Syrian opposition’s transition plan excludes minorities, reflects chauvinism: Kurdish National Council says

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Supporters of the Kurdish National Council protest in Hasakah. File photo

ARA News

WASHINGTONThe Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) in an official statement rejected a transition plan proposed by the the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), that is now lobbying in New York for this transition plan. According to the KNC, the proposed plan does not recognise the Kurdish rights in Syria.

Starting yesterday, September 19, a delegation of the HNC campaigns for this paper at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in New York without taking into account the reservations submitted by the KNC, the Kurdish council said on Tuesday. 

On September 7, 2016, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) released a document in London called “Executive Framework for a Political Solution”, representing its draft for a transitional period in Syria which does not recognize any form of federalism, or the new self-administrations set up by the Syrian Kurds.

Dr Riyad Hijab, the General Coordinator of the HNC, addressed a Ministerial event hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and co-sponsored by France, Germany, Qatar, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom on Monday, calling for the establishment of a Transitional Governoring Body, and elections under international supervision.

“This document is not part of a solution, but rather a danger to a democratic, pluralistic and unified Syria guaranteeing cultural, social and political rights to all its ethnic, religious and linguistic groups,” the KNC statement said.

The KNC was especially angered that the transition plan refers to Islam and Arab culture as the source “for intellectual production and social relations” in Syria.

“This definition clearly excludes other cultures – be they ethnic, linguistic or religious – and sets the majority culture as the leading one,” the Kurdish National Council said.

“As Syrian Kurds, we feel repulsed by this narrow perception of the Syrian people. The similarities between this definition and the chauvinist policies under the Assad regime are undeniable,” it added.

The KNC demanded the recognition and the support of cultural diversity in Syria through a visible acknowledgement of all components of the Syrian people and by protecting their equal rights.

Moreover, the KNC also disagrees that Arabic is the only official language, without recognizing Kurdish or Aramic as second official languages.

Furthermore, the Kurdish council said that the document ignores the followers of other religions like Christians, Yezidis and even non-believers. “This is one of the reasons why the KNC strongly advises to add secularism to the principles of the ruling system.” 

Moreover, the KNC said the decentralization, as well as the provision of a two-third majority vote in case of no consensus, will lead to Arabic domination. “This will not lead to the protection of minorities but rather to the domination of the Arab majority in Syria. Other Syrians will not have the chance to substantially influence politics.” 

“The current formulations allow for a centralised authoritarian rule of the majority over minority groups. As a result, this document can neither facilitate (social) peace nor democracy,” the KNC stressed. 

The Kurdish council called on the international community to take a stand for ethnic, religious, linguistic diversity, equality, political decentralisation and democracy as essential parts of any agreement structuring the transitional period and the future of Syria.

The KNC might consider leaving the Syrian opposition if it does not change it’s views on Kurdish political rights.

“If the international community would allow the potential exclusion of the Syrian Kurds from political participation in their country – an option in no way ruled out by the HNC’s “Executive Framework” –  the Kurdish people would not only face hard times, but may have to take critical decisions regarding their future,” the KNC concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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