Middle East News
Syrian Kurds to protest despite granting of citizenship
Apr 7, 2011, 16:15 GMT
Beirut/Cairo - Three Kurdish political groups in Syria are planning protests despite President Bashar al-Assad's move on Thursday to grant citizenship to Kurds 'registered as foreigners,' according to a leading Syrian opposition group.
The Democratic Accord, The Democratic Union and the Yekiti Party plan to take part in protests on Friday, said a statement by the US- based Reform Party of Syria.
Kurdish students are also planning a rally in Syria on Friday, saying that nationality does not translate into freedom.
'The young Kurdish Syrians are restless in the face of these corrupt officials,' said the Reform Party of Syria in a statement.
The presidential decree did not announce how many Kurds would receive citizenship.
'In a way al-Assad is trying to absorb the Kurds by giving them citizenship,' a Syrian activist who requested anonymity told the German Press Agency dpa.
On Thursday, Syria also released 48 ethnic Kurds who had been imprisoned for over a year after a meeting between al-Assad and Kurdish leaders earlier this week, according to Lebanese state-radio.
The moves to appease Kurds living in Syria follows weeks of anti-government protests, which included calls by Kurds for equal citizenship rights.
At least a fifth of the country's ethnic Kurdish population were deprived of citizenship after a controversial 1962 government census in the governorate of Hassake.
These Kurds are consequentially banned from jobs in the public sector because they are not citizens.
Kurds, who make up about 10-15 per cent of Syria's population of 20 million, launched widespread demonstrations against the Syrian government in 2004.
Activists on the social network Facebook also called for protests on Friday to demand al-Assad's ouster.
'Tomorrow, on the Friday of Resistance, we will protest in all of Syria's districts until we gain freedom,' the Facebook group named The Syrian Revolution 2011 posted.
Ahead of the planned protests, al-Assad moved to sack the governor of the city of Homms.
Governor Mohamed Iyad Ghazal was removed from his post at the insistence of the central city's residents, who accused Ghazal of corruption, state news agency SANA reported.
Al-Assad appointed a new prime minister on Sunday, days after his cabinet resigned in an effort to calm widespread anti-government protests.
Meanwhile, opposition groups reported that telephone communications and internet access were severed Thursday in the southern town of Inkhil, not far from Daraa where some of the most violent protests have taken place.
Dozens are feared to have died in violent government crackdowns on pro-reform protesters in Syria in recent weeks.
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