Sixteen Assyrian and Armenian organizations have issued a statement protesting Kurdish expropriation of private property in the Hasaka province of Syria, the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reports.
The statement accuses the Democratic Union Party (YPD), the Syrian wing of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), of human rights violations, expropriation of private property, illegal military conscription and interference in church school curricula.
YPD has gained some international attention in its fight against ISIS, a fight which Assyrian fighters have joined, but it has been accused by Human Rights Watch of massive violations of human rights, extending to forced evictions and the destruction of homes and property of non-Kurdish populations in regions under its control. Some of the violations which impact the Christian Assyrian population are:
- Enforcement of new curricula in private and public schools
- conducting forced recruitment of young people
- enforcing special taxes
- occupation of Assyrian owned public buildings
According to Assyrian leaders in Hasaka, the Kurds form about 30 percent of the population in Northern Syria’s Jazeera region (provincial capital Hasaka) but increasingly act as occupiers of the region. YPD militia killed David Jendo, the commander of the Assyrian Khabour village guards, in April this year. The guards were established to defend the Khabur villages from ISIS.
Most recently the YPD has taken the decision to confiscate what it calls “abandoned emigrant property,” which is the property of internally displaced Syrians, driven away from their homes by the Syrian conflict.
Assyrian and Armenian churches, political and civic organizations issued the following letter to protest YPD’s actions:
For over four years our country, Syria, is struggling with tragic events. War devastation and terrorism have caused all ethnic groups much suffering. But we, inhabitants of Al-Jazeera, have kept so precious nowadays ideals of peaceful coexistence between various communities of our province. Due to extraordinary situation and having safety in mind Local Self-Administration was created, together with number of dependent institutions. Some of its regulations, however, are not properly prepared nor thoroughly measured. This causes valid concerns among various ethnic and national groups. While it is happening official authorities are still performing its fiscal, administrative, legal and military duties.
Law on Emigrant Property
After careful consideration representatives of Christian communities in Qamishli agreed on following:
- Aforementioned Law on Emigrant Property is in violation of Human Rights Law, breaking fundamental Right to property
- Under no circumstances, nobody can labelled as “traitor” just for leaving their home.
- Efforts at creating “Institution for Emigrant Properties Redistribution and Management” is an attempt of expropriation real estate under a guise of helping those in need.
- These regulations create a dangerous precedence in Proprietorship Law in whole province of Al-Jazeera. Additionally this will cause substantial demographic changes centered at local Christians who will lose their homes. It’s worth mentioning that nearly 35% of all real estate in the area is owned by Christians. Expropriation of this properties will cause valid concerns amongst both those who fled and stayed, preventing the latter from ever coming back.
- It’s worth noting that stance, taken by many local Christians, of not selling nor appointing a proxy for their properties is fully supported by both state and international law. Any claims of this being illegal are false.
Taking all of the above into account we believe that such actions of “Local Administration” will cause ethnic cracks and turmoil. In order to avoid it and to convince authors to abandon these regulations we hereby announce ourselves as plaintiffs and prosecutors for any and all cases under both state and international tribunals and courts of law.
“Procedure on issuing permits and licenses, new permits and licenses fees and taxes” is redundant and illegal. Already existing permits and licenses are absolutely valid. They were issued in accordance with the law by official Syrian authorities and did not lose their legitimacy. Demand for their replacement and new fees, often exceeding their holders financial capabilities, is unacceptable.
“Conscription Law”. Demanding military service by organization without state legitimization is preposterous.
Any interference into church private schools in Al-Jazeera province in unacceptable. These institutions are sanctioned by administrative and education authorities. Pressure on this institutions is viewed as an interference in education and upbringing of Christian children and adolescents.
We appeal into everybody’s sense of responsibility and ask for restraint when handling matters that could limit rights of both individuals and communities. Fundamental Human Rights have to be upheld in order for peace and safety to once again grace all of Syria. We are hoping for continuous, peaceful coexistence of all Al-Jazeera inhabitants, regardless of their faith, ethnicity, nationality and culture.
- Syriac Orthodox Church
- Armenian Apostolic Church
- Al-Jazeera and Euphrates Armenian Diocese
- Chaldean Syrian Church in Qamishli
- Assyrian Church of the East
- Assyrian Ancient Church of the East
- Syriac Catholic Church
- Syriac Orthodox Civil Peace Committee
- National Evangelical Church
- Assyrian Democratic Organization
- Aramean Free Party
- Assyrian Committee on Rural Agricultural Land
- Christian Civic Union
- Mother Syria Youth Association
- Youth Institute for National Reconciliation
- Center for Syrian Christian Youth