Türkische Kurden empört über Syrien |
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Fūad Sīpan ( Fuat Akpinar )
Türkische Kurden empört über Syrien
Protestmarsch entlang der Grenze
it. Istanbul, 15. März
Die blutigen Ausschreitungen zwischen Arabern und Kurden im Nordosten Syriens haben die Bevölkerung der südosttürkischen Stadt Nüsaybin in Mitleidenschaft gezogen. Zwischen Nüsaybin und der syrischen Stadt Kamishli, in der am Freitag die Unruhen ausgebrochen waren, verläuft die Grenze zwischen Syrien und der Türkei. Die beiden Ortschaften werden lediglich von einem Stacheldrahtzaun getrennt. Mitglieder derselben Grossfamilien leben in der Regel auf beiden Seiten der Grenze. Am Freitag, dem ersten Tag der Ausschreitungen in Kamishli, hätten die syrischen Behörden den Grenzübergang bei Nüsaybin geschlossen, sagt im Gespräch der stellvertretende Bürgermeister der Stadt. Die Telefonleitungen seien gekappt worden, und damit sei auch der Kontakt zwischen den Familien unterbrochen worden. Am Samstag hätten die Einwohner Nüsaybins mit ansehen müssen, wie syrische Kurden die Opfer vom Freitag in kurdische Fahnen gehüllt durch die Strassen von Kamishli getragen hätten und wie kurz danach Rauch aus den Gebäuden einige Meter südlich des Stacheldrahtzauns gestiegen sei. Geräusche von Panzern und Kampfhelikoptern seien den ganzen Samstag über zu vernehmen gewesen, sagten Augenzeugen in Nüsaybin. Am Samstag sollen 52 Personen ums Leben gekommen sein.
Die prokurdische Partei der Türkei, Dehap, sprach von einem «Massaker an Kurden». An einem Protestmarsch entlang des Stacheldrahtzauns bei Nüsaybin nahmen einige tausend türkische Kurden teil. Am Montag wurde der Grenzübergang bei Nüsaybin wieder geöffnet. Wie die wenigen Händler, die aus Syrien in die Türkei zurückkehrten, sagten, ist im gesamten Gebiet die Ausgangssperre noch immer in Kraft. Die Unruhen waren am Freitag während eines Fussballspiels zwischen einer arabischen und einer kurdischen Mannschaft ausgebrochen, nahmen aber rasch die Konturen eines ethnischen Konflikts an. Die Intensität der Ausschreitungen ist Ausdruck der Frustration der kurdischen Minderheit, die seit Jahrzehnten in Syrien wirtschaftlich und kulturell diskriminiert ist. Die Entschlossenheit, mit der die Sicherheitskräfte die Unruhen unterdrückt haben, zeigt zudem, dass Syrien seinen Kurden misstraut und in ihnen ein Instrument fremder Kräfte zur Destabilisierung des Landes sieht. Die syrischen Sicherheitskräfte sollen die Lage wieder unter ihrer Kontrolle haben.
The Washington Times 16.03.2004
Rights for the Kurds
A perfect opportunity has arisen for President Bush to prove to the people of the Middle East that his policy in their region is about democratization and reform and not about pure economic or political interest.
Over the past week, a wave of rallies swept the Kurdish areas of Syria and Iran in support of their fellow Kurds in Iraq, who have finally received the recognition for which they have been fighting for almost 80 years with the signing of Iraq's interim constitution.
Typicalofautocratic regimes, the authorities in bothcountriesviolently quelled the _expression of support for the democratic rights earned next door in Iraq. As a result, dozens were killed, and many more injured at the hands of Iranian and Syrian security forces.
The Kurds in Syria, Iran and in Turkey are perhaps the most repressed and discriminated-against populations in the Middle East. In Turkey, even their identity as Kurds is still denied; they are called Mountain Turks. In Syria, they are denied all civil and political rights. Almost 200,000 are denied citizenship outright. They cannot vote, own property, go to state schools or get government jobs. Kurds in Iran live in similar repressive situations.
In all three countries, public services, education and health care in Kurdish areas are purposefully underdeveloped. Even the most casual traveler in the Kurdish regions of these countries cannot help but notice that the difference between these areas and the non-Kurdish ones is like the difference between the white and black areas of old South Africa.
To the Syrian and Iranian regimes, recognition of minority rights and individual freedoms is a threatening and alien concept. The Syrian state broadcasting said that the demonstrations damaged "the stability and security of the homeland and the citizen" and that they were the fault of "some intriguers," who had adopted "exported ideas."
But to the people who live under these regimes, these demonstrations are not about destabilization or even separation. They are about asserting the right to live in dignity and as equal citizens in their country.
Following the demonstrations, I received a desperate e-mail from the Kurdish city of Qamishly, Syria, where one of the major demonstrations took place and Syrian police had killed 19. Written in coded language, the e-mail starts: "I can't tell you much; I will be imprisoned or killed." The message then begged me to tell the world what happened in his city.
Back in November, the same person sent an almost euphoric e-mail describing his feeling when he heard Mr. Bush in London saying, "We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East ? [We] have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability."
The writer considered this statement a major shift in U.S. policy in the Middle East and an open commitment to stop tolerating oppression like that in his country and start supporting democratic change.
A Kurd from Turkey picked up on and praised another point in the same speech: "We cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient ? our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found."
With these words, Mr. Bush gave great hope to the Kurds of the Middle East, and they are waiting for him to oppose the tyranny just displayed this past week.
In fact, in one of the demonstrations in Syria this past week, a banner carried by the demonstrators read: "With our lives, with our souls, we sacrifice for you O Bush" — the slogan that people in Syria normally chant for President(s) Asad.
Many Kurds today consider these demonstrations as the real test for the words of Mr. Bush. They are waiting for the United States to condemn the Syrian and Iranian response and to voice support for the right of the Kurdish people to express their opinion in peaceable demonstrations.
When the war last spring geared, and an alliance was struck between the coalition and the Kurdish peshmerga forces, skeptics said that the United States is not after the interest of the Iraqi people, but only serving its own interests. "Since when was the U.S. supportive of democracy in the Middle East?" said an Arab intellectual on one of the Arab Satellite television channels just before the war.
Apart from recent history, when the safe haven was established in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Kurds have had a bitter experience with the United States. Thousands have died over several previous decades when the United States failed to deliver on promised support.
These recent demonstrations should be neither feared nor dismissed. The people of the Middle East both want and are willing to fight for democracy in their countries. The U.S. government must express their support for Kurdish rights in the autocratic countries in which they live to prove to all that there is a sincere change of policy.
As Mr. Bush said in November, "Our part, as free nations, is to ally ourselves with reform, wherever it occurs."
Hiwa Osman is a Baghdad-based journalist.
Bahrain Tribune 16.03.2004
Tension persists in northeastern Syria after
QAMISHLI, Syria: Armed Syrian police stood guard yesterday on main streets in this northeastern town, where most shops were closed and the atmosphere remained tense after deadly weekend rioting sparked by a soccer squabble but fuelled by old ethnic divisions and new political realities.
While the two main towns in the tense northeast – Qamishli and Hasakah – were generally calm yesterday, there were reports of more violence elsewhere. In other parts of the region bordering Turkey and Iraq, residents looking at burned vehicles and gutted shops feared it would flare again.
Gunmen broke into the house of a local official in the Syrian town of Ayn Al Arab late on Sunday, shooting his son, according to police officials in Qamishli who spoke on condition of anonymity. Rioters also set fire to a government civil registry office in the town, which is 200 kilometres southwest of Qamishli.
Turkey’s Anatolia news agency, reporting from the Turkish border town of Suruc, said Kurds in Ayn Al Arab also attempted to raid a local prison and free prisoners, but were unsuccessful. A “few people” were killed in clashes between the kurds and soldiers, the agency quoted “local sources” in Ayn Al Arab as saying.
The disturbances began on Friday in Qamishli, 775 kilometres from Damascus, with clashes between supporters of Al Jihad and Al Futuwa soccer teams shortly before their Syrian championship match was to begin in the city stadium.
The next day, hundreds of Kurds went on the rampage, vandalising shops and state offices in Qamishli and Hasakah.
There was no official death toll from Syria’s worst trouble in many years. At least 15 people were killed and more than 100 wounded, according to Kurdish officials and hospitals in the area. Eleven of the dead were Kurds and the rest Arab. One Turkish media report said up to 49 people have died. About 250 Kurds were reportedly rounded up by security forces.
Yesterday, smoke was still rising from smoldering animal fodder barns that were set on fire during the rioting in Qamishli. Riot police armed with automatic rifles patrolled the main streets of the town, where many shops remained closed.
A Customs office and a railway station were destroyed by fire. Cars outside the government buildings were damaged, overturned or gutted. Rioters also broke chairs and desks at the Arabistan School.
“Kurds are to blame for what has happened,” said an Arab in the town who did not wish to give his name. “They are trying to politicise the issue to serve their own interests.”
A ranking official in Qamishli also charged that some Kurdish parties were collaborating with “foreign forces” to annex some villages in the area to northern Iraq. The official insisted that his name and position not be disclosed.
Since the outbreak of violence, Kurdish officials have accused Arabs of attacking Kurdish property.
In Hasakah, 707 kilometres from Damascus and 80 kilometers south of Qamishli, life was returning to normal and shops have reopened. But, underscoring the tense atmosphere, schools remained closed. – AP