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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2015—In early March 2015, the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), opened its own registry offices. The offices bear the designation »Office for the Contract of Family Life«. They are issuing family registers that bear the designation »Contract of Family Life«. According to these documents, men are only allowed to marry one woman, not four, as is currently possible under Syrian law. Among other things, the distribution of aid supplies is to be based solely on the new family registers. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, the PYD hopes to thus encourage all families to exchange their old family registers for new ones. This will allow the PYD to collect exact information about family composition and thus about potential recruits. So far the PYD has not had access to this information as the central recruiting authority in al‑Hassakah remains under regime control.

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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2015—Following the withdrawal of the Kurdish National Council [further information], the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) and the three parties expelled from the Kurdish National Council [further information] held a meeting of the Kurdish Decision-making Body on 26. March 2015. Only thirteen of the original thirty-six members were present (five independent members, five members of TEV‑DEM, and representatives of the three parties expelled from the Kurdish National Council). In a statement, the assembled members conceded that they did not have the 75seventy-five per cent needed to constitute a quorum. They called on the Kurdish National Council to resume cooperation. In contrast, Aldar Khalil, a member of TEV‑DEM’s executive committee, stated in an interview that since the Kurdish National Council’s withdrawal, a quorum is no longer based on the original thirty-six seats, but instead on the remaining twenty-one seats. According to Khalil, the thirteen members who were present would therefore constitute the necessary quorum. Apart from the fact that this statement is arithmetically incorrect, it raises the question of what the function of the Kurdish Decision-making Body should be in the absence of the Kurdish National Council’s cooperation. The Decision-making Body was founded as the result of negotiations in October 2014 that sought to renew efforts at cooperation between the National Council and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information].

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2015—On March 25, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a Newroz celebration in ʿAfrin. It is the only Newroz celebration to take place in the Kurdish regions following the attacks in al‑Hasakah [further information]. Approximately ten thousand people took part in the event. All other Kurdish parties had cancelled their public Newroz festivities due to the attacks.

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2015—On March 14 and 18  2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). The recruitment took place at several checkpoints in al‑Qamishli and ʿAmudah. The men were brought to a YPG recruitment camp where they must do six months of compulsory service. Exact information about the number of people affected is not available.

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KURDWATCH, March 28 2015—On March 26, 2015, Turkish soldiers at a border crossing point near the city of ad‑Darbasiyah opened fire on refugees who were trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border illegally. Seventeen-year-old Husain Muhammad Ose (b. in ad‑Darbaisyah) was killed.

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KURDWATCH, March 28 2015—Disagreements arose in connection with the burial of the victims of the attacks during Newroz festivities in al‑Hasakah [further information]. Originally the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) and the Kurdish National Council planned to organize the ceremony together. In a press release on March 23, however, the Kurdish National Council reported that it was withdrawing the speech it had planned for the burial, since TEV‑DEM was not allowing the coffins to be covered with Kurdish flags. The statement further criticized the fact that TEV‑DEM was also allowing representatives of the transitional administration and the Kurdish Decision-making Body a right to speak. Originally it had been agreed that only the Kurdish National Council and TEV‑DEM would speak at the funeral service. The additional speakers resulted in a clear predominance of organizations that are dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, March 28, 2015—On March 20, 2015, at least fifty-two people were killed in attacks during Newroz festivities in al‑Hasakah. A vehicle exploded at a Kurdish National Council celebration in the district of al‑Mufti. According to activists, there was a second explosion shortly thereafter. Originally there were reports that prior to this seven people had been killed in an explosion at a event organized by the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) in the same district. Later activists explained that there had only been a loud bang, after which several participants fled in panic and were later killed at the nearby Kurdish National Council event.
It is not yet clear who is responsible for the attacks. A local Islamic State (IS) group in ar‑Raqqah claimed responsibility for the attacks, but several activists doubt this. They claim that the attack was not a suicide bombing, and the vehicle that exploded was at the celebration from the beginning. They presume that the Syrian regime is behind the attack and suspect that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was informed in advance. Prior to the attack in al Hasakah, the PYD had prohibited all Newroz festivities planned for 21. March in the Jazirah.

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KURDWATCH, March 26, 2015—On March 16, 2015, the Supreme Election Commission announced voter turnout for the local elections held on March 13, 2015 at a press conference in ʿAmudah. The Supreme Election Commission is governed by the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). More than one hundred thousand eligible voters reportedly cast a ballot, turnout was given at fifty per cent. The names of the successful candidates were read aloud. KurdWatch has not been able to find out whether the election results will be made public.
In the absence of independent election observers, even the voter turnout figures cannot be verified. Election workers and election observers were employees of the PYD-appointed transitional administration. According to information from the Supreme Election Commission, national and international election observers also participated in counting the votes. However, all that is known is that sixteen election observers from the Kurdish regions of Turkey took part. Moreover, there is no reliable information about current population numbers for al‑Hasakah province. Prior to the beginning of the civil war, the population was estimated at 1.4 million residents. Since then at least two hundred fifty thousand Kurds have left the province for Turkey, Iraqi-Kurdistan, and Europe. These people had no opportunity to take part in the elections. The elections also had other serious shortcomings. Armed fighters were present in some polling places; the PYD flag was hung in others. Illiterate people who wanted to participate in the elections were not allowed to bring their own assistant into the voting booth. Instead they were assigned an election worker. On the day of the election, several candidates were still campaigning in front of the polling places.
According to a new decree by the Supreme Election Commission, it is possible to file an objection against the way in which the elections were carried out. In order to do so, however, a deposit of one hundred thousand Syrian lira (approximately four hundred fifty euro) is required. If the Court of Cassation rejects the objection, the complainant does not receive his money back. Obviously this regulation is intended to prevent people from filing objections. Yet as the PYD has established its own jurisdiction, even the Courts of Cassation do not represent an independent decision-making body.

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KURDWATCH, March 24, 2015—On March 10, 2015, military police returned the body of twenty-three-year-old Sharvan Bozan ʿIsa to his relatives. He was allegedly killed several months ago in the Saidnaya prison, located approximately thirty kilometers north of Damascus. His body showed multiple signs of torture. ʿIsa was a member of the Free Syrian Army and was arrested in Aleppo about a year ago.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2015—On March 12, 2015, skirmishes broke out near Tall Khinzir, twenty kilometers southwest of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Islamic State (IS). Information about the number of victims is not available.

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New interview:
Ahmad Mustafa, former member of the dissident Youth Movement of Aleppo: »I wish that international human rights organizations would put pressure on the PYD so that they would return my son to me«

KURDWATCH, Februar 4, 2015—At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, Ahmad Muhammad Mustafa, b. 1977 in Khaltan near ʿAfrin, became involved with the dissident Youth Movement of Aleppo. To punish him, the PKK had his wife murdered and kidnapped his son. To this day, Ahmad Mustafa is wanted by the PKK. He has been living abroad since 2013.

[Read more]

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