Riad Turk, the ‘Syrian Mandela’, useless at 93 in France

Syrian dissident Riad Turk, who has been in comparison with Nelson Mandela for spending years in jail for his staunch opposition to the federal government, died Monday in exile in France, his daughter stated.

“My father died peacefully and glad of what he has achieved, surrounded by his two daughters and his grandchildren,” Khuzama Turk informed AFP. He was 93.

France’s ambassador to Syria Brigitte Curmi wrote on X: “The Syrian Mandela Riad Turk simply left us after an entire lifetime of wrestle for a free and democratic Syria.

“Could his aspirations for a dignified life for Syrians proceed to encourage our work.”

Turk fled to France in 2018 after being exfiltrated out of Syria by militants into neighbouring Turkey.

He had gone into hiding after being free of his final spell in jail in 2002 for declaring “the dictator is useless”, following the dying of former president Hafez al-Assad.

In complete he had spent 17 years imprisoned, usually with out trial, on claims of assorted offences underneath Hafez al-Assad and later his son Bashar when he turned Syria’s president.

Turk was the longtime chief of the dissident Syrian Communist Occasion – Political Bureau, which was outlawed by Bashar al-Assad and later renamed the Syrian Democratic Folks’s Occasion.

He supported peaceable anti-government protests which broke out in Syria in 2011, and backed the Syrian Nationwide Council which introduced collectively opponents of Assad because the nation’s civil warfare intensified.

“Our revolution is peaceable, fashionable and rejects sectarianism, and the Syrian individuals are one,” Turk declared in October 2011.

“There will likely be no compromise nor negotiations about our purpose of toppling this despotic regime.”

A number of Syrian opposition figures paid homage to Turk, who writer Yassin Al-Haj Saleh described as “one probably the most eminent fighters for democracy in Syria”.

Syria’s battle has left greater than half one million useless and displaced tens of millions after spiralling right into a warfare involving overseas armies, militias and jihadists.

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