Göttingen, June 17, 2016

Northern Syria: Promising first steps towards peaceful coexistence of all
population groups – STP publishes report on research visit to Kurdish

The people living in the autonomous Kurdish regions – which are frequently
attacked by Islamist terror militias – are in desperate need of humanitarian
assistance from Western Europe to ensure that their “oasis of peace” in
northern Syria will continue to exist. Kamal Sido, Middle East consultant of
the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen, has just returned
from a research visit to northern Syria. He warns: “Without humanitarian aid
for the enclaves – which are almost entirely cut off from the outside world
– the promising first steps towards peaceful coexistence are at risk, and
hundreds of thousands of people from this part of Syria might be forced to
flee to Europe.”

In northern Syria, Sido met with representatives of almost all relevant
political parties and religious communities. He spoke to representatives of
the minority groups, the security forces, to the authorities and to
journalists to get an unbiased impression of the situation. On Friday, the
STP published the interviews in the 80-page report “Rojava – Schutzzone für
religiöse und ethnische Minderheiten in Nordsyrien?”

(in German<https://www.gfbv.de/fileadmin/redaktion/Reporte_Memoranden/2016/Nordsyrien_Reisebericht_compressed.pdf>).

In a discussion with Sido, the Kurdish President of the Canton of Kobani,
Anwar Muslim, said: “Our hopes, our demands, are that the international
community – after helping to fight IS – will also provide help to rebuild
the region.” In Rojava in northern Syria, there is not enough drinking
water, not enough electrical power and not enough medical care. Also, there
are food shortages. Representatives of the Kurdish, Christian, Yazidi and
Arab organizations agree that these problems must be solved quickly to
ensure that the people can stay in the enclaves. Thus, a member of the
Christian Sutoro militia in Al-Hasakeh stated: “We don’t want to live in the
crowded refugee centers in Europe. If the causes of flight are resolved, we
won’t have to come to your country.” According to a representative of an NGO
in Rojava, northern Syria, it would also be necessary to resolve emerging
conflicts between the Kurdish parties and put an end to human rights
violations such as arbitrary arrests of critics.

There are about three million people living in the Kurdish regions between
the rivers Tigris and Euphrates and in Afrin in the extreme northwest of
Syria – plus hundreds of thousands of refugees who belong to different
national and religious minority groups from embattled regions throughout the
country. They live in fear of radical Islamist militias and of the Turkish

In 2012, several Kurdish organizations had declared the region of Rojava
autonomous and – together with their Assyrian Aramaic, Turkmen and Arab
allies – managed to defend the territory against attacks of the Islamic
State (IS). Now, the people living in the “protection zone” want to organize
their lives and are expecting help from the international community. As a
consequence of Assad’s dictatorship, they strongly oppose of an Islamic law
in Syria.

Contact: Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East consultant: +49 (0)173 – 67
33 980.