21February2018

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION IN SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Video Shows Christian Property in Syria Seized by Kurdish Forces

As a Western ally in the fight against ISIS, Syria’s Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) has been vigorously presenting itself as an advocate of peace, democracy and ethno-religious pluralism. Its actions on the ground, however, especially its treatment of the dwindling indigenous populations, fly in the face of international law and debunk its idyllic portrayal.

Eddie Gaboro - Qamishli Jan 2018 

Video Courtesy of Eddie Gaboro Hanna (photo)

A video has just emerged of continuing efforts of confiscation of property belonging to vulnerable minority groups. The following Arabic text was written in red on the outer wall of the house of an Armenian Christian family: “Seized by the Executive Committee of Qamishli.” The latter term is commonly used by the PYD/YPG Kurds in reference to their self-proclaimed local authority.

The footage thus also reveals how the PYD/YPG/Asayesh forces perceive themselves. Lacking a documented history in Syria, the Kurds are neither indigenous nor the majority of the population of Northeast Syria. Nevertheless, amidst the country’s chaos, they have mobilized their forces and consider themselves the new rulers of their self-proclaimed autonomous region, which they promote as Rojava (‘West’ Kurdistan) and governing it under its self-declared constitution.

The video was recently recorded in a YPG-controlled district in Qamishli by Eddie Gaboro Hanna from Sydney, Australia. Featuring in Aramaic, the footage has been published and commented upon on Facebook. Mr. Hanna has shared it with the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) and emphasized: “What the YPG does is reminiscent of what ISIS did to the Christians in northern Iraq. It has confiscated many more buildings like this.” Today it is widely known that ISIS notoriously marked the Arabic letter N (‘Nasrani’ or Nazarene denoting Christian) in red on Aramean Christian homes and next to it in black: “Property of the Islamic State of Iraq.”

Mr. Hanna, who has traveled to Syria more than once, further testifies how the YPG-Kurds have seized property throughout Northeast Syria from minority groups such as the Aramean Christians: “They are confiscating rather than protecting our homes in the Qamishli and Hassake areas and they are even occupying entire villages in the Khabur region. They are treating us like second-class citizens, using a handful of our people as poster children, if not pawns, for their nationalist agenda. They are employing various tactics to frighten and subject our people with the aim of taking possession of our final remaining properties and lands, thereby transforming our ancestral homeland into an autonomous Kurdish region.”

Following the increasing complaints and calls for help by Arameans in Northeast Syria, WCA confirms Mr. Hanna’s findings, as they have been corroborated by the Arameans on the ground. Moreover, in the past years, WCA has communicated similar human rights violations.

In the last two weeks alone, as reported two days ago by WCA, at least nine young Christians and an unknown number of Arabs have been taken by force from the streets by the Asayesh. These security forces forcefully recruit young people and hand them over to the YPG, the armed wing of the PYD, which in turn dictates their fate sending them to the battle zone.

WCA continues to call upon the YPG to release the abducted young Arameans (Saliba Addo, Ishoa Hanna and Elias Hanna), to respect the local populations and to change its idealized and dangerous nationalist agenda with efforts towards genuine peace and security in a territorially unified Syria.

Until the conflict erupted in 2011, Christians constituted 10% (2,3 million) of Syria’s national population. Hundreds of thousands of Arameans have already fled their war-torn homeland. As the indigenous people of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, the Arameans have retained their 3,000-year-old Aramaic mother tongue, which is better known as the ‘language of Jesus’.

Click here to download the statement in PDF.

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For earlier reports and background information on

the Kurdification of Northeast Syria, see:

 

 

 

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