Thousands of Syrian Kurds put up a show of
unity in Qamishlo in Syrian Kurdistan
August 6, 2012
A nighttimes street party for Kurdish unity in
Qamishlo city in Syrian Kurdistan. Photo: Rozh
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QAMISHLI, Syrian Kurdistan, — Tens of
thousands of Kurds took to the streets in Qamishlo,
Syria’s largest Kurdish city in Western Kurdistan,
demanding their rights once the regime of President
Bashar al-Assad is ousted.
They also expressed jubilation over the recent unity
of Kurdish parties in the country.
Syria’s Kurds have staged limited demonstrations
demanding recognition of their rights and freedoms
since the uprising started in the country a year and
a half ago. Kurdish areas have been spared the
violence that has gripped other parts of the
Marching to Kurdish music and carrying Kurdish
flags, around 100,000 people -- young and old, men
and women -- rallied in the city’s streets toward
the Heliliya quarter. People in houses overlooking
the streets cheered the demonstrators on.
Reflecting the spirit of unity, the demonstrators
chanted slogans such as “Peshmerga and guerilla are
the same,” referring to the Kurdish armed forces,
and “long live the unity of Kurdish people.”
Halima Abdulwahid, 59, walked in the demonstration.
She lost her two sons during the recent upheavals.
Both were members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD),
the dominant party in Syrian Kurdistan.
“I would like to join the demonstrations every day
but my legs are about to stop functioning,” said
Abdulwahid. “But because … our leaders are united, I
also want to be part of that unity on behalf of my
sons. It’s great for us that they are united because
that means there will not be any unpleasant things
anymore. And this gives us peace.”
Assad’s forces are still present in Qamishlo and the
city is not considered one of the “liberated” areas
of Syrian Kurdistan. But Syrian security forces were
not seen on the streets during the demonstration.
In recent weeks, Assad’s forces have withdrawn from
a number of key Kurdish towns and cities, leading
Kurdish parties to take over.
In a show of unity, local leaders from various
Kurdish parties were marching arm in arm in Qamishlo.
This was the second demonstration aimed at
strengthening unity among Syrian Kurds, after
Kurdish parties stuck a deal in the Kurdistan Region
in July – the Erbil Agreement -- vowing to work
“We are very happy about the unity that has come
about in Syrian Kurdistan,” said Abdulrahi Jamil
Abdullah, a member of the Kurdish Democratic Party
of Syria. “We hope we can stay united like this and,
as you can see, our people are very happy about this
He added, “Through this demonstration, people are
showing that they have full confidence in political
parties and the parties need to wisely maintain that
Sileman Hasso, a member of the Kurdish National
Council (KNC) in Qamishlo, told Rudaw that the unity
agreement has positively affected the revolution in
Syrian Kurdistan and other parts of the country.
“The Kurdish revolution has been tied to the Syrian
revolution since day one. Before the unity
(agreement), there were only like a thousand people
demonstrating in Syrian Kurdistan’s streets,www.ekurd.net
but now tens of thousands are demonstrating. This
has energized the Syrian revolution as well … and we
have seen the impact over the past couple of weeks,”
Pictures of Kurdistan Region President Massoud
Barzani and Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of
the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were raised by
demonstrators. Many consider the PYD to be
affiliated with the PKK.
The PKK-PYD presence in Syrian Kurdistan has set off
alarm bells in Turkey, which has been in conflict
with the PKK for nearly three decades. The PKK
demands autonomy and recognition of Kurdish
political and cultural rights in Turkey.
During the demonstration, Ramziya Mohammed,
co-president of the People’s Council in Qamishli,
told demonstrators that the KNC should not have met
with the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
alone when he visited the Kurdistan Region last
The KNC, which is part of the unity agreement with
the PYD, took part in a meeting with Davutoglu
attended by representatives of the Syrian National
Council (SNC) and Kurdistan Regional Government
Mohammed said such meetings could negatively affect
the Kurdish cause in Syrian Kurdistan.
“Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan love unity but this
should not be exploited and used for a single
group’s goals,” warned Mohammed, whose People’s
Council is affiliated with the PYD.
She added, “We must be careful about political games
in the region, especially the political game that
Turkey plays against Kurdish people.”
Mohammed called on Kurdish parties to genuinely
unite and not participate in “enemy plots.”
By Rozh Ahmad
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