|KURDS KILLED IN CLASHES AS DEMONSTRATIONS SWEEP SYRIA|
Kurdish demonstrations have swept across Syria, following outcry over the killings of Kurds by Syrian authorities and pro-Saddam supporters at a football stadium in Qamishlo, northeast Syria, on 12 March 2004.
According to information received by KHRP, almost 2000 supporters of the Fatuwwa team from Dayr al-Sur, a renowned Ba'thist city, entered the football stadium armed with guns and bearing pro-Saddam and anti-Kurdish statements. Fighting broke out between the Arab supporters and the unarmed Kurdish spectators. Reportedly, Syrian security personnel who were present and internal security police, summoned by the Mayor of Qamishlo, joined the Fatuwwa supporters in attacking the Kurds. Approximately twenty Kurds, including three children, were killed in the stadium and more than 150 injured.
The riots spread across the Kurdish cities of Amude, Derik, Hasaka and Ras al-'Ain in northeast Syria. Kurdish and political party and democracy leaders called for uprisings. Many government buildings and statues were attacked and burned, including the Ba'th Party headquarters in Qamishlo and a statue of the late President Hafiz al-Asad. A number of Kurdish civilians were reportedly killed in clashes with government forces. The estimates of the number killed reached fifty by that night. The Governor of al-Hasaka province ordered tanks and helicopters into the city; a curfew was imposed; and all telephone and communication lines were interrupted.
A crowd of almost 10,000 carried the bodies of ten of the deceased through Qamishli streets on 13 March 2004. A further five of the assembled Kurds were shot dead and many more injured. By nightfall, the numbers of Kurds reportedly killed included six in Dayr al-Zur, three in Damascus and one in Derik in northeast Syria, where a further eighty were injured.
Mass demonstrations are continuing across the Kurdish areas, with Kurdish people, residences and businesses under attack from both Syrian authorities and nationalist Arabs.
With the war in Iraq and the federalism agreement of March 2004 which secured Kurdish linguistic, cultural and political rights within a federal Iraq, the Kurds of Syria have come under increasing attacks from both the regime and as a result of escalating anti-Kurdish sentiment among Syria's majority Arab population. Kurds represent approximately 12 per cent of the Syrian population, numbering between one and two million, and have been subjected to oppression by the Ba'th regime in Syria for more than forty years.