Head of Turkish-backed council in Afrin arrested by armed group
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Subhi Riziq, head of the Turkish-backed local council in the town of Jindires in the Syrian district of Afrin, has been arrested and trasferred to Turkey, local human rights organizations say.
According to reports of the Human Rights Organization in Afrin and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Military Police arrested the head of the local council in Jindires (Cindirês), Subhi Riziq, and then handed him over to the Turkish intelligence.
“The Civil Council head was arrested in his workplace for ‘dealing with Kurdish forces’ and then he was turned in to Turkish intelligence,” SOHR said on Wednesday.
The Human Rights Organization in Afrin said the official was accused of links to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD.)
Although Riziq is a member of a civil council set up by the Turkish-backed opposition after Turkey and its local allies took over the Afrin region from the YPG in March 2018, those charges were, nonetheless, leveled against him.
According to a report from the official website of the Kurdish National Council (KNC), Riziq, was also responsible for the border crossing with Turkey in the village of Hammam and Riziq was also accused of involvement in a bombing in Jindires.
Bassam al-Ahmad, Executive Director of the human rights organization, Syrians for Truth and Justice, told Kurdistan 24 that this case is very unusual. Ahmad said they had documented over 101 arrests in Afrin in July and August. “Most of them are Kurds from the area. When they pass any kind of red lines, they get arrested,” he said.
Ahmed added that Riziq’s arrest is a sign that “no one is protected, even if you work with them (the Turkish-backed authorities.)”
This is not the first time that civilians or politicians have been arrested who had no links to the YPG, PYD, or local self-administration which governed Afrin before the Turkish invasion. According to a report in Syria Direct, even several Kurdish commanders working with Turkish-backed armed groups went missing in 2018.
On March 31, Hussein Ibesh, a member of the Central Committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDP-S), the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), headed by Masoud Barzani over the Iraqi border in Erbil, was detained for one month after being arrested by an armed group in Afrin.
“Kurds who work with parties and institutions affiliated with the Turkish-backed occupying government have often been targeted for kidnappings,” Meghan Bodette, an independent researcher, told Kurdistan 24.
“Many are accused of collaborating with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, despite affiliation with organizations directly opposed to the AANES,” she continued. “This proves how this charge is used to target Kurds on the basis of ethnicity— and how little control civilian authorities have over the behavior of armed groups in occupied Afrin.”
The KNC, which is a member of the Istanbul-based Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), held an online meeting on September 9 with the organization as a whole. According to a statement from the SOC, the KNC called on the Syrian opposition to ensure the return of people displaced from Afrin, Ras al-Ayn, and Tal Abyad.
They also discussed human rights violations by the PYD in the northeast of Syria. However, the statement did not say, if the two sides discussed human right violations by Turkish-backed groups in Afrin and other areas.
A report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, published last March, accused Turkish-backed rebels of carrying out war crimes, such as murder, pillaging, and targeting of Kurdish women.
The head of the KNC, Saud al-Mullah, in early September, told Kurdistan newspaper that Turkey “occupied Afrin through terrorist armed factions,” after Ankara reached an agreement with Moscow.
“All terrorist acts and practices, including kidnapping, torture, murder, and displacement were carried out by these factions with different names before Turkey’s eyes,” he stated. “Turkey wants to impose its control on all Kurdish regions.”
Mullah said that the KNC froze its work within the SOC after Turkey’s invasion and, instead, held bilateral meetings with the Syrian opposition and Turkish Foreign Ministry to stop such violations.
However, so far, these human rights violations have continued.
Redwan Seydo, a member of the KNC’s legal office, earlier complained tp Kurdistan 24 that the Syrian political opposition “has been negligent, and they are also responsible for these crimes.”
“We continue asking the Syrian opposition [to fulfill their duties], yet we can see the occupation state of Turkey having influence over the Syrian opposition, especially a section of them,” Seydo continued, adding that may “be the reason behind their indifference” toward violations in Afrin, Serekaniye, and Gire Spi (Tal Abyad.)
Editing by Laurie Mylroie