New Report: Ethnic Cleansing in Tall Abyad? Characteristics of YPG and PYD rule in the areas captured from the IS / KURDWATCH REPORT MARCH 2016

KurdWatch, March 18, 2016—In June 2015, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), with help from the US Air Force, was successful in capturing the city of Tall Abyad and the surrounding areas from the Islamic State (IS). In this context, the PYD and its People’s Defense Units were accused of carrying out grave human rights violations, including the charge of ethnic cleansing. This report addresses the question of how the PYD and the YPG operate in an area that differs significantly from regions such as Jazirah, ʿAfrin and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), all under PYD administration since 2012, in that it is primarily Arab. The newly captured areas around the city is only ten percent Kurdish. A further fifteen percent is Turkmen. What methods and instruments does the PYD use to govern this region? What does the human rights record in this area look like? Were there large-scale ethnically motivated expulsions from the region?

Al-Qamishli: International Women’s Day Demonstration

KurdWatch, March 15, 2016—On March 8, 2016, around twenty‑five activists from the women’s organization Komela Şawîşka, which has a close affinity to the Kurdish National Council, carried out a demonstration in al‑Qamishli to mark International Women’s Day. The activists campaigned for women’s rights. One poster read: »The woman is the heart, the man is the head.«


ʿAmudah: Kurdish National Council demands federal system

KurdWatch, March 15, 2016—On March 6, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah carried out a demonstration during which approximately one hundred participants called for federalism for Syria and for Syrian- Kurdistan.


Al-Qamishli: Regime organizes pro-Hezbollah demonstration

KurdWatch, March 14, 2016—On March 6, 2016, around one hundred supporters of the Syrian regime demonstrated in the city center of al‑Qamishli against the decision of the Golf Cooperation Council to classify Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The demonstration’s participants carried posters with pictures of Bashar al‑Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah.


ʿAfrin: Asayiş abduct a central committee member of the PDK–S

KurdWatch, March 11, 2016—On March 4, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), called on ʿAbdurrahman Apo at his house in ʿAfrin. They demanded that the member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDK‑S) accompany them to the station. Apo never returned home. The next day his relatives went to the Asayiş station and made enquires and were given no information about his whereabouts.


Al-Hasakah: PYD aims to create a defense belt around Jazirah

KurdWatch, March 10, 2016—On March 3, 2016, the Democratic Forces of Syria, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), began a new offensive. Islamic State (IS) fighters were reportedly expelled from the area between al‑Shaddadi, located fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah, and the city of Tall Abyad. According to the Democratic Forces own statements a defense belt is to be built around Jazirah and the city of Tall Abyad.


Jarabulus: Conflicts between IS and YPG

KurdWatch, March 9, 2016—On March 1, 2016 fighters for the Islamic State (IS) tried to cross the Euphrates three kilometers south of Jarabulus in the direction of the east bank, which is controlled by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). According to the YPG, around ten IS fighters are said to have been killed.


Al-Maʿbada: Renewed forced recruitment for the YPG

KurdWatch, March 6, 2016—On February 29, 2016 employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited young men against their will from al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) and the surrounding villages to the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). Eye-witnesses reported that Asayiş patrol cars randomly abducted potential recruits off the street.  


ʿAyn al-ʿArab: PYD prohibits TV station

KurdWatch, March 6, 2016—On February 25, 2016, media affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) published two decisions by the PYD-appointed administration for the canton of Kobanî, which ban the employees of the Iraqi-Kurdish TV station Rûdaw as well as the Syrian opposition station Orient News from working in the canton. Moreover, employees of the administration are forbidden to give interviews to either station. The justification for the decision was the attitude of the station towards the canton of Kobanî as well as supposed citizen complaints.


Al-Qamishli: Renewed forced recruitment for the YPG

KurdWatch, March 4, 2016—On February 21, 2016 in al‑Qamishli, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited young men against their will into the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Young men were also forcibly recruited in ʿAfrin and the surrounding area between February 20 and 24.