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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].

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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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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2014 – On September 26, 2014, several missiles again hit various residential districts in al‑Qamishli. There were no injuries or fatalities. Thus far no group has claimed responsibility for the shelling.

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2014—On September 26, 2014, Turkish border soldiers near ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) opened fire on a group of refugees who were attempting to illegally cross the border between Syria and Turkey. Muhyiddin Saʿid Hibbu and Mazlum Saʿid Hibbu were killed, and five additional people were injured. Those killed had been trying to bring their herd of sheep to safety in Turkey ahead of the attack by the Islamic State (IS) [further information].

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2014—On September 17, 2014, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), closed the office of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria on the grounds that the Progressive Party had not applied for authorization with the transitional administration of the canton of ʿAfrin. The parties of the Kurdish National Council, of which the Progressive Party is a member, do not recognize the PYD-appointed transitional administration.

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2014—On September 23, 2014, the Kurdish National Council organized a demonstration in al‑Qamishli against the attack by the Islamic State (IS) on ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Approximately two thousand people took part in the rally. That same day, approximately two hundred people in al‑Hasakah protested against the Islamic State; the previous day around two hundred people also protested in ad‑Darbasiyah. The Kurdish National Council and various youth movements organized both rallies. On September 24, several hundred people took part in a demonstration in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), which was also organized by the Kurdish National Council. A similar demonstration on September 25 in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) with roughly two hundred participants was co-organized by the Kurdish Youth Movement and the Kurdish National Council.

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2014—On September 7, 2014, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped a leading member of the Kurdish Youth Movement in ʿAfrin. The Asayiş justified the kidnapping of Jangiz Khalil (b. 1973, married, two children) on the grounds that he »diminished the reputation of the Asayiş«. Khalil was released eight days later.

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KURDWATCH, September 27, 2014—In mid September 2014, the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), issued a form for applying for a temporary residence permit. The document is intended for Syrians who have fled to the Kurdish regions as the result of the civil war. Among other things, the document requires the name of a sponsor. Already at the end of August, newcomers in the city of al‑Jawadiyah were asked to apply for a residence permit and provide a sponsor [further information]. The measure underscores the PYD’s claim to exercise state power.

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KURDWATCH, September 27, 2014—In early September 2014, the management of a bakery in al‑Qamishli controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) released thirty-five bread vendors. The bakery supplies all districts in the eastern part of the city. One of the dismissed vendors told KurdWatch: »Management claimed that the bakery was receiving too little flour and therefore had to dismiss us. But that’s not true. We know that they replaced us with PYD supporters.« Alongside various small bakeries, there are two modern, large-scale bakeries in al‑Qamishli that meet more than half of the demand for the entire city. One is controlled by the PYD, the other by the regime.

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KURDWATCH, September 24, 2014—Since September 19, 2014, more than one hundred thousand people from the city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and the surrounding villages have fled to Turkey due to the advance of the Islamic State (IS). According to KurdWatch information, by the evening of September 19, the Islamic State had captured and partially destroyed more than one hundred villages in the region. Until September 20, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were fighting on only one front in the east of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. Since the morning of September 22, fighting is reportedly taking place on three fronts: eight kilometers to the west, ten kilometers to the east, and twelve kilometers to the south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. Around three hundred fighters for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) reportedly came from Turkey on September 21 and are supporting the YPG. In addition, YPG fighters are said to have been trying since September 21 to reach ʿAyn al‑ʿArab from Raʿs al‑ʿAin (Serê Kaniyê). It is unclear why the IS has not been able to advance into the city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. According to eyewitness reports, the YPG had withdrawn from the city so that it would have been easy to capture.
Irritations arose on September 19, shortly after Turkey opened the official border crossing in ʿAyn al‑Arab, YPG‑fighters prevented refugees from crossing the border there. A short time later, however, the Turkish government opened several unofficial border points. The official border crossing was blockaded by the YPG until at least September 21.

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2014—On September 14, and 15, 2014, negotiations took place once again [further information] between armed units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamic State (IS) on one side and the regime and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on the other. Both sides agreed to end the fighting. Eyewitnesses report that FSA and IS units subsequently withdrew from Ghuwayran. Syrian units were then able to take the district without any resistance.

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2014—According to information from the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), the YPG has freed nineteen Arab villages between al‑Qamishli and Tall Hamis, located forty kilometers to the south. The villages, which were under the control of the Islamic State, were freed between September 13, and 16,  2014. Four YPG‑fighters were allegedly killed in the fighting. However, Arab activists have accused the YPG of killing several dozen civilians in the attacks. The National Coalition has condemned the YPG attacks.

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2014—On September 9, 2014, employees of the transitional administration in the canton of Jazirah, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), demanded that residents in al-Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) pay a fixed rate of five hundred Syrian lira per household for the supply of water for the past two months. The water supply is controlled by the PYD.

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