Newsletter - October 11, 2014

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ʿAyn al-ʿArab: No civilians left in the city

KURDWATCH, October 10, 2014—There are no civilians left in the city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), which has been under siege by the Islamic State (IS) for several weeks [further information]. The majority of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), which were still present at the beginning of fighting, have also left the city. The fighters are almost entirely PKK combatants. Refugees from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab, who fled to Suruç in Turkey, are accusing the PKK of engaging in a senseless fight since they claim the city cannot be held. A refugee, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of repression, told KurdWatch: »We hope that in the end not only the Islamic State will be defeated, but also the PKK and the PYD. The PYD is complicit in the current situation; from the beginning it cooperated with the Syrian regime«.

Tall Tamr: PYD detains demonstrators

KURDWATCH, October 9, 2014—On October 4, 2014, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), banned and dissolved a demonstration organized by the Kurdish National Council in Tall Tamr. The demonstration was directed against the attack by the Islamic State (IS) on ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Asayiş held Qasim Janan, chairman of the Kurdish National Council’s local committee in Tall Tamr, Kamiran Shaikhu, member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria’s (Yekîtî) local committee in Tall Tamr, Fahd Abu ʿAqid, member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (KDP‑S), as well as Yahya ʿAbdulhadi and Mahmud Sabri, both members of Nasruddin Ibrahim’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) for several hours. They were threatened with expulsion from Syria if they remain politically active.

Al-Maʿbada: PYD recruits child against parents’ wishes

KURDWATCH, October 9, 2014—On September 20, 2014, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) recruited the thirteen-year-old studentʿAli ʿAbdullah ʿAli in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) without his parents’ consent. His family knows the base where he was assigned. Upon his mother’s inquiries, however, the YPG claimed to know nothing of the child’s whereabouts.

Manbij: IS releases another seventy-five students

KURDWATCH, October 9, 2014—On September 30, 2014, fighters for the Islamic State in Manbij released another seventy-five of the students who were kidnapped from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) on May 29, 2014 [further information]. One of those released told KurdWatch: »They just released us from the prison and demanded that we leave the city.« In light of the fighting in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab, some of those released headed for Aleppo and others for the Turkish border. During their captivity in a school, the students were tortured and forced to attend instruction in Islam.

Al‑Yaʿrubiyah: Fighting between IS and YPG

KURDWATCH, October 9, 2014—On September 26, 2014, armed conflicts broke out between the Islamic State (IS) on the one side and the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) as well as the al‑Karamah brigade, which is comprised of Arab tribe members who are loyal to the regime, on the other side. The fighting took place at the Syrian-Iraqi border near al‑Yaʿrubiyah. The Islamic State allegedly captured several villages.

Raʾs al-ʿAyn: PYD releases activist after one month

KURDWATCH, October 6, 2014—On October 1, 2014, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released the activist Muhamad Hasso (b. 1982, married, two children, member of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria) from custody. Hasso was kidnapped on September 5, 2014. He was not tortured.

Raʾs al-ʿAyn: PYD cooperates with Free Syrian Army

KURDWATCH, October 6, 2014—In a press conference on September 27, 2014, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Tahir‑brigade announced the foundation of a joint operations center in the city of Raʾs al‑ʿAin (Serê Kaniyê). The YPG had announced a similar collaboration with FSA‑units west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) on September 10, 2014. Presumably the YPG is seeking ties to the FSA to improve its chances of receiving weapons from the United States. The USA is currently arming the moderate Syrian opposition.

Manbij: Islamic State kidnaps members of the Progressive Party

KURDWATCH, October 4, 2014—On September 8 and 9, 2014, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) stormed several houses in the village of Manbij, eighty kilometers east of Aleppo. At least ten people were kidnapped, including Masu Barkal, Muru Barkal, Khalil Zaitu, Muhammad Shaikhu, Mahmud Shaikhu, Ahmad Masu ʿAbdi, and Muhammad Hamad. Several members of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria were among those kidnapped.

New document: Law on Political Parties for the cantons of Jazirah, Kobanî, and ʿAfrin

KURDWATCH, September 30, 2014—On April 17, 2014, the legislative councils for the transitional administration, appointed by the Democratic Union Party, (PYD), passed a law on political parties for the cantons of Jazirah, Kobanî [ʿAyn al‑ʿArab], and ʿAfrin. The law defines the conditions under which parties can be registered. It sets a period of forty-five days and in that time all parties must apply for authorization. Until now none of the parties of the Kurdish National Council have complied with this demand. Both the Kurdish National Council and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria have rejected the law. In a statement on August 28, 2014, the Kurdish National Council described the law on political parties as the most dangerous of the PYD laws, alongside the law on compulsory military service. Indeed, the law creates a »legal« basis for the persecution of other parties by the PYD. It is particularly problematic that the commissions that authorize the parties are not an objective authority. Instead they are comprised of government representatives from the three cantons. These governments were neither elected nor appointed by a representative delegation of Kurdish parties, but rather originated from the transitional administration established in November 2013 in a manner that was not transparent. According to the PYD, the transitional administration was established by fifty organizations, but these organizations were never made public. The few groups that were named either have close ties to the PYD or are unknown.
The policies defined in the law suggest a democratic procedure. The reality, however, is that the PYD makes decisions about what other parties receive authorization. The PYD’s previous policies vis-à-vis other parties make it clear that it will not authorize any party it sees as serious threat. This fear of competition is made clear in provisions such as the one that no political parties can have any ties to foreign parties. This provision can be used to ban parties like the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), the sister party of Masʿud Barzani’s Iraqi-Kurdish KDP. It can be safely assumed, however, that the PYD will not employ the law to ban itself, even though it is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is based in Turkey.
The provision that parties may not maintain military forces is also telling. What is formulated as a reasonable measure to demilitarize society, is in fact intended to secure a monopoly on the use of force for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) in PYD-controlled areas. If parties do not apply for authorization, the PYD will, with reference to the law, justify the persecution of these groups and their members as a legitimate state act against illegal activities.
[download PDF].

New interview:
Nawaf ʿIsa ʿAli, former correspondent for Kurdistan TV in Sinjar (kurd. Şingal) in Iraq: »The PYD did not fight in Sinjar and it did not save the Yazidis; that is nothing more than propaganda«

KurdWatch, September 30, 2014—Nawaf ʿIsa ʿAli, b. 1978 in Sinjar (Şingal), married, two children, was the Sinjar correspondent for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) station Kurdistan TV from 2007 to July 2014. When the Islamic State (IS) captured Sinjar on August 3, 2014, he was among the last persons still able to leave the region. In an interview with KurdWatch, ʿAli accuses military and political leaders in Sinjar of corruption and serious failures in the fight against the IS. At the same time, he contradicts the claim that the PKK »saved« the Yazidis in Sinjar. Nawaf ʿIsa ʿAli left Iraqi Kurdistan in August 2014 out of fear for his own safety.

[Read more]

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