Kurdish Protests in Syria: Playing Politics with Human Rights


Turkish tanks at the Syrian border

Turkey has dominated mainstream news reports about the Syrian conflict, as Turkish and Syrian forces exchange fire for the second week in a row. The resulting increase in tension has threatened to spill into an all-out war, one that would dramatically affect the lives of Syria’s Kurdish community. In addition to the increased tension, reemerging rumors that the Syrian government is actively supporting PKK fighters as a form of retaliation against Turkey is mentioned as a motive for Turkey to launch an all out war in the region, against the Kurds and the Syrian regime.

Such rumors have left their mark on Syrian Kurds. While Kurds continue protesting regularly against the Assad regime, many others also voice their concerns about the growing shadow of Turkish aggression.

The Syrian branch of the PKK, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has denied all allegations of involvement with the Assad regime on multiple occasions, with the most recent being from PKK leader Murat Karayilan who said that PYD forces are “not cooperating with the regime or the government forces”.

However, dominant international narratives have prevailed in the majority of media reports, which lack the detail and nuance of the reality of life in Rojava for many Syrian Kurds. Some Kurdish towns, such as Kobanî, have enjoyed relative autonomy after the expulsion of Syrian regime forces. Such towns are ruled by all Kurdish political parties who have agreed to distribute the task of governance evenly, despite occasional disagreements and clashes.

Below is a collection of videos, images, and articles that pain a more cohesive picture of the Kurdish struggle against the Assad regime. A wide variety of Kurdish groups continue to stage protests and mobilize their followers against the regime.