After Decades as Nonpersons, Syrian Kurds May Soon Be Recognized

(New York Times) Katherine Zoepf - While about 1.5 million Kurds live in Syria, 200,000 Kurds are denied citizenship, with no right to own property, to travel abroad, or to go to high school. Yet speculation that President Assad is planning to do something about the "Kurdish problem," as the issue of Syria's stateless Kurds is known, has been circulating widely in recent weeks, as government officials have been quietly taking a census of Kurdish families. On March 30, 312 Kurds who were imprisoned after the demonstrations last year were released under a presidential amnesty. On April 6, when the Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani was chosen as president of Iraq, Kurds living in Damascus played the Kurdish national anthem without official interference in a street celebration, an act that Syrian Kurds say would have been unthinkable a year ago. "The situation for the Kurds has really eased in Iraq and Turkey," a Western diplomat said. "The Assad regime probably realizes that the best way to weaken any separatist sentiment is to give the Kurds more of a stake in the country."

2005-04-29 00:00:00

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