KurdWatch
Newsletter - June 30, 2016

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New document: Press Law for the Jazirah Canton

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On December 19, 2015, the legislative council for the Jazirah Canton, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), passed a press law. The law professes to want to safeguard the freedom and independence of the press. However, in reality it limits these freedoms considerably. In democratic societies the press is in principle free. This means, anyone can operate a paper, magazine, radio and television station as well as online publications. Only then, if in the framework of reporting the prevailing law is violated, will independent courts take action. However, the PYD’s press law intends to make all forms of media be registered and all journalists must be accredited before taking up work. The criteria for a media license (also subject to charge) and the accreditation process for journalists remain unclear. In addition, there is a press council whose job it is to comprehensively monitor media reporting to detect violations of the law. The press council is, in such cases, authorized to impose fines and revoke publishing and broadcasting licenses, temporarily or permanently. The entire law can be characterized as showing a fundamental distrust of free press. Moreover it is clear, that the registration processes outlined and the fees introduced serve the goal of boosting PYD revenue. Consequently, the fines imposed on international media are significantly higher than those on local Syrian media.

[Download PDF]


New document: Memo on forced recruitment in the Kobanî Canton

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—Already on June 13, 2014, the legislative council for the Jazirah Canton, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), passed a law on compulsory military service [download law]. The law provides that every family offers a »volunteer« between the ages of eighteen and thirty to serve for six months in the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Kurds in Jazirah who do not fulfill this obligation will be forcibly recruited. Subsequently, forced military recruitment was also introduced in ʿAfrin and also now in the last of the PYD administered »cantons« ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The document published here calls on people born between 1986 and 1998 until June 20, 2016 to make themselves known to their responsible recruitment centers. Otherwise there will be legal consequences. It is assumed, as was the case in Jazirah and in ʿAfrin, that the »regular« compulsory service will primarily concern male Kurds. However, among the minors recruited irregularly there are also numerous girls and young women [download interview with Nurman Ibrahim Khalifa]. Comprehensive military forced recruitment is interesting mainly because it is the first time that Kurdish groups does not rely on volunteer fighters. This might point to the fact that the PYD and its militia, the People’s Defense Units, does not hold widespread support among the Syrian-Kurdish population. Along these lines, the numbers [further information] show that more than fifty per cent of the YPG fighters are not from Syria bur rather from Turkey. [Download PDF]


ʿAmudah: PYD abducts politburo member of the PDK‑S

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 27, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted ʿAbdulkarim Muhammad in ʿAmudah in the middle of the street. The politburo member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) had recently participated in a demonstration to commemorate the victims of an attack of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) on protestors at a demonstration in 2013 [further information].


ʿAmudah: Kurdish National Council commemorates the victims of 2013 YPG attack

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 27, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah held a demonstration to remember the victims of an attack carried out by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on June 27, 2013 at a demonstration [further information]. Around one thousand gathered in the city center and marched in the direction of ʿAmudah’s cemetery. At the cemetery, representatives of the Kurdish National Council as well as the victims’ families held speeches in which they demanded the clarification of fact and that the YPG attack be named as a crime. The event proceeded without incident.


ʿAyn al ʿArab: Turkish Army again fires at YPG-positions

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—In the night of June 24 to 25, 2016, the Turkish army fired ground‑to‑ground missiles at several positions of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Information on any victims on the side of the YPG fighters was not provided. 


Al-Malikiyah: Abduction of a PDK-S member

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 12, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted Rizgar Muhammad Saʿid, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his house in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Thus far there is nothing known about why he was abducted.


ʿAmudah: Yekîtî member free again

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 22, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released ʿAbdulmuhsin Khalaf. Khalaf is a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). The Asayiş kidnapped him on May 28 in ʿAmudah along with two other members of the party [further information]. Both his fellow party members are still being detained by the Asayiş. Khalaf was accused of participating in an unauthorized demonstration.


Ash-Shaddadi: IS attacks YPG

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 25, 2016, fighters of the Iaslamic State (IS) tried to advance in the direction of ash‑Shaddadi, fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah, an area controlled by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). YPG positions were attacked with heavy weaponry. At least two YPG fighters were killed near Khirbat al‑Malihah, roughly thirty kilometers southwest of ash‑Shaddadi. Any information on those injured was not available.


New interview:
Ibrahim Biro, chairman of the Kurdish National Council in Syria: »Like the Baʿth Party, the PYD is afraid of democracy.«

KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—Ibrahim Biro, b. 1965, is the secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). Since July 1, 2015 he is also the chairman of the Kurdish National Council in Syria, an organization of eleven Syrian-Kurdish parties, the Yazidi council, various women’s and youth organizations, as well as independent individuals. Ibrahim Biro talks to KurdWatch about the difficult relationship to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Islamic State (IS) and the future of Syria’s Kurds.

[Read more] 


Al-Malikiyah: Another member of PDK-S abducted

KurdWatch, June 29, 2016—On June 16, 2016, Jasim Muhammad Bali was kidnapped at a checkpoint of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), close to the village of Khan Sari near al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Thus far there is no information about why this member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) was abducted. Already one day earlier another member of the PDK‑S was abducted at the same checkpoint [further information].


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