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Kurdistan Issues: Kurds in Syria and Armenia

Kurds often speak Kurdish in public, unless all those present do not. It is claimed that Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated. No political parties are allowed for any group, Arab or Kurdish. Population is 10% or about 1.8 million.

According to Human Rights Watch, there are 142,465 Kurds (by the government’s count), and well over 200,000 Kurds (according to Kurdish sources), who have been arbitrarily denied the right to Syrian nationality in violation of international law. These Kurds. who have no claim to a nationality other than Syrian, are literally trapped in Syria: not only are they treated in a discriminatory fashion in the land of their birth, but also they do not Shave the option of relocating to another country because they Iack passports or other internationally recognized travel documents. They are not permitted to own land, housing or businesses. They cannot be employed at government agencies and state-owned enterprises, and cannot practice as doctors or engineers. They may not legally marry Syrian citizens. Kurds with “foreigner” status, as they are called, do not have the right to vote in elections or referenda, or run for public office. They are not issued passports or other travel documents, and thus may not legally leave or return to Syria.

Suppression of ethnic identity of Kurds in Syria include: various bans on the use of the Kurdish language; refusal to register children with Kurdish names; replacement of Kurdish place names with new names in Arabic; prohibition of businesses that do not have Arabic names; not permitting Kurdish private schools; and the prohibition of books and other materials written in Kurdish.

Kurds in Armenia

In the Soviet Union, from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, the Kurds were a ‘protected minority’, under Soviet Law. They had their own state-sponsored newspaper, radio broadcast and cultural events. During the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, many Kurds were forced to leave their homes.

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