Public meeting

Tuesday, 18 May, 7pm

End the repression of Kurds in Syria

Hosted by Lord Rea
Committee Room 4
House of Lords, Westminster
(nearest station: Westminster)


Speakers include
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Moustafa Rechid, Kurdish writer from Syria and Vice-President Kurdish PEN
Kerim Yildiz
Director Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP)
Aziz Othman
Kurdish Cultural Association  of Syria
Ghaleb Semo and Bachar Al Issa
representatives of the Syrian Kurdish community in France
Richard McKane
Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN
Hywel Williams MP
Hugo Charlton Chair of the Green Party

Amnesty International
invited

The campaign of the Kurds in Syria for their political, social and cultural rights forms part of the ongoing struggle of the Kurds in all four parts of Kurdistan for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question which must be at the heart of a just settlement for all the peoples of the Middle East. Only justice can bring about reconciliation.


The meeting is supported by Liberation and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
For information call 020 7586 5892 or 020 7250 1315
e-mail: knklondon@gn.apc.org

BACKGROUND NOTES
In March the position of the Kurds living in Syria was abruptly brought to the attention of the world with the eruption of violent clashes at a football match in the Syrian town of Qamishli between rival Kurdish and Arab fans. About 100 Kurds were left dead, including three children, as Syrian state security forces reportedly fired into the crowds leading to a panic. It was but the latest incident in a long history of denial and oppression endured by Kurdish people in southwest Kurdistan (Syria).

The deaths sparked further clashes between Kurds and security forces in Qamishli, Aleppo, al-Hassaka in the North and the capital Damascus. About 2,000 men and youths, some of them as young as 14 years old, were said to have been rounded up and arrested from their homes. Political leaders continue to be harassed and detained.

According to estimates there are about 2 million Kurds living in Syria mostly in the Jazira area in the North East of the country. Some 150,000 have been denied Syrian nationality for decades rendering them effectively stateless. Over the years there have been a series of clashes between the authorities in Damascus and the Kurds against the backdrop of continuing failure to grant the Kurds civil rights and equal status with the country's majority Arab population:

In March 1986 during Newroz celebrations, clashes left several deaths and injured;

In October 1992 Kurds marked the 30th anniversary of the census which deprived many Kurds of their Syrian nationality and basic civil rights. In response, the security forces carried out mass arrests;

In 1995 the authorities banned the traditional Newroz celebrations and dozens of Kurds were arrested.

So far the hopes for reform that marked the coming to power of Bashir Al-Assad have not been fulfilled and there has been little noticable change for the country's wider population as well as the Kurds. However, in the aftermath of the war on Syria's neighbour Iraq, the unresolved question of the Kurds in the Middle East has been placed higher on the political agenda and is likely to exert an impact on the countries of the region in far reaching ways for some time to come.