Rojavan authorities arrest members of Kurdish opposition party, shut down radio station


Kurdish Security Forces (Asayish) securing a road in the border town of Kobane, Syria. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

Amude – Rojavan police arrested members of the Yekiti Party on Thursday and raided a Yekiti-affiliated radio station. The Yekiti Party is a constituent member of the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) – an alliance of opposition parties.

Asayish police arrested eight Yekiti Party members in Amude town. Hasan Salih, the party’s Deputy General Secretary, was also taken into custody. Responding to the arrests, the KNC said that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is trying “to ban any dissenting opinion” within Northern Syria – Rojava.

The Asayish also raided Amûdê FM, detaining four staff members. According to the KNC, the Amûdê personnel were “released a few hours later, but the Asayish [confiscated] the radio’s technical equipment, locked the station and prohibited the continuation of its broadcast.”

“Since mid-August 2016, activists and politicians of KNC member parties […] are abducted on a nearly daily basis. Dozens languish in PYD prisons with no prospect of fair proceedings. Their only wrongdoing is their commitment to democracy and pluralism,” the KNC said in a statement.

The Kurdish National Council called on the international community to intervene in Northern Syria – Rojava, accusing the US-led coalition of ignoring abuses by local Self Administrations. In point of fact, European governments have exerted significant pressure on the PYD, demanding that the Asayish release imprisoned KNC members.

“The Kurdish National Council in Syria firmly rejects the repressive policies of the PYD,” the KNC declared. “We stand alongside the [PYD’s] innumerable victims.”

The Democratic Union Party is the driving force within the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), a polyethnic coalition which governs most of northern Syria. Through its military wing, the PYD maintains a strict monopoly on violence.

The PYD has accused the KNC of following a Turkish directed agenda, and working with the “enemies of the Rojavan revolution.” While the PYD seeks to establish a decentralized federal administration within Syria, the KNC’s goals are avowedly nationalistic.

The KNC is backed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), while the PYD is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The two Kurdish parties have not been able to share power in northern Syria and have been at odds since the collapse of the Duhok Agreement in October 2014.

Michael Stephens, head of the Royal United Services Institute, previously told ARA News  that interparty relations were unlikely to improve. “There appears to be little appetite on either side to rectify the tension at the current time, which is I think a reflection of the PYD’s overconfidence in its strategic position and the inability of the KRG to come to terms with a rival Kurdish party that has assumed territorial control,” he said.

“From the beginning, when we took any step the [KNC] stood against it,” said Diyar Qamishlo, a member of TEV-DEM’s Diplomatic Relations Office. “The KNC is used by outside powers. They have offices in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. Also, they are a member of the [hostile] Syrian coalition.”

According to Qamishlo, the proper place for the Kurdish opposition is not Ankara or Erbil, but in Northern Syria – Rojava. He told ARA News that TEV-DEM “accepts if other parties criticize us. Let them come join us and share power. If they want to stand against us, they can be against us in the parliament.”

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