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.
Shamsah Husayn ʿAntar, teacher:
»When we witness sexual assaults, we find the perpetrator and beat him severely«
KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—Shamsah Husayn ʿAntar was born in 1967 in ʿAmudah and currently lives in al‑Qamishli. She is trained as a child educator and has been working as a teacher for twenty-three years. ʿAntar speaks about the sexual abuse of women and children, which she believes has been on the rise in recent years in the Kurdish regions. The interview reveals the helplessness of educators, teachers, and parents in facing sexual violence, a lack of institutions and NGOs willing to address this issue, and the desolate situation in schools in Syrian-Kurdistan four years after the beginning of the Syrian revolution.
Roniyar Hadjji, activist:
»His exact words to me were that if I were arrested again, I would disappear forever«
KURDWATCH, July 31, 2015—Roniyar Hajji was born in 1981 in Halincê, a village near ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). His family later moved to Aleppo, where Hajji went to school. His father, who is also known as a poet under the pen name Dilsoz, was one of the first people in Aleppo to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). When he began to criticize the politics of the PKK and Abdullah Öcalan, whom he knew personally, the PKK planned his assassination. Moreover, his son Roniyar was supposed to be kidnapped, but the PKK accidentally picked up a classmate instead. The family subsequently left Aleppo for Damascus in 2000. Roniyar Hajji tells of the beginnings of the revolution in the Syrian capital and his problems with the PKK.
Nurman Ibrahim Khalifah, Student:
»They told her: ›This PKK bullet is too good for you!‹ and shot her in the head«
KURDWATCH, May 30, 2015—Nurman Ibrahim Khalifah, b. 2001 in al-Hasakah, was thirteen years old and a ninth-grader when she was kidnapped by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and brought to a PKK military camp in Iraqi-Kurdistan, where she was to be trained as a guerilla fighter. After a month and a half, she was able to escape. Since the PYD has assumed power in Syrian-Kurdistan, minors have frequently been kidnapped or recruited against their parents’ will and deployed to the front lines. Nurman Ibrahim Khalifah is the first victim to speak about her experiences in an interview with KurdWatch. She is currently living in hiding in Europe.
Ahmad Mustafa, former member of the dissident Youth Movement of Aleppo:
»I wish that international human rights organizations would put pressure on the PYD so that they would return my son to me«
KURDWATCH, Februar 4, 2015—At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, Ahmad Muhammad Mustafa, b. 1977 in Khaltan near ʿAfrin, became involved with the dissident Youth Movement of Aleppo. To punish him, the PKK had his wife murdered and kidnapped his son. To this day, Ahmad Mustafa is wanted by the PKK. He has been living abroad since 2013.
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.
Mahmud an‑Nasir, former Syrian intelligence officer from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn:
»The Syrian regime’s crisis center gave the PKK instructions to murder Kurdish politicians, and the PKK carried them out«
KURDWATCH, May 18, 2014—Mahmud an‑Nasir (known as Abu Haris), b. 1962, married, six children, was employed by the General Security Directorate [also known as State Security]. He was responsible for the departments in office no. 330. In the eighties and nineties, he participated in several security training courses in allied countries. He worked in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn in the State Security’s Office for Parties no. 30, then in the data department until he broke with the regime in November 2011.
Jigarkhwin ʿAbdurrazzaq Mula Ahmad: activist and former inmate of Aleppo’s central prison:
»They used us as human shields«
KURDWATCH, March 18, 2014—Jigarkhwin ʿAbdurrazzaq Mula Ahmad (b. 1985 in al~Qamishli) is a student and activist. He was arrested on March 3, 2012 in Aleppo and was released on bail on October 13, 2013 at the petition of his attorney. A trial against him is still pending. He spent several months of his imprisonment in Aleppo’s central prison. There he witnessed how dozens of fellow prisoners died of starvation or were killed by torture or military attacks.
Salih Muslim Muhammad, chairman of the PYD:
»We are free and independent, and we are pursuing our own strategy«
KURDWATCH, June 4, 2013—Salih Muslim Muhammad (b. 1951, chemical engineer, married, five children) has been chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the PKK, since 2010. In a conversation with KurdWatch he commented, among other things, on the relationship between the PYD and the Syrian regime.
Usama Sulayman Mansur Hilali, Commander of the Mishʿal‑at‑Tammu‑Brigade:
»I went from water carrier to weapon carrier«
KURDWATCH, March 26, 2013—Usama Sulayman Mansur Hilali (b. 1979 in al‑Qamishli) went to school until the ninth grade. He lived in Saudi Arabia for awhile before returning to al‑Qamishli seven years ago and opening an art supply store near the Qasimo mosque. Hilali was among the first activists to organize demonstrations in the Kurdish regions. He is the founder and commander of the Mishʿal‑at‑Tammu‑Brigade, which is armed in the struggle against the government.
Faisal Yusuf, Chairman of the Kurdish National Council:
»Sometimes things are demanded of the Council that only a government could accomplish«
KURDWATCH, December 28, 2012—Faisal Yusuf (b. 1954 in al‑Qamishli) has been chairman of the Kurdish National Council since 14. August 2012. In the early 1970s, he became a member of the Kurdish Democratic Advancement Party in Syria, later he was in the party's politburo. In February 2010, he left the Advancement Party and with a group of supporters founded the Kurdish Democratic Advancement Party in Syria—Reform Movement, of which he is the chairman. Yusuf spoke with KurdWatch about the Kurdish National Council joining the National Alliance, as well as about its relationship to the People's Council of West Kurdistan.
ʿAbdussalam ʿUthman, politician and activist:
»Khabat Derki kidnapped me, he held a gun to my head«
KURDWATCH, December 25, 2012—ʿAbdussalam ʿUthman (b. 1977), is a founding member of the Union of Cooperation of Kurdish Youth in Syria and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. The activist, who has been suffering from polio since the age of five, fled Syria after being threatened by the PKK. After several months in Istanbul, he ultimately received political asylum in Germany. In a conversation with KurdWatch, he spoke about the current situation of the coordinating groups in the Kurdish regions and about his abduction by the PKK.
Mustafa Jumʿa, Kurdish politician:
»The PYD has weapons and we don't. They will kill us all.«
KURDWATCH, August 16, 2012—Mustafa Jumʿa (b. 1947 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî]) is Vice President of the Kurdish National Council and Secretary of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî). On June 24, 2012, he was kidnapped by members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD); since his release, he has been living in Iraqi-Kurdistan. This interview, in which he speaks in particularl about his party's relationship to the PYD, was conducted a few days before his kidnapping.
Zahida Rashkilo, Kurdish politician:
»They said that they and eleven other Kurdish parties would liquidate Mischʿal at‑Tammu«
KURDWATCH, June 15, 2012—Zahida Rashkilo (b. 1966) is a member of the Office of General Communications for the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. She spoke with KurdWatch about the assassination of Mishʿal at‑Tammu, during which she too was seriously injured.This is the first interview in which the Kurdish politician, who is currently in Germany for medical treatment, has spoken about the exact circumstances of the assassination.
Salih Gado, member of the politburo of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria:
»Some Kurdish parties are coming up with lots of excuses to avoid joining the Syrian National Council. The truth is they are still afraid of the regime«
KURDWATCH, April 18, 2012—Salih Gado (b. 1946, married, six children), is a member of the politburo of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria and lives in al‑Qamishli. In a conversation with KurdWatch, he comments on the current situation in the Kurdish regions and, in particular, on the Kurdish Patriotic Conference's relationship to the Syrian National Council.
Azad Muhiyuddin, member of the Movement of the Youth in the West:
»The Kurdish Patriotic Conference is nothing more than a name. Compared to the PYD it has accomplished nothing«
KURDWATCH, March 21, 2012—Azad Muhiyuddin* (b. 1981) is a member of the Movement of the Youth in the West and lives in al‑Qamishli. In a conversation with KurdWatch, he comments on the current situation in the Jazirah and on the politics of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in particular.
Rezan Bahri Shaykhmus, Chairman of the Kurdish Future Movement's Office of General Communications:
»While a people's revolution is taking place throughout Syria, the Kurdish Patriotic Conference is arguing and struggling over money«
KURDWATCH, January 19, 2012—Rezan Bahri Shaykhmus (b. 1962, married, four children) is the chairman of the Kurdish Future Movement's Office of General Communications. The engineer lives in Syria. In a conversation with KurdWatch, Shaykhmus speaks about the Future Movement's political work following the death of its speaker Mishʿal at-Tammu.
Zuhayr Salim, Speaker of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria:
»To hell with Syrian [identity]! We do not recognize Syria«
KURDWATCH, December 4, 2011—Zuhayr Salim (b. 1947) is a writer and lives in London. In an interview with KurdWatch, the speaker of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood speaks out about the Kurdish question in Syria.
Dr. ʿAbdulbasit Sayda, member of the Executive Committee of the Syrian National Council:
»There is no agreement between the Syrian National Council and the Turkish government«
KURDWATCH, November 18, 2011—Dr. ʿAbdulbasit Sayda (b. 1956, doctorate in philosophy, married, four children) has been living in exile in Sweden since 1994. In 2003 his book »The Kurdish Question in Syria« was published. In a conversation with KURDWATCH ʿAbdulbasit Sayda spoke about the work of the Syrian National Council, an oppositional coalition that was founded in Istanbul on October 2, 2011.
Salih Muslim Muhammad, chairman of the PYD:
»Turkey's henchmen in Syrian Kurdistan are responsible for the unrest here«
KURDWATCH, November 8, 2011—Salih Muslim Muhammad (b. 1951, chemical engineer, married, five children) has been chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the PKK, since 2010. Out of fear of political persecution, he fled to Iraq in 2010, where he stayed at a PYD camp in the Gare Mountains. After the dissident protests began, he returned to Syria along with other PYD members. The day after his arrival, he took part in a PYD rally in al-Qamishli. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, Salih Muslim Muhammad speaks out about the PYD's role within the Syrian revolution and about its activities in Syria.
Ismaʿil Hami, Secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî):
»Our goal is the self-government of the Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan«
KURDWATCH, September 17, 2011—Ismaʿil Hami (b. 1964) is a founding member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), which was established in 1999. Since 2010 he has been the Party's secretary. He lives in al-Qamishli. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, Hami speaks about his Party's role in the Syrian revolution and about the Kurdish Patriotic Movement's relationship to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria.
Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim, Chairman of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change:
»The Kurds have the right to their national dream«
KURDWATCH, August 19, 2011—Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim (b. 1932) is chairman of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union Party and the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change, which was founded on June 30, 2011 in Damascus [KURDWATCH reported]. ʿAbdulʿazim is an attorney and lives in Damascus. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, he outlines approaches to resolving the Kurdish question in Syria.
Samir Nashar, Spokesman for the Damascus Declaration:
»The Kurds must receive the same rights as everyone else«
KURDWATCH, August 12, 2011—Samir Nashar (b. 1945) is chairman of the Secretariat General and spokesman for The Damascus Declaration for National Democratic Change, which was founded in October 2005 in Damascus. Nashar is a merchant and lives in Aleppo. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, he sketches approaches to solving the Kurdish question in Syria.
Mishʿal at-Tammu, Kurdish politician:
»All of our actions should be aimed at the fall of the regime«
KURDWATCH, July 20, 2011—Mishʿal at-Tammu (b. 1957) in conversation with KURDWATCH on the role of the Kurdish opposition in the revolution.
Jan Qamishloki, Kurdish activist:
»Most demonstrators do not pray«
KURDWATCH, June 29, 2011—In an interview with KURDWATCH, the 32-year-old Kurdish activist Jan Qmishloki explains how the dissident demonstrations in the Kurdish regions are organized.