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KURDWATCH, July 29, 2015—On July 25, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to expel Islamic State (IS) fighters from the relatively large district of an‑Nashwah in al‑Hasakah. On the same day, smaller skirmishes between YPG fighters and Syrian army soldiers took place in the center of the city. The army had asked the YPG‑fighters to turn over a hospital building. Yet, they did not comply with this request.

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KURDWATCH, July 29, 2015—On July 21, 2015, the Commission on Party Affairs for the transitional administration in the canton of ʿAfrin, appointed by the Democratic Union Party, approved an application submitted by Muhyiddin Shaykh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî). The party is considered to have close ties to the PYD and had applied for authorization from the Commission in accordance with the Law on Political Parties enacted by the transitional administration [further information]. In contrast, the member parties of the Kurdish National Council have refused to apply for authorization from the transitional administration since this would recognize its legitimacy. Among the members of the National Council is a splinter party of the Democratic Yekîtî with the same name, led by Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu. It split from its parent party due to disagreements about the relationship to the PYD among other issues [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 18, 2015, the minor ʿUdula Muhammad Ahmad (b. 2001) joined the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) against her parents’ will. On July 19, 2015, Rohlat Mustafa Jamo (female, b. 1999) and Nizar Ibrahim Jamo (male, b. 1998) also joined the YPG against their parents’ will. All three are from the village of ʿAyn al‑Batt, twenty kilometers southeast of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). On July 19, relatives of the teenagers confronted PYD members living in the same village and blamed them for the recruitment. Since then tensions in the village have been running high.

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 22, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped twelve-year-old Mahmud Muhammad Schaikho (b. on 2. January 2003) from a soccer field in ad‑Darbasiyah. When the boy’s parents demanded his release at an Asayiş station, they were promised that this would happen the following day. The promise was not kept.

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 21, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Muhammad Hasan Shuwaysh, a member of the Kurdish National Council, in front of his home in ʿAmudah. The exact reason for the kidnapping is not known. The Kurdish National Council condemned the kidnapping in a statement.

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 21, 2015, a serious explosion occurred at a site in Rumaylan, one that the Syrian government previously used for military purposes. It is believed that the explosion involved an ammunition depot belonging to the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). At least four YPG fighters were killed and others were injured. There is no information available regarding the cause of the explosion.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2015—On July 20, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped seventy-year-old Khadijah Kale from her home in al‑Qamishli. A few days prior, Kale had complained at a PYD People’s House about an interruption to the power supply. A verbal confrontation between Kale, an employee of the People’s House, and three cadres for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) reportedly ensued. The activists allegedly later complained about Kale to the Asayiş.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2015—On July 19, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the territories between Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan) west of al‑Hasakah and the region south of the city, which was already under their control [further information]. The YPG now controls all of the territories surrounding the city of al‑Hasakah. The Islamic State (IS) is still in control of several districts in the city. The Syrian Armed Forces, in particular the Air Force, as well as Arab militias with close ties to the regime are also fighting against the IS in al‑Hasakah, but have not yet reported any successes.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2015—On July 18, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Khalaf Ahmad Husayn, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his home in al‑Hasakah. Husayn was released on 19. July. He told KurdWatch: »They accused me of being against the PYD. When they kidnapped me during the night, the Asayiş were very aggressive. They ransacked my house and frightened my children. But when I was in the prison, they were nicer to me«.

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KURDWATCH, July 21, 2015—On July 15, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed the home of Asʿad Ibrahim Yasin, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), in al‑Hasakah and beat him in front of his children. They then kidnapped him and his teenage son Ibrahim (b. 1998). Only a few days earlier, his son had been detained at an Asayiş checkpoint for wearing a peshmerga uniform. He had tried to join the Rojava Peshmerga in Iraqi-Kurdistan, however he was rejected because of his age, and he subsequently returned to Syria.

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New document:
Requirements for candidacy and voting in the municipal elections in March 2015

KURDWATCH, July 12, 2015—On March 13, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) carried out municipal elections in the canton of Jazirah. More than one hundred thousand eligible voters reportedly cast their votes. Voter turnout was given as fifty percent. KurdWatch is releasing the requirements for candidacy and voting published by the PYD‑affiliated Hawar news agency.
The first striking feature of the document is that the wording is frequently unclear. Essential provisions also run contrary to democratic principles. In other words, regardless of how the elections are actually carried out, these provisions point to significant shortcomings. For example, it remains unclear how the members of the committees that supervise the polling places in an electoral district are selected. The context suggests that they are employees of the PYD-appointed transitional administration. As the document makes clear, all of the election observers at the polling places are also employees of this administration. This is problematic, especially because these employees are almost exclusively PYD sympathizers. People who are critical of the PYD do not have a chance of being accepted into the administration. Thus none of the organizers at the polling places are politically independent. The fact that the candidates are allowed to have representatives present at the counting of the votes has but a limited impact on this, since only candidates of the PYD and the parties affiliated with it took part in the elections. Moreover, it remains unclear what exactly the roles of the election observers and the representatives of the candidates are. The document gives no indication of their responsibilities and rights.
The possibility of filing an objection against the counting of the votes must also be evaluated critically. Anyone who doubts the results of the election has the right to file an objection with the appellate court in al‑Qamishli by way of the Election Commission. A receipt for a deposit of 100 000 Syrian lira must be enclosed. If the objection is accepted and decided in favor of the petitioner, the amount deposited will be returned to the depositor. Otherwise the amount is retained. At the time of the elections on March 13, 2015, 100 000 Syrian liras were equivalent to about 450 euros. That is more than one and a half times the monthly salary of an elementary school teacher in Syria. As the money is lost if the objection is overruled, the high amount is clearly intended to ensure that objections are never filed.
The procedure for announcing the election results also lacks transparency: The published election provisions only provide for announcing the names of the successful candidates in the individual polling places. That means that merely reading the names could be sufficient. A generally accessible written announcement of the election results, including the votes received by the individual candidates, is not mandatory. In fact, KurdWatch could not find a written announcement of the election results.

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