Seminar Announcement : Democratization in Syria, Perspectives and prospects, Syria and Kurds at the Crossroads of Change

Kurdish American Education Society-Los Angeles

Hosted by the Kurdish American Education Society-LA  and co-sponsored by various departments and programs at California State University, Long Beach and Kurdish Community of Southern California

This seminar will provide a forum for those who have an interest in exploring the unfolding developments in Syria as the contending forces in the multi-ethnic and religiously diverse Syria are attempting to reshape the country in its challenging path to democratization. These developments have been both the source of inspiration and uncertainty for Syrians as a whole, ethnic and religious minorities including Kurds, in particular.  The program is based on the critical need for understanding the gravity and complexity of the humanitarian and political crisis both regionally and internationally. Our distinguished panelists consisting of academics, human rights activists, researchers, lawyers, journalists, and representatives of the Syrian and Kurdish opposition, will discuss the key issues that Syrians are confronting. The seminar will consist of two consecutive panels on separate but related themes. Each panel will consist of short talks on specific topics, debates and panel discussions that will feature distinguished speakers from investigative media, history, political science, law, religion, human and language rights, and political opposition.  The key themes of the seminar are as follows:

•          The humanitarian crisis and relief efforts

•          Historical context 

•          The cultural fabric of Syria and its political implications

•          Minorities and human and civil rights in Syria

•          Kurds and linguistic rights

•          Democratization and Islamization

•          Political opposition, perspectives and prospects for change

•          Sectarianism and its implications

•          The role of minorities in the protests and armed conflict

•          Regional and international diplomacy

•          Syria and political dilemmas

•          Prospects for change in the post Assad Period 

The seminar will be conducted on Oct 6, 2012 at the California State University, the University Theater (UT) from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

For registration go to

Please direct inquiries to : Hiwa Nezhadian :

Seminar Speakers

Seminar speakers include leading figures from academia, political science, history, international law, human rights, media, and political activists from California and across the world. They will either directly address the audience or come to us through Skype.


Los Angeles  Dr. James Gelvin: University of California, Los Angeles, Department of History, scholar and historian of the modern  Middle East, with particular emphasis on the root causes and history of  social and religious movements  and their contemporary history of conflict with the West, prolific  author of  many books,  articles, and book chapters on Islam, politics, nationalism, secularism, Arab Spring,  political and historical developments in different parts of the Middle East including Syria

Geneva:          Dr. Jordi Tejel: The Graduate Studies Institute, Geneva, professor, scholar and author  of several books on the Middle East and North Africa with particular focus on minorities, multiculturalism, armed conflict, author of Kurds. Syria’s Kurds: History, Politics and Society

Tennessee     Dr. Michael Gunter: University of Tennessee, professor, scholar, historian, and cited authority on Kurdish question, prolific author of many books, articles and book chapters on Kurdish nationalism, struggle, and conflict.

Arizona         Dr. Christian Sinclair: University of Arizona and Exeter University, assistant director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies with research interest in Kurdish politics in Syria, media, language policy and planning, author of  Kurds Will No Longer “Be Quiet, and Syrian Kurds in Europe, 2010: migration, asylum, and deportation

New York      Dr. Sarah Leah Whitson: Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, scholar of law  and author of many articles on human rights in the Middle East and North Africa

Los Angeles Dr. Barry Fisher: lawyer and human rights advocate with national and international public interest; former Vice President, Human Rights Advocates International,  Chairman, World Jurist Association :Religion Rights Committee, author of several articles and presentations on racial, religious and political minorities including Kurds