KurdWatch
Newsletter - July 04, 2014

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Al-Hasakah: Requirements for opening an internet café

KURDWATCH, July 3, 2014—The attached document is a form issued by the local council of al‑Hasakah, a body of the PYD‑appointed local administration in the Jazirah. It governs the requirements for opening and operating internet cafés and must be filled out by the operators of these cafes. The document makes clear that for the Democratic Union Party (PYD), like the Baʿth regime, access to information is first and foremost connected to control, not to ensuring freedom of information. For one, the approval of an internet café is tied to the approval by the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD. From the point of view of the PYD, the approval of an internet café is not a simple administrative act, but a question of security. The fact that users must identify themselves with their identity card and that their names are recorded further speaks to this point. The requirement regarding the installation of devices to receive and send data is ambiguous: It remains unclear exactly which devices require consultation with the authorities.

PDF [download PDF]


Al‑Maʿbada: Air attack on PYD-controlled oil fields

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2013—On June 25, 2014, the Syrian air force bombed an area ten kilometers east of al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) near the oil fields of Tall ʿAdas (Gir Zîro). No damage occurred. The oil fields are operated by the Syrian government and have been protected by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) since January 2013. The background to the bombing is unclear. It may point to differences between the two groups and could be understood as a warning for the PYD from the regime.


Raʾs al-ʿAyn: PYD closes Yekitî party office and kidnaps member of central committee

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2014—On June 25, 2014, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), surrounded the office of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn with about twenty vehicles and demanded the cancellation of an event commemorating the so-called »Arab Belt«. The Syrian government’s »Arab Belt« project planned to deport a total of 140 000 Kurds from 332 villages within a ten to fifteen kilometer-wide zone along the Turkish and Iraqi borders and replace them with Arab settlers. The implementation of the plan, which was passed in 1965, began in 1973. Until 1976 a total of around 25 000 Arab families were settled in the province of al‑Hasakah. The forceful expulsion of the Kurdish population, which resisted the plan, did not take place. The Asayiş explained that the event was banned because the organizers did not have appropriate authorization. When Yekitî members refused to cancel the event, employees of the Asayiş removed the party’s nameplate from the building and closed the office. Badran Misto, a member of the Yekîtî central committee, told KurdWatch: »The Asayiş demanded that I leave the city within twenty-four hours.« Misto did not comply with the demand and was kidnapped from his home in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn on June 27.


Al-Qamishli: Islamists hijack bus

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2014—On June 21, 2014, fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant hijacked a coach bus belonging to the Perwan travel company. The bus was hijacked between al‑Qamishli and al‑Hasakah. There is no information about the fate of the driver or of the two passengers, who are allegedly officers of government troops. All other passengers were released the same day near Tall Birak, forty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli.


Tall Tamr: Asayiş shut down PDK‑S festivities

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2014—On June 26, 2014, numerous members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria gathered in Tall Tamr to inaugurate a new office. Employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), dispersed the gathering in front of the office building on the grounds that the celebration had not been authorized. ʿAbdurrahman ʿAbtan, a member of the local committee of the PDK‑S in Tall Tamr, was detained for several hours.


Al-Qamishli: Teachers arrested and tortured by State Security Service

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2014—On June 19, 2014, employees of the State Security Service in al‑Qamishli arrested Hozan Shaykhmus and Basil Husayn, both teachers. The two had previously visited the education authorities in al‑Qamishli in order to clarify why they had not been paid in three months. They were told that they must report to the State Security Service. When they complied with this request, they were arrested. Both were subject to torture while in custody. Husayn was released two days later; Shaykhmus remains in custody. The teachers are supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S)


Al-Qamishli: No presidential elections in PYD-controlled territories after all

KURDWATCH, June 29, 2014—Contrary to earlier statements [further information], the presidential elections on June 3, 2014 did not take place in mostly Kurdish regions under Democratic Union Party (PYD) control. Polling places were predominantly located in the districts of al‑Hasakah and al‑Qamishli that are controlled by the government. However residents of other cities such as ad‑Darbasiyah and ʿAmudah also voted there. According to KurdWatch’s information, the government was able to register voters in ad‑Darbasiyah without being hindered by the PYD. There were reportedly a total of two polling places in ʿAfrin. It is unclear whether voting took place there. There were no polling places in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). According to unconfirmed information, the PYD closed twenty-six polling places in the city of al‑Hasakah and prevented voting from taking place there. Although the Syrian government controls less than half of Syrian state territory, approximately eleven million (sixty percent) of all eligible voters are said to have cast a ballot. Of those 88.7 percent reportedly voted for Bashar al‑Assad.


Damascus: Recruit missing

KURDWATCH, June 26, 2014—ʿAlaʾuddin Husayn Khalaf (b. 1995 in al‑Qahtaniyah [Tirbesipî]) was drafted into military service on January 1, 2010. In March 2013, he was arrested and imprisoned at the Saydnayah prison approximately thirty kilometers north of Damascus. After an inquiry by his relatives, the prison administration disclosed a few days ago that Khalaf is not in its custody. His relatives received no further information about his whereabouts.


Al-Qamishli: Demonstration against Islamists

KURDWATCH, June 24, 2014—On June 11, 2014, several Kurdish Youth Movement activists demonstrated in al‑Qamishli against the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Iraq. The event took place without incident.


Al-Qahtaniyah: Thirteen dead in bomb attack

KURDWATCH, June 24, 2014—On June 14, 2014, thirteen civilians were killed when a car bomb exploded in front of a gas station in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The reason behind the explosion is not known.


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