Published: 21/01/2016 12:54 PM
Syrian Kurdish journalist
“I either have to complete my [military service] in the Self-Defense Duty [institution] or leave Kurdistan’s Rojava forever," Gulal Liyani says.Source : https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports/566516-syrian-kurdish-journalist-arrested-forcibly-conscripted
BEIRUT – A journalist who works for a pro-rebel news outlet has been arrested by Kurdish internal security (Asayesh) in northeastern Syria and conscripted into the auxiliary Self-Defense Force of the Kurdish region.
Gulal Liyani’s account of his journey from detention centers to a Kurdish military training camp was publicized Thursday by the local Rojava News outlet as well as Mustafa Ebdi, a leading Syrian Kurdish journalist and activist from Kobane.
Liyani—who works as a reporter for the Dubai-based Orient News—explains that he was first arrested on November 29, 2015 at a market in Girke Lege by a patrol of Asayesh security officers, who told him they were taking him to their center in the nearby town of Rimelan for questioning.
However, after arriving at the security headquarters, Liyani says he was thrown into a tiny one-by-two meter wide isolation chamber, where he was held for 23-hours.
Following his uncomfortable detention, Liyani was taken to an interrogation room, where he says an Asayesh officer “asked several superficial questions about my current work and my work as a journalist since the beginning of the revolution, as well as my opinion of the educational curricula” introduced by the Democratic Self-Administration, which exerts de-facto autonomy over Kurdish-populated regions in northern Syria.
In September 2015, Kurdish authorities introduced new curricula for primary school students that opponents of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) criticize as an attempt to teach the ideology of the ruling party.
Liyani had covered protests against the new curricula, including an October 29 report on a demonstration in Girke Lege.
The Kurdish journalist says that after answering the interrogator’s question, he asked why he had been arrested, to be told that he was being investigated to ascertain whether he belonged to Peshmerga Rojava, the military wing of one of the PYD’s rivals.
Following his initial questioning, Liyani says he was then transferred to a communal cell after his jailer instructed that he should not be put in the company of “criminals and drug addicts.”
“As the days passed while I was in jail, I spent [my time] thinking about why I was there, what was happening outside, my family, my colleagues and my friends.”
“After I had been in the jail for a while, another interrogation was carried out by different people, in a different interrogation room and with different questions,” Liyani recounts.
The journalist says that the new interrogators denied outright that he was arrested for belonging to Peshmerga Rojava, and was instead being held under suspicions of joining a “foreign military force.”
“It was the same pattern and the same implication, but the mode of expression was different. [It also] followed a discussion of matters related to journalism, the media and what I had published on my accounts on the social media sites Facebook and Twitter.”
Following this latest round of questioning, Liyani was handed over to Kurdish military police and eventually transferred to the Self-Defense Forces' Karzero military training camp near Girke Lege.
Young men in the autonomous Kurdish regions of Syria face mandatory "self-defense duty" military service, receiving training in the Self-Defense Force that supplements the People's Protection Units (YPG).
“I became a soldier in the Self-Defense Duty institution’s course 16. All of the days that I have spent in the Karzero camp have been more comfortable, more respectful and more humane than the conduct of the Asayesh, despite the fact that it is a training camp," Liyani says.
He adds that he has since been released on a six-day leave, and is now contemplating his future in Syria’s Kurdish region.
“I either have to complete my [military service] in the Self-Defense Duty [institution] or leave Kurdistan’s Rojava forever.”
NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Ullin Hope translated the Arabic-language source material.
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