By Emel Oz Gozellik
ANKARA (AA) – The PYD/PKK terrorist group is kidnapping Christian teenagers and forcing them to go to the front lines in Afrin, Syria, in the latest case of the group’s intimidation and threats against the minority community.
According to the World Council of Arameans (WCA), Christians are facing more and more oppression from the Kurdish YPG -- the armed branch of the PYD/PKK -- and so-called security forces called “Asayesh.”
On Jan. 19, seven Christians, four Armenians, and three Arameans, also known as Syriacs, were abducted and faced grave human rights violations, the group said, citing local Christian sources who -- like other sources in this story -- spoke on condition of anonymity due to fears for their safety.
“Nevertheless, following intense negotiations, all of them were released except for the 20-year young Aramean Saliba A., who was snatched in broad daylight out of his shop in Qamishli by the Asayesh,” the WCA said.
Saliba was first held near Qamishli -- a northeastern Syrian city near the border with Turkey -- where the PYD/PKK has a base, but his current condition is unknown.
“Every day they kept telling us that he will be released soon. Then they said tonight, then they said tomorrow morning. After 10 days, we stopped believing their empty promises and are concerned about Saliba’s well-being,” said a friend of Saliba who is following the issue closely.
A negotiator, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the terrorist PYD/PKK is indirectly forcing people to leave their homes to grab more territory.
“The Asayesh, who seize our young people, tell us that they have handed them over to the YPG, the Kurdish armed unit. But the YPG tells us to contact the Asayesh.
“They’re playing games with us and trying to make us scared. They want us to abandon our homeland so that they can seize more of our properties and land.”
- Kidnapped university students
The WCA reported that two more Christians were recently kidnapped.
Isho Hanna and Elias Hanna, both 19-year old Aramean students from Qamishli, had exams and were on their way to the university in Hasakah when they were kidnapped by the Asayesh. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
Teens with no military training are being forcibly taken from the streets, schools, and shops to be sent to battle zones in or near Afrin.
This happens “because these people consider themselves the new rulers of our region,” another local anonymous source said.
Johny Messo, the head of the WCA, strongly condemned the ongoing terror campaign by the PYD/PKK terrorists and Asayesh.
“Our people on the ground keep telling us about all sorts of human rights violations, including the confiscation of land, intimidations, threats, and a rising wave of kidnappings. This must immediately end. We demand that the Kurdish YPG forces respect Syria’s native Arameans. We further call on the U.S. to make this critical message clear to the YPG.”
Against Turkey’s strong objections, the U.S. has continued to work with and aid the YPG/PKK, calling it a “trusted ally” in the fight against Daesh despite its terrorist status.
Before Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011, there had been more than two million Christians in Syria, until hundreds of thousands of Arameans fled their war-torn homeland. They are indigenous people of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon.