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Interview

Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim, Chairman of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change:

»The Kurds have the right to their national dream«


KURDWATCH, August 19, 2011—Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim (b. 1932) is chairman of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union Party and the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change, which was founded on June 30, 2011 in Damascus. [KURDWATCH reported]. ʿAbdulʿazim is an attorney and lives in Damascus. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, he outlines approaches to resolving the Kurdish question in Syria.



KurdWatch:Mr. ʿAbdulʿazim, the founding declaration of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change states that it is necessary to »fairly« solve the Kurdish question. What does that mean?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: For us, Kurdish matters are national matters of the first degree. We must all have the same rights and duties. That is our main goal.

KurdWatch:The most important demand made by the Kurdish parties is the constitutional recognition of the Kurds as the second ethnicity in Syria. What do you think of this?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: 27 Million people live in Syria. Ten to fifteen percent are Kurds. They are an important part of the Syrian people. In the 1950s, the Kurds did not predominantly feel that they were second-class citizens, as they do today. In a democratic state, no Kurd will feel oppressed or neglected. The chauvinistic treatment of the Kurds has led them to feel oppressed. The Arab nationalists must see the Kurdish question as their own question, and they must solve it. We share the same history and the same fate. In a democratic and fraternal climate, there is no difference between an Arab and a Kurd.

KurdWatch: Will the new Syrian constitution assert that the Kurds are the second ethnicity in Syria?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: This will be resolved in due course. At the request of the Kurds, we in the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change have commented on the Kurdish question. We will discuss everything else at the appropriate time, as we are not the entire Syrian people.

KurdWatch: What is your personal opinion or the opinion of your party?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: As I said, everything will be decided at the appropriate time. The most important thing right now is that we fight together for democratic national change and for a new constitution, so that all people, including the Kurds, receive their rights.

KurdWatch: When we talk about the Kurdish question, we also talk about cultural rights, among other things. What do you think of when you hear this?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: The Kurds have their own language, their own folklore, and their own culture. All of these things must be encouraged. The Kurds should have their own language schools. The state must financially support this. Every year the Kurds celebrate the Newroz festival. We must take part in this and celebrate with the Kurds. The Kurds must also have their own media.

KurdWatch: The Kurdish national flag and the concept of Kurdistan as a term for the land of the Kurds are both part of Kurdish culture. Why do these two points cause so much concern for many Syrians?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: The Kurds have the right to their national dream. No one can deny them that. We do not have the right to take their dream of Kurdistan away from them. This is one thing, but reality is another. We must fight together for change, without outside influences. We Arabs also have a national dream of a united Arab nation. But I am not prepared to fulfill this dream against the will of the Kurds. National unity is more important than ethnic unity.

KurdWatch: How will the consequences of the Arabization projects be dealt with, for example, the »Arab Belt«, under which many Kurds were dispossessed and expelled?
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim: Committees to investigate these questions must be formed for all problem areas. The Kurds must receive all of their rights. This is a national matter, not one specific to the Kurds.

August 9, 2011

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