Syrian security forces killed at least two people when they opened fire on tens of thousands of mourners on Saturday at the funeral of Kurdish opposition leader Meshaal al-Tammo in the eastern Syrian city of Qamishli, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The funeral turned into a huge protest against president Assad, at least 50.000 people took part.
Meshaal Tammo (53) was killed on Friday when four masked gunmen burst into his house in the city of Qamishli. Tammo was shot, his son was wounded. Tammo, a charismatic figure, who was released from jail earlier this year, was an member of the Syrian National Council which was recently founded by the opposition. He was also the founder of the liberal Kurdish Future Party, which considers Kurds an integral part of Syria, which alienated him somewhat form leaders of other Kurdish political groups. However, his son Fares al-Tammo, told al Jazeera from Erbil in northern Iraq that the Kurds blamed the government for his father's death adn were quite angered by the murder. 'This blood is precious to them
(Kurds), they will not give up until the regime is overthrown and the execution of Bashar al-Assad,' he said.
|Faris Tammo with followers in Erbil (Getty)|
Kurds make up of about 10% of Syria's population. They have long complained of discrimination and staged violent protests against Assad in 2004. Kurds are not allowed to teach Kurdish in schools or set up Kurdish radio stations. Assad tried to pacify them by giving citizenship to tens of thousands of people. Also casualties in Kurdish areas so far remained the lowest, compard with other parts of the country.
Assad has promised reform, but his opponents say his promises are hollow and that his government has forfeited all legitimacy after killing at least 2,900 civilians, by a U.N. count. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday that more than 1,100 security personnel had been killed in the unrest.
Friday's surge of violence came as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Assad, his Syrian counterpart, would have to leave power if he failed to implement reforms acceptable to the opposition.