Time Magazine's Piotr Zalewski investigates the increasingly mobilized Kurdish protest movement in northern Syria, particularly after the death of Kurdish leader Mashaal Tammo. Zalewski asks whether the Kurds will join in the uprising, and whether that uprising will become a violent one.
"I am sick, I cannot sleep," says Hervin Ose, fighting back tears as she remembers her friend and fellow Syrian Kurdish activist, Mashaal Tammo. "Till now I cannot believe he is not here. Sometimes I even try to call him, sometimes I wait for him to call me."
On Friday Oct. 7, Hervin met Tammo at a friend's house in Qamishli, a Kurdish-majority town in northeastern Syria, just across the border from Turkey. "He had a sadness about him," she recalls, speaking via Skype. Tammo, one of the few Syrian Kurdish leaders to have openly called for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, had recently escaped an assassination attempt. Now he spoke as if he was going away on a long trip. "My message is finished in this life," he told her. Before taking his leave Tammo even snapped a few pictures of his friend. "I wondered," says Hervin. "He'd never taken a photo of me before." (See pictures of Syria's ongoing protests.)
It was the last time she was to see him alive. Hours later, according to reports, masked assailants gunned down Tammo inside his Qamishli home, leaving his son and another Kurdish activist wounded. Hervin, who insisted on being quoted by her real name — "I am a wanted person already... I am tired of being afraid," she says — has no doubts as to who ordered her friend's murder. "Bashar," she says, "he made this decision."