Opposition party offices closed, members arrested in Rojava

By Rudaw 1 hour ago – 17 March 2017 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – PKK/PYD Authorities in Rojava, northern Syria have reportedly closed the offices of several opposition political parties and arrested party members over the past few days after requesting all parties to register under the law. Opposition parties have condemned the closures and arrests, saying there is no independent commission capable of registering political parties and expressing concern for their imprisoned members.

“At least forty people have been arrested,” the Kurdish National Council (KNC, ENKS) said in a written statement published on Thursday. “In addition to the detentions, attacks against offices of the KNC and its member parties have taken place.”The KNC is the main opposition to the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rojava and has complained of frequent harassment and arrests of its party members by the PYD.

Earlier this week, the Asayesh, Kurdish security, published declarations from Rojava canton authorities informing all political parties of their requirement to register in accordance with a decree passed in April 2014. The announcements said that many parties had failed to register and gave them 24 hours to do so, under threat of closure and referral to the judiciary. “The parties of the KNC rejected this demand, as there is no independent commission in charge of the registration of parties,” the KNC stated, noting that the commission charged with the registrations was formed from government officials of the three Rojava cantons.

“These governments have neither been elected nor installed by a representative delegation of Kurdish parties,” the KNC continued, alleging that the entities involved in the administration all have close ties to the PYD or are unknown parties.

“The policies defined in a law for party registration passed in 2014 suggest a democratic procedure. In reality, however, it’s the PYD who makes decisions about what other parties receive authorization.”

The KNC accused the PYD of cracking down on their party because of their efforts to bring the Rojava Peshmerga, an armed force backed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to northern Syria to assist in protection from ISIS.  Col. John Dorrian, spokesperson for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, said that the coalition has no plans to incorporate the Rojava Peshmerga into the forces the coalition is working with to defeat ISIS in northern Syria. He made his comments in a press briefing on Wednesday.