After taking the lead in Friday’s demonstrations, waving Syrian flags emblazoned with the word ‘AZADÎ’ (Kurdish for freedom), Kurds in Syria have taken another bold step. Yesterday the National Movement of Kurdish Parties in Syria threw its political weight behind the mainstream opposition and announced its own initiative to resolve the current crisis in Syria. Twelve Kurdish political party leaders gathered in Qamişlo to make the announcement, demanding ‘concrete steps’ be taken to end the repression and transform the country into a democracy.
The political group, in its first official statement since the uprising in Syria began more than two months ago, has outlined a comprehensive plan for democratic change and fundamental reform at all levels. The plan is an effort to end one-party rule and the monopoly of power, and to build a modern, civil state that would ensure justice and equality of rights and, ultimately, achieve a true partnership of all citizens in the management of affairs of the country.
Syrian authorities announced on Friday plans for a ‘national dialogue’, but Kurdish leaders say that there are essential steps and reforms that need to be implemented before any national dialogue can take place.
Mohammad Ismail, a senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria said that the Kurdish declaration was issued to show that Kurds ‘are a part of the national struggle for freedom in Syria.’ Kurds, the country’s largest ethnic minority, make up some 10% of the country’s population, estimated to be around 22 million.
In making the announcement, the Kurdish National Movement made it clear that it believes that a comprehensive national dialogue is the best solution to end the current turmoil in the country. However, to make the dialogue work reforms need to be in place first.
The declaration called on the government to refrain from the use of violence and allow protesters to freely express themselves, to implement the presidential decree lifting the state of emergency and martial law, and to abolish all special courts and laws. It called for the release of all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners and to allow political movements and parties to publicly pursue their political activities. It asked for the cancellation of all discriminatory policies and decrees applied to the rights of the Kurdish people, the reinstatement of citizenship for the ‘maktoumeem’, and to focus attention on Kurdish areas of the country that have been neglected in the past.
They asked for an inclusive national conference without the dominance of any one party, the first of its functions being the adoption of a new draft constitution that eliminates the privilege to any one party, and includes the recognition of national, political and linguistic pluralism. Most importantly, it would need to offer constitutional recognition of the Kurds and the protection and security of cultural rights of all national minorities and religious groups in the country.
The declaration also recommends the separation of legislative, executive and judiciary powers, and the independence and strengthening of the judiciary as well as media and press freedoms.
Watch videos of the reading of the announcement in Qamişlo yesterday. Mohamed Mousa, the Secretary of Kurdish Left Party, is reading the declaration.