KURDWATCH NEWSLETTER MARCH 2013 / II
KURDWATCH, March 21, 2013—At eleven o’clock local time on March 12, 2013, hundreds of thousands in the Kurdish regions took part in a minute of silence to mark the ninth anniversary of the »al‑Qamishli Uprising« and remember the victims of 2004. Tens of thousands subsequently participated in demonstrations in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, al‑Hasakah, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), ʿAfrin, Jindiras, Raju, and Aleppo.
Numerous stores remained closed. Members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) organized additional military parades in al‑Malikiyah and ʿAfrin. The demonstrations were peaceful. In all locations, supporters of the Kurdish National Council and the PYD demonstrated separately.
Raju: One dead and several kidnapped following YPG‑attack
KURDWATCH, March 21, 2013—On March 16, 2013, supporters of the Democratic Union (PYD) in Raju (twenty kilometers northwest of ʿAfrin) attacked supporters of the Kurdish National Council. Following a minute of silence to mark the anniversary of the poison gas attack on Halabja (Iraqi-Kurdistan), the Kurdish National Council supporters had chanted slogans celebrating the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Later, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) attacked several homes belonging to the Kurdish Sido family – the family is known for its close ties to ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el-Partî). Shervan ʿAli Sido was killed; Luqman, Barzan, Mustafa Jamal, Muhamad, and Anwar Sido were kidnapped by the YPG.
ʿAfrin: Further kidnappings following YPG‑attacks
KURDWATCH, March 21, 2013—On March 13 and 14. 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) once again attacked several Kurdish villages near ʿAfrin. At least ten people were kidnapped, including members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) and Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party (Azadî). A leading member of the Azadî told KurdWatch: »The Syrian telephone networks haven’t been working in days, Turkish cell phones have no reception here, and the streets are controlled by the YPG. Therefore we cannot say exactly how many people have been kidnapped. The Supreme Kurdish Committee was negotiating between us and the YPG so that those kidnapped on March 8 would be released. With the new kidnappings, the YPG wants to show that there can be no power alongside the YPG.«
Aleppo: Member of Democratic Yekîtî dead after missile attack
KURDWWATCH, March 19, 2013 – Mustafa ʿAbdo ʿIso (b. 1963 in Jindiras, married, five children) was severely wounded in a missile attack on February 26, 2013 in the Shaykh Maqsud district of Aleppo. The member of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) succumbed to his injuries on March 13, 2013.
Al-Qamishli: PYD announces deadline for disarmament
KURDWATCH, March 16, 2013—On March 11, 2013, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service (Asayiş) distributed leaflets in places including al‑Qamishli and ʿAfrin. The leaflets set a deadline for people in the Kurdish areas to apply for a gun license. All weapons must be registered with the Asayiş by March 31 2013. Beginning in April, people who own unregistered weapons will be punished. In addition, gun licenses are only to be provided for light weapons; according to the leaflet, heavy weapons are banned. In some locations, instructions from the Asayiş were announced over the loudspeakers of the mosques.
ʿAfrin: Deaths and kidnappings in YPG‑attack on several villages
KURDWATCH, March 15, 2013—On March‑8,‑2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s‑(PYD) People’s Defense Units‑(YPG) attacked the Kurdish villages of Basuta, Burj ʿAbdullah, and Kimar (approximately ten kilometers south of ʿAfrin) with heavily armed vehicles. The villages are considered the stronghold of Mustafa Dschumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party (Azadî). Three people—ʿAdil Hasan, ʿUmar Nabu, and ʿAlaʾ ʿAbdu—were killed by gunshot wounds, and numerous others were injured. In addition, forty-five to fifty people were kidnapped, including ʿAbdurrahman Ibo, member of the Central Committee of Mustafa Jumʿa’s Azadî. An Azadî checkpoint in Basuta was also destroyed. Mustafa Mahmud ʿAti, a leading member of the Azadî in Aleppo, told KurdWatch: »Our members and supporters still follow the party’s instructions not to shoot at the YPG. Not even if it attacks. But the YPG has crossed all boundaries. If it continues like this, the Azadî will be forced to defend itself militarily. We hope that it doesn’t go that far.«
Al-Qamishli: Azadî leaves the Supreme Kurdish Committee
KURDWATCH, March 15, 2013—On February 26, 2013, Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) left the Supreme Kurdish Committee. Mustafa Mahmud ʿAti, leading member of the party in Aleppo told KurdWatch: »We left the Supreme Kurdish Commission to protest against the kidnapping of our party members by the Democratic Union Party, which is also a member of the Committee. We also want to protest against the fact that the Committee did nothing to free our members.«
Al-Qamishli: Kurds celebrate Women’s Day
KURDWATCH, March 14, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week of March 2 to 8, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and ar‑Raqqa. On February 8, demonstrators throughout the country again demanded the fall of the regime. They took to the streets united under the slogan »Your sectarian state will not succeed«, which referred to the ʿAlawite areas’ potential splitting-off from the rest of Syria. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council and the Democratic Union (PYD) celebrated Women’s Day in separate demonstrations. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Martyr Farhad youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PKK‑affiliated women’s movement Yekîtiya Star). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah there were three demonstrations, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, one by the PYD, and one by dissident Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—also took place in ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the primarily Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.
Jindiras: YPG forces participation in strike
KURDWATCH, March 12, 2013—On February 14, 2013, three supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacked Ahmad Muhammad Mustafa (known as Pir Rustam), writer and member of the Central Committee of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî). They demanded he stop the loading of a transporter, to close his four stores in Jindiras, and to participate in a general strike. PKK‑affiliated organizations had called for the general strike that day to protest against the arrest and detention of Abdullah Öcalan. When Rustam refused to close his stores, the attackers tried to take him with them, but were stopped by neighbors and pedestrians. Only fifteen minutes after they had left Rustam’s shop, more than a dozen armed members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security forces (Asayiş) appeared. »They stormed into my store and brazenly asked who didn’t want to close his stores. I told them that I had long had this business appointment and couldn’t just send the transporter from Idlib [one hundred kilometers south of Jindiras] back empty. They wanted to arrest me if I didn’t participate in the strike. When we began to raise our voices, a crowd again gathered around us. Some explained to the attackers who I am. That is the only reason I wasn’t kidnapped. I still had to close my stores«. In an open statement a few days later one hundred and seventy writers, politicians, and activists condemned the PYD’s attack on Pir Rustam. In contrast, the Democratic Yekîtî, of whose Central Committee Rustam is a member, has not yet commented on the attack.