Kurdish & Syrian { 34 images } Created 7 Nov 2010

The portraits in this series show a cross-section of the Kurdish population living in Qamishli in September 2010.
According to the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, Kurds make up between 15-20% of the 20 million Syrian population, making them the largest ethnic minority group in the country. The majority of Kurdish Syrians live in the North east of the country around the towns of Hasakey and Qamishli, in what would be regarded as the western part of Kurdistan, were the nation to exist.
Despite totalling such a high percentage of the population, an estimated 300,000 Syrian Kurds are stateless according to Refugees International, with Kurdish groups insisting that the true number of stateless persons is almost double this figure.
As in Kurdish Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein, the Kurdish areas of Syria were subject to 'Arabization' from 1965, during which towns and cities were given Arabic names replacing their Kurdish originals. From 1965 the Syrian government started to provide financial and housing incentives to Arab farmers who moved to the North east of the country.
In 1961 Syria declared itself an Arab Republic. In 1962, a year after the nation's change of name, there was a census ordered for only the North eastern province of Jazira, an area that was predominantly Kurdish. Residents in possession of national ID cards were requested to hand them in for renewal; in return they got nothing. The government managed to con almost all Kurds in the region out of their nationality and into statelessness.
Syria's present standpoint on Kurds in the country remains the same as it always has; that Kurds are not Syrian, and that they started illegally entering the country in the mid twentieth century from Turkey and Iraq, therefore not having any right to citizenship. Unless the Syrian government decides to change it's policies on Kurdish rights, the present situation for Kurdish men, women and children in the country will continue.
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