Syria: The Silenced Kurds

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Kurds are the largest non-Arab ethnic minority in Syria, comprising about 8.5 to 10 percent of the population of 13.8 million. This report documents the situation of stateless Syrian-born Kurds — 142,465 by the government's count, and well over 200,000 according to Kurdish sources — who have been arbitrarily denied the right to Syrian nationality in violation of international law. These Kurds, who have no claim to a nationality other than Syrian, are literally trapped in Syria: not only are they treated in a discriminatory fashion in the land of their birth, but also they do not have the option of relocating to another country because they lack passports or other internationally recognized travel documents. This report also examines policies and practices of the Syrian government that violate the right of Kurds in Syria to enjoy their own culture, use their own language, and otherwise exercise freedom of expression, also in violation of international human rights standards. These issues have received little international attention.