DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The arrest of four Kurdish separatists in Syria was met with little sympathy by average citizens worried about government crackdowns, advocates said.
Syria is quick to quiet any dissent, holding scores of dissidents and political activists behind bars to the chagrin of many human-rights groups.
Four members of the pro-Kurdish Yeketi group were arrested last week by Syrian authorities following calls for Kurdish autonomy in Syria.
Opposition groups, however, offered little sympathy, saying the move was out of step with other reform movements in Syria, Emirati newspaper The National reports.
Fuad Aleko, the leader of the Yeketi Party who escaped detention, said the call for autonomy was taken out of context.
"There is no excuse for the government to make these arrests," he told The National. "This slogan 'autonomy' or self-determination is found in all the world, even in non-democratic counties, like China. It does not mean independence."
Ammar Qurabi, an advocate with the Syrian Platform for Non-Governmental Organizations, said the Kurdish ambitions in Syria are premature, however.
"There is sympathy with them for being arrested and there are questions about the manner in which they were detained and its legality," he said. "But there is clearly no support for the political position they took and even other Kurdish groups are angry with them."