By ignoring Rojava, Western powers disregard secular, democratic values: Salih Muslim

KT Report:

Salih Muslim

Salih Muslim

These are extracts from a statement to the international media this week by Salih Muslim, co-chair of the PYD (People’s Democratic Party). (Source: ANF)

“The civil war now engulfing Syria emerged from its people’s desire for political change. But the war is not universal: since the outbreak of protests in 2011 against President Bashar Assad’s regime — and long before — one group of Syrians, the Kurdish community, has consistently sought peaceful change and respect for the rights of all.

“For the Kurds, the widening conflict meant that, in addition to fighting a brutal dictatorship, we were now confronted by al-Qaida militants seeking to establish an Islamic emirate in the Middle East. The Kurds have never sought to achieve democratic goals through violent means.

“We wanted no part of a revolution that massacred children, drove families from their homes and left millions destitute. We took up arms only to protect ourselves and our property from an immediate extreme Islamist threat that tolerated no dissent.

“Radical Islamists targeted us because our people generally hold secular views of politics and society, with women, for example, playing a prominent role in public and professional life. Islamists also abhor us because we demand self-determination, whereas they seek an amorphous emirate that lumps all Muslims together without regard for cultural and historical differences. Indeed, they aim to suppress, and even eliminate, any such difference.

“While defending ourselves, we have also established our own government in Syria’s Kurdish regions, the only areas that enjoy both order and democracy. The streets of Qamishli, Amuda and Malikiyya are calm and safe. The armed gangs that move freely through rebel-controlled cities such as Aleppo are absent in Kurdish areas. When people go to the markets they do not fear being kidnapped or killed.

“We also know that violence will not solve this conflict”. Muslim says that Syrian Kurds’ political representatives are willing to sit down with anyone — regime or rebels — to achieve a peace agreement. “Other rebel factions demand Assad’s resignation … we insist on no such preconditions.

“We do not even seek the creation of an independent Kurdish state — just a guarantee of Kurdish rights in a unified Syria. Centralized power has suppressed the country’s diversity and led to appalling abuses. Our chief goal is to end the persecution and discrimination, including the ban on the Kurdish language and our exclusion from certain professions, and we believe that this can best be achieved through a decentralized political system that devolves power to the provinces.

“By ignoring us, Western governments are disregarding the secular, democratic values that they claim to uphold. Worse, our fragile democracy risks falling victim to extremists who pose a mortal danger not just to Syria, but to the wider Middle East and the world”.

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