March 13, 2009
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Open Letter to Joseph Biden, Vice President - By Sherkoh Abbas

Dear Vice President Biden:

Recent American and European overtures towards the Assad regime in Syria, suggesting a dialogue with the minority Alawite-led regime  in Damascus, has encouraged the Syrian regime to continue implementing its long-held policy of persecuting its Kurdish people and other advocates of democracy in Syria. We are gravely concerned that this trajectory reverses earlier U.S. initiatives that promoted Middle East democracy in general and Syrian democracy in particular.  Presently the Syrian regime has continued to or is newly carrying out actions that seek to punish Syrian Kurds and which must be ended:
a) The group of more than 300,000 Syrian-Kurds who were stripped of their Syrian citizenship some 40 years ago and made stateless continue to lack access to nationality - a basic human right. This on-going policy initiative by Baathist regime in Damascus aims to retain control over the demography in the Kurdish region of Syria by displacing the Kurds and promoting Arabization in the Kurdish region.
b) Syrian presidential directive #49 proscribes Kurds from selling, buying, or owning property or businesses.  Kurds are however permitted without restriction, to sell their property to Arabs.
c) Kurds serving in the Syrian Army as part of their mandated national service have been singled out for punishment, tortured, or even killed by Arab officers. The families of these Kurdish servicemen have been denied due-process or access to their remains.
d) Ordinary Syrian Kurds have been imprisoned, tortured, and died at the hands of their torturers.
e) There is an ongoing and systematic campaign of kidnapping and assassination of Kurdish leaders.

f) Under Syrian presidential directives, Syrian Kurds as well as denationalized Syrian Kurds are forbidden to operate businesses and denied employment in the private sector, public enterprises, and government.

g)  As part of the Assad regime's Arabization of the Kurdish region, names of Kurdish towns and villages, and even businesses enterprises have been changed.

h) Over 500,000 Kurds displaced due to the Syrian government Arabization policies and as a result of drought and starvation, have streamed into Damascus, other cities in Syria. Those able to do so have moved to Europe.  The Syrian government, moreover, has refused basic assistance to these Kurdish displaced persons, including food, shelter, healthcare, and employment.
i) Tens of thousand of Syrian Kurds have sought refuge in Europe, Iraqi Kurdistan, Canada, and the U.S. but only 50,000-75,000 of them have found it.  Regrettably, some European countries, and Germany in particular, agreed to comply with the Syrian government's demand to  refoule 7,000 Kurdish asylum seekers where they will now face economic hardship, imprisonment, and torture.
j) The Assad regime has armed the Arab settlers in the Kurdish region as a means to intimidate and harass local Kurds.
The Kurdistan national Assembly of Syria (KNAS) supports a dialogue with the Syrian regime that addresses issues of democracy and human rights, and includes as part of the dialogue cessation of the deliberate disenfranchisement of the Kurdish minority by the Assad regime.
The KNAS calls on the Obama Administration to be true to the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and immediately address the deliberate and systematic denial of human rights and freedom to the Kurdish minority in Syria, including unwarranted torture of Syrian Kurds citizens.  Finally, we wish to remind President Obama of the universality of the American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The people of Syria, and Syrian Kurds in particular, want the same inalienable rights, the same gifts as the American people have: freedom and democracy.

Yours truly,

Sherkoh Abbas, President
Kurdistan National Assembly - Syria   Website:


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