Al-Assad reverses 50 years of indignity and ‘grants’ citizenship to Kurds in Syria

In a presidential decree issued today and announced on the official Syrian news agency, SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad granted citizenship to some 300,000 Kurds from the Hasakeh region of the northeast.

In 1962 the Syrian government carried out a special census in the Jazirah region and revoked the citizenship of some 120,000 Kurds who could not prove that they had been resident in the country since 1945. Today, an estimated 225,000 Kurds in Syria are classified as non-citizen foreigners (ajanib) on their identity cards and cannot vote, own property, or obtain government jobs (but are not, however, exempt from obligatory military service). In addition, some 75,000 Kurds are not officially acknowledged at all and have no identity cards. The so-called maktoumeen (unregistered) cannot even receive treatment in state hospitals or obtain marriage certificates.

These ‘foreigners’ and their descendents, who have been denied citizenship and basic human rights for 50 years, will now become Syrian citizens. Last week al-Assad had announced the formation of a committee to look into the issue of citizenship for this group.

Kurdish leader Habib Ibrahim said that Syria’s Kurds would continue a non-violent struggle for civic rights and democracy in spite of the decree. ‘Our cause is democracy for the whole of Syria. Citizenship is the right of every Syrian. It is not a favour. It is not the right of anyone to grant,’ he said.


8 thoughts on “Al-Assad reverses 50 years of indignity and ‘grants’ citizenship to Kurds in Syria

  1. thats good news – i feel like i was a little part of that issue, as i took part in demonstration against Asad in london. Step by step we will win completly – i am sure

  2. Not even worth mentioning. “Granting” citizenship to the Kurds is a right not a privilege. These cosmetic changes hardly please the Kurds who are living a life full of mental and physical torture and abuse.

  3. Not even worth mentioning?? This has been a long-time demand from the Kurds in Syria. No, it is not enough and it’s certainly not going to alleviate the much larger problem of Kurdish rights there…of which there are none. But to say it’s not worthy of mention is to dismiss the very idea that this group of stateless Kurds should have citizenship.

  4. You certainly didn’t get my point. Yes this has been a huge problem for so long and surely this is an appeasing news, but not even close to say; as some folks put it “Problem Solved”. Put into consideration that they have been granted “Arab” Syrian citizenship, which means that their very identity, along with everything related to it, is still not recognized constitutionally and only when it is, I will say something has been done.

  5. There is a huge difference between saying ‘something has been done’ and ‘not worth mentioning.’ Again, I say this is worth mentioning, but agree with you that it is premature to say ‘something has been done’ to solve anything. For those who say ‘problem solved’, they are delusional.

  6. I haven’t said “something has been done”. I said when their identity, plus their culture, history and every other right that human beings must have, are granted and are written in the country’s constitution, then I say something has been done. Still, this is a positive point, which is the most basic right that anybody should have. Hopefully this is the beginning of better things to come.

  7. my point of view is to look at that issue from the opposite side – for Kurds its seems both nothing and something, but look at that from syriani goverment side: for them it must have been hard to make even a very little step towards Kurds, if we remember how much Asad wants to destroy kurdish nation. But we demand – and now they respnd to our demands – maybe respond in a very little scale, maybe their arab citizenship doesnt have any value for Kurds – but they did something, so i think it should encourage our people to keep demanding – untill we will get what we really want. we can do that. and we have to do that.

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