A Solution in sight for Syria’s Stateless Kurds?
Last week, the Turkish daily Today Zaman reported that Syria plans to solve the problem of the stateless Kurds, who compromise around 40% of Kurds in Syria today.
In the 1962 census, the Syrian regime deprived 300,000 Kurds of citizenship. 225,000 of them were designated as foreigners, and the other 75,000 were deemed aliens whose origin is “uncertain”. The Baathist regime confiscated the property of those Kurds over the years. This decision was taken as part of the Arabization effort by the regime, which claimed that those left without documentation are Kurds from Turkey. There are currently around 400,000 “stateless” Kurds in Syria who carry a pink ID, identifying them as tourists. Over the years, Syria gave citizenship to some of the “foreign” Kurds, but didn’t do so for those whose origin is “uncertain”.
Syria is working in cooperation with Turkey to solve the issue. Under the leadership of the Islamist AKP party, Turkey has taken steps to give more rights to the Kurds, as part of a move called the “Kurdish Initiative”. According to the report, Syria will return to Turkey Kurds who came from there, and will grant citizenship to the remaining Kurds in the country. In a move that might last years, Syria has begun to conduct a census in the Kurdish regions in Syria to determine the number of stateless Kurds. Syrian officials hope that as a result of this initiative, many Kurds will be returned to Turkey.
At the same times, Syria continues to arrest Kurdish activists and citizens, jailing them for charges such as creating religious or ethnic strife, “weakening national sentiment”, and being members of illegal parties.