"In the last two weeks, the Kurdish YPG and security (Asayesh) forces kidnapped several young Arameans in Northeast Syria. The armed forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) continue to conscript them against their will, sending them to battle fields to fight and risk their lives in the frontline in Syria – not for peace, but for an envisioned ‘West Kurdistan’.
The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (WCA) has once again received alarming news from its Aramean people in Syria, who fear for their lives and thus speak on condition of anonymity. They report that the YPG militias seized 50 persons on 16 May in Qamishli and sent them to training camps, against their will, in order to place them in battle zones. Among them were five Arameans: Basil Lahdo, Issa Kuriakos, Adam Koki, Petros Amin and Dani Mkhaylia.
Following intense negotiations between YPG and local Arameans, they agreed on 25 May that YPG would release these innocent youths. However, YPG did not uphold the agreement and, in addition, kidnapped four more youths the following morning. Finally, after much exhorted pressure on YPG, owing to silent diplomacy, seven Arameans were freed. This leaves two detained, Issa Kuriakos and Petros Amin, who will reportedly be released today. However, this remains to be seen.
This is not the first time that YPG undertakes such shameless acts of terror against defenseless minorities in Syria. Mobilizing its armed and security forces, PYD is eyeing for the Christian quarters in Qamishli. They regard this city as the capital of their self-proclaimed autonomous region that is propagated as Rojava (‘West Kurdistan’) and governed under a self-declared constitution. One of the Aramean leaders, who did not dare to be cited by name, expressed his growing concerns as follows to WCA: 'Their ultimate goal is clear. They intend to frighten us with the aim of driving us out of our homeland so that they can take over our houses, businesses and lands.'
Johny Messo, the President of WCA, strongly condemns this ongoing terrorization, declaring: 'These ongoing intimidations, threats, kidnappings, coerced recruitments and confiscation of property and land are a clear message to the indigenous populations. The Kurdish armed YPG militias and their security forces are clearly violating the human rights of a vulnerable minority, tacitly cleansing this region from the Arameans. We demand the immediate release of the remaining two detained young Arameans and a direct end to their abuse of power. Furthermore, we call upon the USA and other countries supporting PYD/YPG/Asayesh to stop empowering them and start enquiring about the last remaining native Christians of Northeast Syria.'
Until the conflict erupted in 2011, Christians constituted 10% (2,3 million) of Syria’s national population. Hundreds of thousands of Arameans have already fled their war-torn homeland. According to most estimates, less than 500,000 Christians have remained in Syria. They have retained their 3,000-year old Aramaic mother tongue, which is widely known as the language of Jesus. The Arameans are the indigenous people of Southeast Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon."