Ibrahim Biro, president of the Kurdish National Council. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Kurdish National Council (KNC, ENKS) denounced the “common practice” of intimidation of political activists and journalists in Rojava, northern Syria by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
KNC members, other Kurdish politicians, and critics of the PYD “suffer constantly from threats and from the deprivation of freedom of movement across the Syrian-Iraqi border,” the party said in a press release on Tuesday following the arrest of its president, Ibrahim Biro, by the Asayesh (security forces) in Qamishli on Sunday.
President Biro was abducted by the PYD’s Asayesh police force at gunpoint on Sunday afternoon and then detained at “an unknown place” for six hours, stated the press release from the KNC’s office in Geneva.
Biro was then deported by the PYD to the Kurdistan Region and was warned that if he returned to Syria, “he would be killed.”
The statement concludes that this is “why already more than a million Kurds fled the area.”
By deporting President Biro the KNC say that the PYD is “not only expelling a Syrian Kurd from his home country, but at the same time restraining a popular Kurdish politician challenging their power from working inside Syria.”
The KNC issued a call for people who favour freedom and democracy to condemn the authoritarianism and political suppression of the PYD in Rojava by taking a public stance against Biro’s arrest and deportation.
Biro, speaking to Rudaw on Sunday, said that the PYD had detained him for the KNC’s political activities.
“The KNC is really doing a great job in Rojava and our people believe in our political movement,” Biro said, before going on to predict that the PYD will fail since “it is impossible for the people of Syria to accept another dictatorship.”
Biro expected the PYD would take some action against him. On July 17, in the Kurdistan Region before traveling to Rojava, Biro told Rudaw that, “[The authorities] tell me that I should not return to Rojava, otherwise I will be arrested. But I do not care what they say and I will return.”
The KNC was founded in Erbil and sponsored by the Kurdistan Regional Government in October 2011 to participate in politics in Syria Kurdistan, which was just attaining de-facto autonomy. However, it has struggled to co-exist alongside the ruling PYD.
The PYD has prevented the KNC’s 3,000-strong Rojava Peshmerga, trained in the Kurdistan Region, from entering Syrian Kurdish territory in order to help defend it against Islamic State (ISIS) militants.
On Monday, 18 members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDKS), including five of the leadership, were arrested in Qamishli, Rojava. The deputy leader of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (PYKS) was also arrested during the funeral for a Peshmerga who had been killed in the Kurdish offensive south of Mosul.
The Rojava Asayesh released a statement regarding the arrests at the funeral. They state that the Asayesh intervened to confiscate weapons from PYD supporters who they say were looking to attack mourners at the funeral. Their forces were then attacked by KNC supporters.
“We call on the leadership of the Asayesh, citizens, and all the parties to preserve civil peace,” reads the statement from the General Command of the Rojava Asayesh, “and respect the current laws in Rojava and orders from the Asayesh.”
“People should not exploit such ceremonies to create sedition and unrest for political interests.”