Ali Ibrahim- Dirar Khatab- Mohammad Bassiki:
At Alderbasia city which affiliated to Al-Hasakah governorate, northern east of Syria, middle of November 2017 , the child Aven Sarokhan (12 years) was kidnapped in front of her school ,as her uncle Aram said ,and he asserts that happened in conjunction with a campaign of kidnapping girls, whom they are same to her age, the fifth child in her arrangement between her sisters, who she was going to school for learning Kurdish language .
Her kidnappers denied “they are members of PKK (Kurdistan workers’ party)” that she was existed with them when her mother has gone to one of their headquarters in the city, “but due to existence of witnesses on the kidnapping accident in front of the school, they admitted in that and told her that she will follow a military course then we will returned her back “.
“They lost contact with her completely” as her uncle said, and her father later knew that she is existed on one of fronts in Dier Azzor, after publishing on one of the social media ” FaceBook ” affiliated to the units a photo for her between group of girls, and on the photo was written a comment saying ” your beauty & kindness… don’t hide the revolution which inside you”
“And even , If Aven was kidnapped and was recruited her by compulsory ” as her uncle said. but story of the child Bashar Ahmad (14 years) has a different shape , being that he went by himself to “swedkai ” encampment beside Almalkia at Al Hasaka countryside in November 2016 for training on carrying a weapon, and one of the encampment’s supervisor told his family when they came to visit their son that “you should forget your son ” he became son of the question , and he is not your son after now” as a close source of the family said.
In this investigation ,and during nine months , number of investigators has surveyed cases of recruitment children by through social media accounts (12 cases ) , and has observed of deaths announcements , for 19 Childs under age of 18 , their ages average range between 12-17 years, when they has officially joined to the fighting , and they were held interviews with 7 child’s families ( 5 males – 2 females ) one of them killed on the fronts , and they were recruited in the ranks of ” People’s Protection Units YPG ” and in the factions which affiliated to it ,since of establishing the units in year 2012 until October 2018 .
The recruited children, some of them have dead at the fronts and the units has published his death , and others still fighting ,after their motives have diversified for carrying weapon before reaching adulthood, and the investigation team has observed many methods for recruiting children and some it are innovative ,and we are in the same time hide identities of some minors fighters , and the information resources , for their safety , because they still resident and working in areas of units’ control north of Syria & east .
Recruitment the children in units’ control areas form a part from operations of recruitment children in Syria by the conflict’s parties , and in Arabian countries which have an armed conflicts ,”which multiplied through one year” , and In a report of united nations organization for childhood care “Unicef ” in September 2017 , that the number of recruited children in the middle east conflicts and north of Africa including Syria multiplied through one year , and that number of recruited children whom they have recruitment in the fight have raised from 576 of year 2014 to 1.168 cases of year 2015 “.
The painful side unfolds from size of the phenomenon through documented numbers by the Syrian organization “sound & picture” during the last three years in areas of ” kassad’s” control, for the dead soldiers children , where killed 17 Childs under age of 18 years at least , by targeting locations affiliated to Kurdish Units or during the battles in Raqqa , Aleppo and Deir Azzor , “and these information were documented by one of children who recruited in 2016” as saying the organization director : Sarmad Aljailani .
Rates of the recruitment are rising to double
In a report issued in 3 august of 2018 , “Human Rights Watch” said that People’s Protection units ,which are the largest member in the Syria’s Democratic Forces north eastern Syria and they are recruiting the children , between them girls , and they use some of them in the fighting works , in spite of their pledges to stop these thing .
Eight families in three camps for displaced people in north eastern Syria, the organization report said: that individuals from units of the people’s protection and “the Asayish” (police) at the camps have encouraged their children for joining. and these families said that six girls and two guys , their ages between 13 and 17 years were recruited , and most of the families couldn’t communicate with their children since recruitment of them , and they didn’t know , unless from the authorities, that the children were training.
One of the mothers said that her son , who 16 years old when he recruited , and he had a fighting role then died during fighting of the group to recover Al Raqqa city .
Before that , in 16 May of 2018 , the annual report of the United Nations about the children at the armed conflicts has mentioned that : /224/ recruitment cases for children by the People’s Protection Units and their female unit ,happened in year of 2017 ,in increase approximate about five double of the previous year 2016 , and it was 72 from the children , almost a third of the girls ,and in /3/ cases at least , the forces kidnapped the children to recruit them .
Jian A (alias name ) of Afrin population , she says at an interview with investigation team in middle of 2017 , which during it was recruited her son Aldar compulsory at rows of the units of peoples’ protection last year :” my son was born in 2001 , was taken to the Refaat Martyr’s Center (nearby Afrin ), after he signed a paper didn’t know its content , he don’t know reading or writing , and without his parents’ approval ,he went out of the home to fix his cell phone and returned back with military boots” in reference from her for his readiness to join to forces rows .
The lady asserts that her son was recruited, in spite of his suffering from disease of Ischemia in the brain (it happens due to temporary interruption of blood supply to a part of the brain, and this disorders of blood supplies lead to lack of oxygen which reaches to the brain) and she was notified that son will return back as soon as finished off following the military course after he has got an alias name ” Avindar Afrin “.
The uncle’s wedding night
At 10:30 pm on 23 December 2017, a thirty years old youth holding Kalashnikov has stopped with 8 armed persons holding light individual weapons in front of wedding hall at Ain Arab– Kubani, the cold weather was harsh , and the most of whom were at the hall were starting to go out , during this night the youth Jwan Ahmad Muslem who is a leader of group in Syria’s Democratic Forces has come , with his armed group and took out a child was attending his uncle’s wedding , and put him into a four-wheel car then they went to west of the city in 30 km to “Shuyukh Camp” .
At sunrise of the next day which didn’t adequate for making the parents of the child Kamiran Mustafa Allu (12 years) of” Yadi Qwi ” village south city of Ain Al Arab /Kubani /in 7 km to know , their child’s fate , who was arrested in his Uncle Ahmad’s wedding night . but later has shown by the investigation team that the child was kidnapped for compulsory recruitment purpose, that according to what mentioned from Shirazan Allu , the uncle’s son of the kidnapped child Kamiran , and he asserts that they enabled to know that the child at the camp in Shuyukh’s Township at Jarablus countryside, ” and this camp is specialized in training of children ,and the camp have dozens of minors kidnapped children” according to Allu.
He is saying that “large number of the children have kidnapped in this camp, but families of those don’t have the courage to transfer their files to the media & the legal international organizations because the fear of the Repression”.
Using children in the aggressive works
And based to that recruitment of the children is against to the international conventions, where the optional protocol of the child rights which relates in contribution of the children at armed conflicts ,is provides that : the armed groups which not affiliated to the state should not recruit the children under age of 18 years for any purpose . Thus the article 1 of the Child Rights’ Convention in the protocol determines that “the intended of child is every human his age under 18 years” according to the protocol.
And report of “recruitment children and using them in the aggressive works in the International Law of 2017″ which investigation team have obtained a copy of it , refers to continues of recruitment children at units’ areas after entering an amendment to a convention between them and International Organization , which was held to reduce this phenomenon, where ”the People’s Protection Units , Woman Protection’s Units and The Self Administration have signed on (the obligation deed ) by virtue of Geneva Appeal .
that they will be forced a complete prohibition for using the children under age of 18 years at the aggressive works , but in contrary to the provisions of the optional protocol , the units entered a proviso ,which provides to allow for children of age /16/ years and above to become members at forces of People’s Protection Units by their own free will , and they will contribute in unmilitary activities , and they are not allowed to contribute directly or indirectly in aggressive works ” and in June ” Geneva Appeal ” has announced that the group will amend the conduct rules’ blog , which they adopt it ,where is not allowed only who above 17 years or more for joining .
The writer Hoshank Awsi , living in Belgium and who is following-up the object of recruitment of children ,is considers that the reason which makes the Democratic Union’s Party PYD and its military arm the People Protection’s Units YPG for recruiting children is its need to fighters , to fill of the fronts under the pretext of fighting” Isis” Organization and protects the Kurdish areas from the terrorist & expiatory organizations , referring to that recruiting of the children is one of the supply resources of the fighters , and it is the wars’ fuels of the groups & and the armed parties.
he added that :” there is no another resource to supply the fronts by individuals unless two ways either by Persuasion and satisfaction or the compulsory recruitment for minors & juveniles”.
Methods of the recruitment
the units attract the younger , according of children testimonies , their parents’ testimony , and legal organizations , by establishing private grouping under name of “Kawminat ” one of it only to children.
the Kawmin is like a ” council of the neighborhood or the village “, and it is a name called by the party to neighborhoods’ councils , and the first one of it was established at Afrin city in northern of Aleppo countryside in May of 2017 – before it controlled by armed forces of the Syrian opposition that supported by turkey in last March – in name of “Kawmin of the martyr Jilan Onkul for children “, and Jilan is Turkish girl of Kurdish origin , the supporters of Kurdistan workers’ party is accuse the Turkish army in targeted her in Diar Baker’s State south of turkey in year of 2009 .
That The purpose of opening “Kuminat” of the children is “to organize, aware of them & developing of their cultural, artistic, educational talents &abilities.
The joint president of Afrin’s Kumin for children, Nawar Hasan, is saying in a press statement quoted by the Hawar agency, through events of opening the Kumin,” the children in this Kumin will learn a cultural, Intellectual, literary & educational lessons currently, and by passing of time will be there projects & another plans for developing of the children talents & their abilities ” and she called all the children’s parents to send their children to Kumin.
The attendance at the Kumin, and Learn about PYD Party principles and its thoughts considers a step in path of putting those children on the way of carrying the weapon, when they give them thoughts like “the revenge is the way of liberty” and ” we have been fighting the world for our leader “, as a legal activist of Arfin city are saying. He preferred not to mention his name for security reasons.
In a response published by ” Human Rights Watch” in 3 August of 2018 , which has reached to it from the Self Administration authorities , after the organization’s inquiries of the recruitment children operation , and about putting the children in Kuminat ,where the authorities have admitted in putting the children at private centers whom receiving inside it ” intellectual & occupational training “.
And the response, included reference for ” issuing of the General Command generalization for the people’s protection units & woman in not allow to contribute of whom less than 18 years at the aggressive works under penalty of the legal & moral responsibility, and in case it happened, it will be arrested the direct responsible, in addition to reduce the military rank and the penalty is will be tightened in case of repetition”.
The another way “the soft ” that attracts children by it, by entering of photos of the party & units’ fighters in the study curricula that has imposed by the party in its controlling areas (the self administration areas), and by demonstrate of them as the typical human ethically, the national hero, and naming the streets & schools in names of the dead persons.
The writer Awsi is considers that ” recruitment the children ” is covered by national slogans that flirt the feeling & national emotions for Kurds , in consideration that this fighting is for the demands & legal rights , but this conduct don’t not serves the national thoughts or the national project , and recruiting children according to the international law is a war crime and the war crimes are absolutely not serve the national & legal thoughts to any people “and he considered that ” recruitment of the children by the party, for fighting in another areas as Deir Azzor, Al Raqqa and Kubani (Ain Al Arab ) as a custom for it , and an old conduct “.
According to observers, the phenomenon of recruiting is a general status and not only restricted to the units but also it is sharing it with “Isis” organization and factions of The Armed Syrian Opposition.
And In terms of documentation the phenomenon internationally, Ani Massaghi director of the high commissioner’s office for human rights – the middle east is saying to the investigation team that ” the office has documented number of recruitment children cases in Syria and notified about it , and as a part of working in this regard contributing the Monitoring and reporting mechanism which was assigned that by the security council regarding to the gross committed violations against the children in Syria “.
At 4:00 pm, on the current 8 October, the girl Awish Bozan has gone from her home at Kharbisan village west of Ain Al Arab city – Kubani – and didn’t return yet.
After hours of her disappearances, the child’s family knew from command center of Democratic Union Party (PYD) that she was recruited at The Woman Protection’s Forces and it’s an armed military wing affiliated to the party , as her uncle Adnan Bozan is saying , in a private interview .
According to family’s card and page of the child Awish Bozan , has shown her date of birth on 1-1-2002 , so she didn’t exceed 17 years old , in spite of the family seeking to prove that to the concerned & officials persons on her recruitment but all their attempts did not success to recover her , her uncle is saying ” we has presented the family card which regarding the child to democratic union’s party , and provided to them documents, but unfortunately without getting any benefit “.
Through following- up the child’s status by the family , as her uncle asserts to the investigation team , has shown that Awish was convinced to join to the forces rows by social media, and according to her uncle that ” The Democratic Union’s Party and the military wings which affiliated to it , uses methods for recruiting children by teams or private groups whom communicate with the children by social media or by the local people and they are lured , and at the neighborhoods there are individuals communicate with the children and spread ideas to facilitate attracting the children , like feeling in the freedom and independence and to be a lady of yourself and other of the ideas which the child is attracted behind it without conscious “.
After the family knowing in Awish’s fate, her uncle sent a humanitarian appeal to the local & international organization, asserting that “the operation of recruitment minors still continues at areas of The Democratic Party’s control “, and he added in publication across ” Facebook ” that the above mentioned ” recruits the children under the legal age at their camps and make them involved them in the armed conflicts in Syria, and that breaching to the laws & international humanitarian customs which related to the children rights “.
A way to make money
Another factors make the children join to “fighter’s rows “, it is the family violence and pauperization, after the conflict caused all the last seventh years in rising up its rates to a standard levels.
A report was made by each of the committees of Economical & Social for western Asia , which affiliated to the United Nations (ESCWA) and Saint Androz British university, and it referred to ” that the numbers of Syrians whom living right now under the pauperization line are almost doubled three times and about 83.4 percent of the Syrians are living right now under the pauperization line in comparison with 28 percent of 2010″.
Hussein Alkhashman (14 years ) , of people of “Sbaih ” village , which affiliated to Markada township in Al Hasaka countryside , we have met with one of his relatives at Al Shadadi , who refused to mention of his name for security reasons , said that ” Hussein has joined in February 2017 to YPG due to the need of money without knowing his father , who lost the connection with him , and he has received an amount of /S.P 70.000/ monthly, ($ 145 U.S dollars ), and his armed work was at first only at the work of guard and inspection patrols , then he forced to go in the last September with YPG armed fighters to Deir Azzor countryside for fighting Isis organization , then he has died over there in date of 24 in the same month ” and his death was announced by the official announcement of the People’s Protection Units .
The child ” Helal Jamil ” (alias name ) (17 years ) , one of Alshadadi city at southern of Al Hasaka countryside ,which controlled by PYD fighters , of a poor family , he explains that he felt jealous of his rich colleagues at schools , so one of his friends’ advice for him was to joint to ” Asayish” forces (police forces ) which considered the security arm for the party in its control areas , against of S.P 54000 monthly ($ 110 U.S dollars ) .
Breyanka Motbarthi ,who are doing the works of emergency section’s director in ” Human Rights Watch “said “if the children were run away of the family violence or poverty , the people ‘s protection units would not protect them through recruiting them in its forces . If they were serious in helping those children, they must fulfill their Commitments and provide the alternatives to guarantee that children will not lose their future or their live “.
Fighting roles & double crime
The investigation team communicated with Aldar Khalil , the political leader at Democratic Society’s Movement , and with Moustafa Bali , the spokesman in name of Democratic Syria ‘s Forces , for giving them the opportunity of response and comment on the evidences which documented of the recruiting operations and which proved its continuous in spite of promises to stop it , but no one of them respond until the moment of publishing the investigation .
But “Human Rights Watch “, in a letter for it on 29 June 0f 218 sent to Democratic Syria’s Forces and to the Executive Committee to “the Self Administration ” which affiliated to “Kurdistan Democratic Union Party ” requesting information of the procedures which were taken by the committee to prevent of recruiting & using them at the aggressive works , and they obtained a response was that ” will notifying the families when are recruiting the children , but the children can join by themselves also without approval of their parents”.
According to the legal organization, the letter admitted that the children whom ages ranged between 16 & 17 years old they can join, but they said that they will not do any fighting roles.
Another time, the investigation team went to confront Nouri Alkhalil , the official spokesman in name of People’s Protection Units, about what was reached it, by the investigation team , and considered that the reports which were reported by the legal organizations about continuous of phenomenon of recruiting children’s that it is ” old”, and he is ready to return the recruited children in his units’ rows whom we know them or we documented their joining to the units rows, to their family .
“The crime of recruiting children without approval of their parents is a double crime “as was classified by writer & political analyzer Abdelbaset Seda, he considered that recruiting the people – even they were of adults – without of their approval and by the De facto authorities that don’t have any legitimacy, is a crime punished by the law , and that what have been doing by the PYD units , which not provide itself originally as a Kurdish units “and ” in spite of the pressures on the party (PYD ), it will be continuous in the recruiting , and promises in the commitment, and they will be there pledges in stopping of recruiting children and commitment in the international laws which related in wars & conflicts , and in his role the Syrian Kurdish writer, Hoshank Awsi saying , and he mentioned to that ” it will be thought about how to circumvent these promises, and the continuous of this conduct , because it is one of the sources of the supply of fighters”.
This investigative story was completed by Syrian Investigative Reporting for Accountability Journalism – (SIRAJ) In cooperation with NSO. Published on DARAJ.