Kurds from their ancient homelands into the cities, or into other countries where they flee for asylum.
People managed to escape illegally because they had no legal route out of Syria, but they then face being returned by countries in Europe, for example 7,000 Kurds are being considered for return by the German Government in agreement between the Syrian Government’s Interior Minister, Bassam Abdul-Majid and Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble.
On return these people will suffer the same fate as others who have already been arrested. They are seen as betrayers of the country. Many Kurds already live in the slums around Damascus because they have been driven out of their homes by Decree 49 and the subsequent lack of work, and by the Arabisation of their ancient homelands. Others have left Syria already to work in domestic service in Lebanon and Jordan, and many have tried to seek asylum in Europe.
Abuse of non-violent Kurdish activists is widespread. Kurds in Syria need the support of the outside world, and our worry is that the outside world will ignore us because it is concerned with money and politics. We believe that genocide is coming.
Further demonstrations against Decree 49:
We sent out information that on 28 February 2009 at 11am, Kurds came out onto the streets of al-Jazeera in the Kurdish region of Syria to hold a silent ten minute demonstration in the street, to protest about the legislation Decree 49 that further removes our basic human rights, and twenty-six people were arrested. We asked the Governments in European countries to recognise that Kurds in Syria are denied their basic rights. It is not enough to merely mention the human rights abuses in discussions with Syria because that changes nothing. We request that you require the Syrian Government to demonstrate real change before further opening the doors of Europe.
Annual protest on the 5th anniversary of the killing of Kurds in Qamishli:
On 12 March 2009 we stood with others outside the Syrian Embassy in London, UK in protest about the killings of five years ago in Qamishli and the deteriorating situation of human rights abuses that continue against Kurds in Syria.
Syrian Government attempts to intimidate Kurds to stop Newroz celebrations:
The most recent report gives details of the activities of the Syrian government to undermine our celebrations of Newroz. Students who were arrested at this time have been expelled from university. Sadly some of the leaders of Kurdish parties obliged the authorities by advising their members to stay at home, but others celebrated with flags, music, dancing, theatre and hope for the future.
We were also very pleased to welcome a delegation from the Embassies of Britain, America, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland, and of the United Nations who visited our Kurdish Newroz celebrations. We were reassured by the presence of this delegation, and we hope they will develop their interest in our human rights during the coming year.
Continuing arrests and intimidation:
One of the leaders from the Political Committee of the Yekiti Party, Suleman Oso was arrested on 20 March 2009, along with other leaders and students as a part of this campaign by the Syrian authorities to intimidate us into stopping our celebrations..
Teachers are being relocated from their schools in the Kurdish areas to other schools miles away. They cannot move house and so life for teachers is becoming increasingly difficult.
Stateless Kurds continue to live like ghosts in their own country, generations growing up to live without status papers, basic rights, education or hope, persecuted in their own land.
Kurds are denied the opportunity to hold significant positions in Government departments. Those who deny their Kurdiety and acquiesce to the Government’s Arabisation policies are shown favour, and are held up as examples of how Kurds are allowed to participate in the system. This is not participation.
The State of Emergency is used to exert control. Kurdish political parties are illegal in Syria. Our leaders, members and supporters and their families in Syria risk harassment, persecution and punishment. The law is used to try to silence us. We will not be silenced.
The Syrian Government is working with other governments in the region to deny Kurds their right to self-determination.
The Syrian Government is being welcomed back into the international arena but we know that at the same time our situation is deteriorating.
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office report
We have been in contact with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office throughout the year, and we would like to extend our thanks to the staff there for identifying their concerns about the continuing human rights abuses and the deteriorating situation for Kurds in Syria, in their report that was released in March 2009.
Statelessness, denial of educational opportunities, enforced poverty – Kurds are experiencing ethnic cleansing as a result of a deliberate and on-going strategy by the Syrian Government. This is evidenced in our reports during the year which demonstrate the ways in which the Government denies our existence whilst at the same time it denounces and demonises Kurds.
Arbitrary arrests, intimidation, murder – the political system seeks to drown our voice, to stifle our spirit, to bury our hopes of a country that treats all its population with respect.
We will not be silenced; we will continue to work with organisations and individuals to bring about change for Kurds in Syria.
Committee of Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria – UK Branch
Email: [email protected]