Last updated: 21 March, 2012

Kurds hold New Year demonstrations in Syria

Thousands of Syrian Kurds held demonstrations in northern Syria on Wednesday to mark the Kurdish New Year, as seen in videos posted online by anti-regime activists.

In the main northern city of Aleppo, demonstrators waving Kurdish flags shouted slogans such as “Azadi”, meaning freedom in the Kurds’ Kurmanji language, and “Our Syrian revolution is for justice, dignity and freedom.”

“Get out!” they cried, addressing President Bashar al-Assad, while students vowed to drop out of school until the fall of the Syrian leader.

In the northeastern town of Qamishli, on the Turkish border, demonstrators carried portraits of Meshaal Tamo, a Syrian Kurdish opposition leader who was assassinated in October.

In the northeastern city of Hassaka, several protesters chanted anti-Assad slogans.

In Ras al-Ain, also on the Turkish border, the crowd carried Syrian revolutionary flags, the standard used from the country’s independence from France until Assad’s Baath party came to power in 1963.

Syria’s Kurds represent around nine percent of Syria’s 23-million-strong population. Most of them live in the north and in Damascus.

They repeatedly complain of discrimination and demand recognition for their Kurdish culture, their language and that they be treated like full-fledged citizens of Syria.

A dozen Kurdish political groups are banned by the authorities.