Salih Muslim: The Solution is Democratic Autonomy / GENEVA PRESS CONFERENCE

(ANF) Salih Muslim, the co-president of the PYD, has held a press conference in Swiss Press Club in Geneva, Switzerland, where peace negotiations between the Syrian government and Western-sponsored opposition opened this week. The PYD, which demanded that Kurds we recognized as independent party at any talks, is not participating in the talks.

Muslim was joined at the press conference by TEV-DEM coordinating committee member İlham Ehmed, Hanibal Yacoubu of the Syriac Unity Party, and the President of the Syriac Unity Council Bessam İshak. İshak spoke first, pointing out that together Kurds and Syriacs accounted for 20% of the Syrian population, saying that “these were among the first groups who developed a opposition in Syria and are important, organized forces. But until today they have been kept out of the political arena. This is the approach today and it continues. That we were kept out of the Geneva-2 Conference is also a demonstration of this.”

İshak went on to stress that the current conference was not concerned with democracy in Syria and that any decision that emerged from it would not solve the problems of the Syrian people. “This life without an identity is viewed as proper for us” he said, “If a democratic solution is wanted in Syria, then representative interlocutors must be included.” Speaking about the development of Democratic Autonomy in Rojava, İshak told reporters they are “putting forward a general solution for Syria.”

PYD co-president Salih Muslim also stressed that only the model of Democratic Autonomy could provide a solution, and recommended such a solution to those attending the conference, saying “Kurds and Syriacs were not invited to the Geneva-2 Conference. Certain Kurdish groups were called, but it did not provide for the participation of a Kurdish identity. The Kurds that are participating there now do not have the authority to represent our people. Right now those in representation are the regime and dependent coalition that was forced together by other forces and has no connection to the people.”

‘They want to reconcile the coalition and the regime”

Muslim emphasized that foreign powers were working to reconcile the regime and the opposition, saying “If a democratic system is wanted in Syria, then the autonomous government that is being constructed in Cizire should be taken as the model principle. All peoples can find a  place in this system in a free and democratic fashion.” Muslim went on to say that Geneva conference was stillborn and that regional powers continue to support a blockage on Rojava.

Ahmad: They want to deny the Kurds

İlham Ehmed, a member of the TEV-DEM coordinating committee, began his remarks by celebrating the proclamation of autonomous government in Cizire. Like Muslim, Ehmed saw the conference as an attempt to reconcile the regime and the Western-backed coalition. “Again there is a denial of the Kurds” Ehmed said, “they do not want the Kurds to have a place in this new order. For this reason they were not invited. In this congress there is a goal to build a democratic Syria. The strongest opposition elements are not participating, and they are trying to find a solution with only the the weakest and most fractured parts of the opposition.”

Ehmed emphasized that Syria was passing through a historical process, and that all of its people had suffered oppression. “It is time to be free of this tyranny” said Ehmed, “I believe that we will build a democratic Syria together with all the peoples [of the country]. Our full faith is that the people of Syria will develop their own solution. Those participating in Geneva 2 are not the representatives of the Kurds. It is a controlled, dependent opposition. It is no other role than that of a puppet. We want to be unified with the democratic opposition. There is no Kurdish representative in the coalition. Within the coalition they want to make an Arab identity hegemonic. What kind of democracy is this? They want to continue the denial of the Kurds.”

Finally Ehmed emphasized how the project of democratic autonomy was being built by all the peoples together, saying “it should be direct democracy. That is what we built in Cizire. We recommend it to all the peoples of Syria. In the system that we have built in Cizire Syriacs, Kurds, Arabs and different people can express themselves with their own languages.” He concluded by pointing to the role of the struggle for female emancipation, as well as to the role that the Swizz model had played in developing the canton model in Rojava. Ehmed called the Swiss model the most democratic and populist system and argued it would work well in Syria.

Yacoup: Kurds and Syrians should have a place in the solution process

Hannibal Yacoup, a representative of the Syriac Unity Party of Syria, began by speaking about the history of Syriac/Assyrians in Syria and the politics of oppression and assimilation that they have been subjected to. Yacoup noted that despite policies that failed to recognize their identity they were able to keep their culture alive until today. Finally Yacoup stressed that Kurds and Syriacs must be given the opportunity to take part in the peace process, saying “a solution in which two peoples have no place cannot be successful. Nor could there be a democratic Syria. It would be a dependent, backwards and oppressive regime. The system that we are building in Cizire should be accepted as the general model for Syria.”