Suppression of Kurdish Opposition Ahead of Elections

Credit: (Baderkhan Ahmad/AP)

Late Sunday night into Monday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) intelligence units arrested media activist Berivan Ismail and Kurdish National Council (ENKS) leader Fawaz Benko in Amuda, Hasakah countryside. This move is part of what appears to be an ongoing campaign by the SDF to suppress political opposition, drawing local and international condemnation.

According to a family source, an armed group affiliated with the SDF intelligence raided Ismail’s home after midnight, forcibly detaining her despite her family’s attempts to prevent the arrest. The group confiscated her laptop and mobile phone, along with other devices belonging to her family. The raid reportedly included acts of vandalism and terror, particularly traumatizing the children in the household.

While the armed group did not identify themselves, they referred to themselves as “comrades of the party,” a term commonly used by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK’s influence over military groups within the region is well-documented, leading to further scrutiny of their involvement in these recent arrests.

Simultaneously, another armed group raided Benko’s home, taking him to an undisclosed location. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) described the arrest as a violent operation that terrorized Benko’s family and nearby residents. The group closed streets and surrounded the house, an approach reminiscent of anti-terrorism raids.

The KNC has publicly condemned the arrests and holds the Democratic Union Party (PYD) responsible. The Council has urged human rights organizations, the international coalition, and nations invested in the Syrian conflict to intervene and halt these violations. The Council also highlighted that such actions by the SDF and its affiliates only fuel the determination of the Syrian people to continue their struggle for justice and freedom.

In a statement released Monday, the KNC demanded the release of its members, including Abdul Rahman Muhammad Shank and Khaled Muhammad Miro, who were kidnapped earlier this month. Shank, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria, was taken from his home in Tabqa, Derik region, and Miro, a sub-council member of the same party, was abducted from his home in Derik.

These arrests are not isolated incidents. In May, the SDF intelligence detained three individuals, including a minor, for staging a play that referenced a massacre by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a key component of the SDF. The detained included Majdal Dahham Haj Qassem, leader of the Khunaf folklore band, and two members of the theatrical troupe, Saad Kawa Konrich, and Saleh Jamil Bakari.

The crackdown continued throughout April, with arrests of writers, journalists, and political figures such as Nasser Jaro, Ahmed Sufi, Hissam Abdullah Dorsen, Marwan Liani, and Rakan Ahmed. The fates of many detainees remain unknown.

The areas under SDF control have seen widespread violations against political activists and journalists, including the closure of media outlets, physical assaults, threats, and arrests. As elections approach, these tactics appear to be intensifying, raising serious concerns about the democratic process and the safety of those opposing the current administration.


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