Pro-Autonomous Administration security services in al-Hasakeh province, namely Asayesh Forces/Internal Security/ and the military intelligence affiliated to People's Protection Units YPG, arrested a large number of KNC loyalties and leaders against the background of preparations for celebrations to support Kurdistan independence referendum scheduled in 25 current September.
At 4:00 pm on Friday, September 15, 2017, Local councils of KNC called their supporters to join supporting referendum celebrations that were later held in Tel Fendi in al-Hasakeh. Indeed, supporters of the council came from al-Hasakeh, Amuda, Ras Al Ayn/Sari Kani and Tel Tamer. Another celebration was held at Jernik Stadium Square in Qamishli and its countryside. The third celebration held in Kafri Dna village of Alyan area and was attended by KNC supporters from Rmylan, Maabadah /Girkê Legê, Derik/al-Malikiayah, Turbe Sipi/al-Qahtaniyah and Çil Axa/al-Jawadiyah.
Arrests of about 31 leaders and supporters of KNC were conducted on Thursday September 14, 2017, which means a day before the celebration on the pretext that they were members of the organizing committee of the ceremony as Nitham al-Deen Aliko, a member of Yekiti/ Kurdish party in Syria, stated. At 2:00 am, some masked and unmasked men in civilian clothes arrested Nitham al-Deen, 33, when they stormed his house in al-Darbasiyah town and took him to an anonymous place that he believes to be a prison inside al-Darbasiyah. He added:
“I think they were the intelligence unit affiliated to YPG. They did not let me put on my shoes and took me in my nightgown while blindfolded to an anonymous destination. About half an hour later, they investigated me on the pretext that I was a member of the celebration organizing committee depending on the report presented to them. I answered that we do not have an organized committee for the celebration and that the tasks are distributed to all committees and council offices in various regions. However, they asked me to name the organizing committee members.”
In turn, Abdullah Kedo, a member of the Central Committee Yekiti party in Syria, Qamishli, told Syrians for Truth and Justice/STJ that militants of Democratic Union Party PYD arrested a number of KNC loyalties and took them to unknown destinations to prevent their arrival at the festival places held for Kurdistan referendum. He added:
“They not only arrested people, but also installed checkpoints between the cities and even within the city's neighborhoods and streets to prevent our supporters from reaching and joining the celebration. The main reason for these procedures is hindering the Kurdish national project, presented in the celebration of the referendum, and to prove to their loyalties that the project advocated by the KNC is not a public one.”
Elements of the Asayesh forces/Internal Security forces/ surrounded the festival site I Qamishli and blocked all roads and pathways to it under the pretext of protecting it. Kedo described this action as following:
“Those who arrest our strivers do not protect us, they just protect themselves from extending beliefs of owners of the Kurdish national project against the poly project in the name of the Friendship and Brotherhood Project and so on, which the Kurdish people do not believe in”, referring to the Democratic Nation project advocated by the Democratic Community Movement/TEVDEM and PYD.
A large gathering of KNC supporters attended the celebration in Qamishli, raised the flag of Kurdistan Region- Iraq, as well as photos and slogans glorifying the President Massoud Barzani and his father Mullah Mustafa Barzani.
During his speech in the celebration, Abdel Samad Khalaf Bro, a member of the political committee of Yekiti Party in Syria, described the Asayesh forces practices as cowardly and unjust and that they served Kurds enemies as well. Bro added:
Parallel to regional, Iraqi and the Arab League threats, militias of PYD in Ras al-Ayn, Amuda, Darbasiyah and Tel Tamer stormed houses of KNC supporters and leaders and abducted them to unknown destinations. Moreover, they arrested everyone worked for preparing the celebrations, aiming to weaken the participation in celebrations and forgetting that Kurds who faced the Arab League, Iraqi parliament and regional threats can also challenge these cowardly and unjust procedures that serve the interests of Kurds enemies.”
In turn the KNC of Syria, also a member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, condemned in a statement the arrest of its members and supporters and described it as an escalating, systematic and hysterical step, aimed to intimidate the Kurds and prevent them from participating in the celebrations. In addition, the statement condemned the terrorist practice and gangs approach of the PYD militias against the Kurds.
The majority of arrests against activists were in Tel Tamer, Ras al-Ayn, Amuda, al-Darbasiyah, and Abu Rasin affiliated to the city of Ras al-Ayn. Kurdish Yekiti party in Syria had the largest share in terms of arresting its members.
The Arrests in Tel Tamer
1. Hussein Haj Ahmed, member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party /KDP/ Sub-committee -Syria.
2. Bahjat Sheikho, member of the central committee of the Kurdish Yekiti party- Syria.
3. Ismail Ghro, member of the logical committee of the Kurdish Yekiti party-Syria.
4. Qasim Khalil Ahmed, member of the logical committee of the Kurdish Equality party in Syria and vice-president of the local council of Tel Tamer.
All prisoners were transferred to the Hawarneh prison in Ras-al-Ayn/Sari Kani.
The Arrests in Amuda
1. Abdul Qader Wali, member of the leading body of the Kurdish Democratic Left Wing Party-Syria.
2. Abdulwahab Karme, member of the logical committee of (KDP) and president of a local council in Amuda.
3. Fahad Ali Asaad, an independent member of the local council of KNC in Jawhariya village in Amuda countryside.
4. Barzan Shekhmous, a media man in the Kurdish Yekiti party -Syria.
5. Mustafa Sinan, member of the local council in Jawhariya village in Amuda countryside.
6. Ismail Sinan, member of the local council in the Jawhariya village in Amuda countryside
7. Mohammed Sheikh Bashir, an independent member of KNC.
8. Lukman Auja, an independent member of KNC.
The Arrests in Ras al-Ayn/Sari Kani
1. Badran Mesto, member of the central committee of the Kurdish Yekiti party-Syria.
2. Abdel Majid Musa, member of the logical committee of PDK.
3. Abdel Hamid Khalil, member of the logical committee of PDK.
4. Ezzaddin Saleh, member of PDK.
The Arrests in al-Darbasiyah
1. Abdel Hamid Aliko, member of the logical committee of the Yekiti party.
2. Nitham al-Deen Aliko, member of Yekiti party.
3. Jihad Aliko, member of Yekiti party.
4. Idris Ali, member of Yekiti party.
They were taken to a detention facility in al-Darbasiyah.
The Arrests in Abu Rasin of Ras al-Ayn/Sari Kani
1. Mahmoud Ismail, member of the logical committee of KDP-Syria.
2. Mohamed Mohamed Amin, independent member of KNC.
3. Hawas Mahmud, member of Sub-committee of KDP-Syria.
4. Ismail Amin, member of the Sub-Committee of KDP- Syria.
5. Nuri Abdulbaki Sheikh Bashir, member of Sub-committee of KDP-Syria.
6. Shorash Hamy, member of Yekiti Party.
7. Khaled Haji, member of Yekiti party.
Apart from the above arrests, pro-Autonomous Administration Asayesh forces/ internal security arrested Nazhan Rasheed, the leader of KDP on Tuesday evening, September 12, 2017, from the village of Karriya, in the town of Girkê Legê. Nobody has known his whereabouts so far, knowing that Nazhan is Mohamed Ahmed’s brother who is a fighter in Rojava Peshmerga, the military force adapted by KNC that receives training in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Mohammed Ahmed had died in the fighting against ISIS in the Mosul Dam axis.
Bahjat Sheikho, a member of the central committee of the Kurdish Yekiti party in Syria- Tel Tamer who was arrested along with a group of his party colleagues on the Palestine Street in Tel Tamer at around 8:00 p.m. on 14 September 2017, said:
“A military intelligence patrol of the YPG, all masked, surrounded us by four cars, arrested us, took our mobile phones and then put us in a mini-van and took us to Ras al-Ayn/Sari Kani.”
Bahjat, the leader, reported that they were not subjected to harassment or torture during the arrest, and described the investigations as a routine action involved about their names, jobs, and the parties they affiliate to.
“They took us to Hawarneh prison in Ras al Ayn/Sari Kani, which completely lack services. We were about 12 people, besides; the detention facility did not contain a sink, toilet nor beds. The blankets we slept on were so dirty and the place was full of insects and cockroaches.”
Bahjat also noted that one of the prisoners, who stayed for about three hours, was a member of the Left Party affiliated to Autonomous Administration parties. The prisoner was in charge of the bus garage in Tel Tamer, and was arrested on the pretext that he did not informed the responsible authorities that members of the KNC had hired cars to take their loyalties to the celebration place in Tel Fendi.
The next day, September 15, 2017, at about 5 a.m. Bahjat Sheikho and the other prisoners were released.
In another testimony, Nitham al-Deen Aliko, 33, a member of the Yekiti Party -Syria, said that he had been interrogated two times during his detention. Aliko said they were detained in solitary confinement prior to the “bad” investigation, as he described, he also described the way they brought him to the investigating chamber as a “degrading way”, he added:
“After ending the second bad investigation, in which the investigator uttered bad words especially against the leadership of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, we were taken to another room in the prison with 12 ISIS components. The investigator told us that we were terrorists and we must stay with the terrorists.”
According to Aliko, they were not subjected to physical torture in the detention facility as much as the psychological one. The administration released them after taking their photos and registering their files. Concerning the services in the prison, there were no bathrooms in some of the prison rooms, so they brought them plastic bottles to pee in, but ISIS prisoners’ room was somewhat well serviced and wide.
The Kurdistan Regional Government-KRG had taken a decision to hold the independence referendum on September 25 despite international and regional objections; KNC, which represents a part of Syrian Kurds, supports the decision.
Syrian for Truth and Justice/STJ/ reporter informed that the majority of the detainees were released in the evening of the next day, September 15, 2017, but after finishing the ceremonies.