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KURDWATCH, March 28 2015—On March 26, 2015, Turkish soldiers at a border crossing point near the city of ad‑Darbasiyah opened fire on refugees who were trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border illegally. Seventeen-year-old Husain Muhammad Ose (b. in ad‑Darbaisyah) was killed.

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KURDWATCH, March 28 2015—Disagreements arose in connection with the burial of the victims of the attacks during Newroz festivities in al‑Hasakah [further information]. Originally the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) and the Kurdish National Council planned to organize the ceremony together. In a press release on March 23, however, the Kurdish National Council reported that it was withdrawing the speech it had planned for the burial, since TEV‑DEM was not allowing the coffins to be covered with Kurdish flags. The statement further criticized the fact that TEV‑DEM was also allowing representatives of the transitional administration and the Kurdish Decision-making Body a right to speak. Originally it had been agreed that only the Kurdish National Council and TEV‑DEM would speak at the funeral service. The additional speakers resulted in a clear predominance of organizations that are dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, March 28, 2015—On March 20, 2015, at least fifty-two people were killed in attacks during Newroz festivities in al‑Hasakah. A vehicle exploded at a Kurdish National Council celebration in the district of al‑Mufti. According to activists, there was a second explosion shortly thereafter. Originally there were reports that prior to this seven people had been killed in an explosion at a event organized by the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) in the same district. Later activists explained that there had only been a loud bang, after which several participants fled in panic and were later killed at the nearby Kurdish National Council event.
It is not yet clear who is responsible for the attacks. A local Islamic State (IS) group in ar‑Raqqah claimed responsibility for the attacks, but several activists doubt this. They claim that the attack was not a suicide bombing, and the vehicle that exploded was at the celebration from the beginning. They presume that the Syrian regime is behind the attack and suspect that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was informed in advance. Prior to the attack in al Hasakah, the PYD had prohibited all Newroz festivities planned for 21. March in the Jazirah.

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KURDWATCH, March 26, 2015—On March 16, 2015, the Supreme Election Commission announced voter turnout for the local elections held on March 13, 2015 at a press conference in ʿAmudah. The Supreme Election Commission is governed by the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). More than one hundred thousand eligible voters reportedly cast a ballot, turnout was given at fifty per cent. The names of the successful candidates were read aloud. KurdWatch has not been able to find out whether the election results will be made public.
In the absence of independent election observers, even the voter turnout figures cannot be verified. Election workers and election observers were employees of the PYD-appointed transitional administration. According to information from the Supreme Election Commission, national and international election observers also participated in counting the votes. However, all that is known is that sixteen election observers from the Kurdish regions of Turkey took part. Moreover, there is no reliable information about current population numbers for al‑Hasakah province. Prior to the beginning of the civil war, the population was estimated at 1.4 million residents. Since then at least two hundred fifty thousand Kurds have left the province for Turkey, Iraqi-Kurdistan, and Europe. These people had no opportunity to take part in the elections. The elections also had other serious shortcomings. Armed fighters were present in some polling places; the PYD flag was hung in others. Illiterate people who wanted to participate in the elections were not allowed to bring their own assistant into the voting booth. Instead they were assigned an election worker. On the day of the election, several candidates were still campaigning in front of the polling places.
According to a new decree by the Supreme Election Commission, it is possible to file an objection against the way in which the elections were carried out. In order to do so, however, a deposit of one hundred thousand Syrian lira (approximately four hundred fifty euro) is required. If the Court of Cassation rejects the objection, the complainant does not receive his money back. Obviously this regulation is intended to prevent people from filing objections. Yet as the PYD has established its own jurisdiction, even the Courts of Cassation do not represent an independent decision-making body.

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KURDWATCH, March 24, 2015—On March 10, 2015, military police returned the body of twenty-three-year-old Sharvan Bozan ʿIsa to his relatives. He was allegedly killed several months ago in the Saidnaya prison, located approximately thirty kilometers north of Damascus. His body showed multiple signs of torture. ʿIsa was a member of the Free Syrian Army and was arrested in Aleppo about a year ago.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2015—On March 12, 2015, skirmishes broke out near Tall Khinzir, twenty kilometers southwest of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Islamic State (IS). Information about the number of victims is not available.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2015—On March 10, 2015, between seventy and one hundred people were able to flee from an Islamic State (IS) prison in the city of al‑Bab, approximately forty kilometers northeast of Aleppo. The majority are fighters for other Syrian-Arab units. In addition, approximately twenty-five fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) are reportedly among the escapees.

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KURDWATCH, March 21 2015—On March 8, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) advanced into territory under the control of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) twenty-five kilometers southeast of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and attacked a checkpoint near the village of Hulaqi. Several village residents were killed in the attack. The YPG had forced the residents to set up the checkpoint in order to fend off a new advance by the IS.

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KURDWATCH, March 20, 2015—On March 12, 2015, the Kurdish National Council decided to »completely discontinue work in the Kurdish Decision-making Body and all of its committees«. This was justified on the grounds that the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) has refused to postpone the elections planned for March 13, for a few months. The Kurdish National Council believes that the fundamental issues between the National Council and TEV‑DEM or rather the Democratic Union Party (PYD) should be resolved before elections take place.

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KURDWATCH, March 17, 2015—On March 6, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) expelled fighters for the Islamic State (IS) from the strategically important village of ash‑Shuyukh, thirty kilometers west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The PYD thus controls all of the territory between ʿAyn al‑ʿArab and the Euphrates. IS‑fighters destroyed a bridge across the Euphrates to hinder the advance of the YPG.

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New interview:
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.

[Read more]

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