YPG forces at a training base in Rojava. Photo: AFP.
WASHINGTON — In a detailed statement, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria categorically dismissed allegations of human rights violations reported by a recent Amnesty International report as “biased, unprofessional and politicized.”
The statement said the Amnesty report fed into the “deepening of ethnic tensions” between Arabs and Kurds in Syria.
“The authors of the [Amnesty International] report did not mention the atrocities committed by IS (Islamic State) and its affiliates following their defeat in the region. Therefore, the Amnesty report is arbitrary, biased, unprofessional and politicized, which does not commensurate with the organization’s purpose,” said the YPG in the statement.
“In addition, the report will greatly contribute to deepening of ethnic tensions as it portrays the ongoing conflict as sectarian war between the Kurds and Arabs, which is a dangerous and immoral issue that puts the credibility of Amnesty International and its researchers at stake,” it added.
On October 12, Amnesty International published a report titled “We Had Nowhere Else to Go–Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria,” accusing Kurdish YPG forces of committing human rights violations, including forced displacement of non-Kurds and the demolition of their homes. The group’s investigators used accounts of eyewitness and images to back up their claims.
Emerging as one of the only effective anti-ISIS forces in Syria, the YPG has been mostly accused by Arab forces—including Syrian opposition groups—of purging Arabs from areas it controls. Kurds have declared three self-governing cantons in northern Syria as the central government in Damascus has been reduced to a rump state in the country’s ongoing civil war, raging since 2011.
The YPG claims that its cantons have Arab, Assyrian and other non-Kurdish minority representatives in their government.
The YPG said the Amnesty report ignores the “the complex reality of war,” as well as “the reality on the ground,” where various ethno-sectarian groups “[enjoy] a peaceful coexistence.”
The Kurdish group said that researchers at Amnesty relied on images taken from websites associated with some Syrian Arab forces who have been hostile to the Kurds. In addition, the areas where the investigations were conducted have been experiencing constant fighting in the past by various militants groups and the central government army loyal to Bashar al-Assad.
“[We] assure the public that an organization similar to the YPG and its affiliates, whose members firmly believe in ethnic and religious diversity and fight against global terrorism to achieve peace and security, would never tolerate or condone violations or abuses [that] might be carried out by its fighters regardless of their position or rank.”
The YPG statement concludes by calling on international rights groups to do their own investigation in Kurdish-controlled areas, and vowed full support for their work.