Northern Syria: Promising First Steps Towards Peaceful Coexistence Of All Population Groups


Society For Threatened Peoples Press Release:

STP publishes report on research visit to Kurdish enclaves

The people living in the autonomous Kurdish regions – which are frequently attacked by Islamist terror militias – are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance from Western Europe to ensure that their “oasis of peace” in northern Syria will continue to exist. Kamal Sido, Middle East consultant of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen, has just returned from a research visit to northern Syria. He warns: “Without humanitarian aid for the enclaves – which are almost entirely cut off from the outside world – the promising first steps towards peaceful coexistence are at risk, and hundreds of thousands of people from this part of Syria might be forced to flee to Europe.”

In northern Syria, Sido met with representatives of almost all relevant political parties and religious communities. He spoke to representatives of the minority groups, the security forces, to the authorities and to journalists to get an unbiased impression of the situation. On Friday, the STP published the interviews in the 80-page report “Rojava – Schutzzone für religiöse und ethnische Minderheiten in Nordsyrien?” (in German).

In a discussion with Sido, the Kurdish President of the Canton of Kobani, Anwar Muslim, said: “Our hopes, our demands, are that the international community – after helping to fight IS – will also provide help to rebuild the region.” In Rojava in northern Syria, there is not enough drinking water, not enough electrical power and not enough medical care. Also, there are food shortages. Representatives of the Kurdish, Christian, Yazidi and Arab organizations agree that these problems must be solved quickly to ensure that the people can stay in the enclaves. Thus, a member of the Christian Sutoro militia in Al-Hasakeh stated: “We don’t want to live in the crowded refugee centers in Europe. If the causes of flight are resolved, we won’t have to come to your country.” According to a representative of an NGO in Rojava, northern Syria, it would also be necessary to resolve emerging conflicts between the Kurdish parties and put an end to human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests of critics.

There are about three million people living in the Kurdish regions between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates and in Afrin in the extreme northwest of Syria – plus hundreds of thousands of refugees who belong to different national and religious minority groups from embattled regions throughout the country. They live in fear of radical Islamist militias and of the Turkish government.

In 2012, several Kurdish organizations had declared the region of Rojava autonomous and – together with their Assyrian Aramaic, Turkmen and Arab allies – managed to defend the territory against attacks of the Islamic State (IS). Now, the people living in the “protection zone” want to organize their lives and are expecting help from the international community. As a consequence of Assad’s dictatorship, they strongly oppose of an Islamic law in Syria.

Contact: Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East consultant –

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