|New Legislation Consolidates Discrimination Against Syrian Kurds|
New legislation passed in Syria in recent weeks will strengthen systematic discrimination against the country’s Kurdish population and further undermine the human rights situation there.
Decree No. 49, which was signed by President Bashar al-Assad in September, consolidates harsh restrictions on the ownership and use of land in areas near the country’s borders which are heavily populated by Kurds. It represents yet another blow to the property rights of Kurds and stands to further weaken the local economies in these parts of the country.
Syrian Kurds have faced systematic discrimination throughout the country’s modern history. Following a census in 1962, at least 140,000 were denied citizenship. Those affected have been prevented from owning land, housing or businesses. The authorities also routinely target Kurdish activists, suppress use of the Kurdish language in schools, and prevent the use of Kurdish names for children, businesses or places.
‘The Syrian regime’s determination to impose an exclusively Arab identity upon the country has the effect of disadvantaging a huge proportion of the population,’ said KHRP Deputy Director Rachel Bernu. ‘Its appalling treatment of Kurds and disregard for human rights across the board is absolutely unacceptable and these latest developments represent yet another step in the wrong direction. The Syrian authorities must begin working towards a democratic system in which all citizens are equal before the law, state officials are accountable for their actions and ethnic minorities are embraced rather than marginalised and discriminated against.’