Syria’s Kurdish Hope

QAMISHLI, SYRIA – The civil war now engulfing Syria emerged from its people’s desire for political change. But the war is not universal: since the outbreak of protests in 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime – and long before – one group of Syrians, the Kurdish community, has consistently sought peaceful change and respect for the rights of all.

For Syria’s Kurds, the struggle against more than four decades of the Assad family’s Ba’athist dictatorship became particularly harsh after 2004, when security forces killed dozens of unarmed protesters in the northeastern town of Qamishli. This ignited the spark for democratic reform, and we were spurred on by the knowledge that our kinsmen had won political autonomy in northern Iraq and were creating a vibrant democracy.