The self-proclaimed Kurdish administration in Gozarto, Syria, under the leadership of the PKK's daughter organization PYD, is not making any secret of its chauvinistic agenda towards other ethnic groups. Confiscation of emigrants' property, new curricula in private and public schools, forced recruitment of young people to YPG militia and extra taxes, are some of the latest abuses. The Kurds copy the recipe of intolerance, which Turkish nationalists and Arab Baath Parties have practised during the 20th century.
While a large part of world leaders are praising the Kurdish YPG militia's alleged successes against IS, the PYD conducts an extremely chauvinistic agenda. Although the PYD does not represent more than 10% of Kurds number in Syria (according to its leader Saleh Muslim’s brother, Mustafa Muslim to tr.sputniknews.com), the PYD violates the rights of the inhabitants of Gozarto, by using its consensus with the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad. Assyrians, Armenians and other Christian groups have had enough of the abuses and have now made a statement denouncing these abuses. The statement is signed by churches, organizations and political parties among Assyrians and Armenians in Gozarto - except for Dawronoye, who are a branch of the PYD. The statement has been published by the Assyrian human rights organization Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights and the large media company alarabiya.net in its Arabic original. It has also been widely spread on social media.
The signatories indicate the following four examples of abuses by the Kurdish PYD administration. I have not translated the contents literally, but summarized the message:
1. The Law of "administration" of the estates belonging to those who fled the war, must withdraw because
a) is contravenes human rights and the individual's right to property
b) it designates the emigrants as traitors
c) the proposed Commission to assess estates is nothing but a way to confiscate the property of others
d) it is a serious threat to the Christian demographics in Gozarto, with the aim to confiscate the Christian’s agricultural land, which currently amounts 35% of the lands of the region. It scares away those who want to return home when the war is over
e) the prohibition for Christians to sell their property or give power of attorney to their relatives increases the risk that they no longer return home.
2. The law of the new (Kurdish) state fees and taxes is unacceptable, because the existing permissions from the Syrian government are still valid. Citizens may not be forced new taxes that they can not handle.
3. The law of forced recruitment into military service constitutes a double coercion to the citizens, when they are recruited by two different military powers.
4. Interference in internal affairs of private schools within the churches, is unacceptable and an obstacle in our children's education.
The statement is signed by the following organizations and associations:
Syrian Orthodox Church, Chaldean Church in Qameshly, Syrian Catholic Church, Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO), Christian civil assembly, Centre for persevering Christians in Syria, Armenian Orthodox Church, Assyrian Church of the East, National Evangelical Church, Free Aramean Party, Youth assembly Mother Syria, Armenian diocese in Jazeera and the Euphrates, Ancient Assyrian Church of the East, Syrian Orthodox board for citizen-peace, Board of Assyrian peasants, and Youth organization for national consensus.
For those who do not know the background of the new Kurdish edict in Gozarto, I can briefly summarize it. On September 15, 2015, the Kurdish self-rule parliament issued a law to confiscate the properties that Assyrians and other emigrants left behind. The Kurds themselves do not call it confiscation, but ruther administration of the property, until the owner will come back. But it is a pure lie. It's about the same methods as Turkish nationalists used in 1942, when they put extremely high taxes on the Christians, Varlık Vergisi, which led to the economy, from one day to the next, turned from Christian minorities to the state and its Muslim minions. Kurdish PYD acknowledges in the legislation that most sufferers are Assyrians and says it wants to "administrate" both immoveable and personal estate of those who have been away longer than one year. This applies to house, apartment, car, business, factory, lands and farmland, i.e all of it. A committee has been appointed to value the properties, but has not yet started its work.
As for the PYD's directive for schools, both state and private schools are obliged to teach Kurdish students the newly printed teaching materials in Kurdish, while the Assyrian and Arabic children must study some subjects in Kurdish, for example, social studies and Kurdish history, as well as the main features of Yazidism and Christianity, beside Islam knowledge. They have also the right to learn their own language. But this is just the beginning. If the PYD curricula will succeed, it is a matter of time before all teaching must be in Kurdish. Such claims have already been made against Assyrian schools in northern Iraq as well.
The Assyrian activist Dr. Nicholas al-Jeloo recently wrote following indignant comment on his Facebook about the Kurdish compulsion:
While Chaldean prelates are busy trying to create a "nation" from lies, and divide our already weak ethnic group, the Kurds in Syria are forcing our children to learn Kurdish "history" in Kurdish. Who would have thought that this would be happening in the cradle of Assyrianism - Qamishli itself, the birthplace of the oldest surviving Assyrian political organization. They are making our children learn their history (what damn history?) on our own lands - just because we are now a minority! When I was in Syria in 2009 and 2010, I was taken aback by certain leaders of the Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO), who were lamenting the fact that, while Assyrians were allowed to teach Syriac in their private schools, the children of their Kurdish neighbours were not allowed to learn their own language. That's how much the ADO cared about freedom and democracy, and it even joined the Syrian Opposition in order to bring that about. Too bad, their lovey-dovey view of the world backfired on them, and now their own children are being forced to learn their neighbours' language against their will.
More information on the new Kurdish curricula is available on the website raseef22 in Arabic and AINA in English. What Al-Jeloo is referring to when he criticizes Chaldean prelates, is the fact that Patriarch Sako and some bishops recently encouraged the formation of a Chaldean League in France, which created headlines when they claim that the Catholic Chaldeans consist a separate nation.
The Kurdish project to create their own autonomies and eventually a state of their own is fully ongoing, while different Assyrian representatives go their own way and create more divisions within the group. Many Assyrian observers are convinced that these are in the service of Barzani and other Kurdish political leaders, in order to weaken the Assyrians, because the Kurdish political entities are supposed to be formed on occupied Assyrian land. Regarding Syria, the PYD has demonstrated an unabashed ambition to copy Turkish nationalists and Baath parties in its chauvinistic acts.