Kurds, Assyrians join forces to protect minority rights in Syrian peace talks

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By Rudaw
Syria protest in Beirut in early 2015. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC, also known by its Kurdish initials ENKS) and the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) held a meeting to develop Kurdish-Assyrian ties in Syria and to discuss the framework for a political solution to the Syrian war recently put forward by a coalition of opposition groups, which they said disregards the rights of minority groups.

The High Negotiation Committee (HNC), representing a coalition of Syrian opposition groups at the UN-led peace talks, presented their ‘Executive Framework for a Political Solution’ to the civil war at a meeting in London on Wednesday hosted by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The ENKS and ADO stated that they “neither approve the document published by the HNC nor do they consider it binding,” in a joint statement published on Monday.

The HNC’s framework set a three-phase plan: Phase one is a six-month negotiation process that includes a ceasefire. Phase two is a year and a half-long transition period that would begin once basic principles of the transition process are agreed on and would see the establishment of a Transitional Governing Body. The third and final phase would see the implementation of a revised constitution and elections.

The Kurdish and Assyrian groups said that the HNC disregarded their suggestions in developing the framework, noting that the document does not address the concerns of minority groups in the country.

“The paper insists on emphasising the ethnic and religious affiliation of the country’s majority, which means to discount the national and democratic rights of other groups, namely of non-Arab,” reads the joint statement.

“In this way, it inhibits that those groups take part in the design of Syria’s future, manifesting a renunciation of the objectives of the Syrian revolution – freedom and democracy.”

The head of ENKS, Ibrahim Biro, told Rudaw on Sunday that his organization does not agree to the first article in the framework declaring Syria a part of the Arab nation, saying that there is no such thing.

The ENKS and ADO stress that they are committed to reaching a peaceful political resolution to the civil war, now in its sixth year, but that can be achieved through the framework set out by the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Etilaf), which Biro told Rudaw “safeguards the rights of the Kurdish nation.”

The Kurdish and Assyrian organizations call on the HNC and all parties to “eliminate the injustice and the arbitrariness against other ethnic and religious groups” and make amendments to the HNC’s framework.