|Syrian Kurdish Refugees in Kurdistan: Stories of Survival|
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – As the pace of violence has remarkably increased in Syria due to the regime’s
brutal crackdown against civilians and participants of the popular uprising across the country, and after the threats of security forces considerably mounted against them, many Syrian Kurds resorted to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region seeking security and peace provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for them.
“It seems that the Kurdish people’s destiny, as many of them confirm, is to suffer,” says Sherzad Shekhani, a Iraqi Kurdish journalist who visited one of the Syrian Kurdish refugees’ camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, adding: “they are still suffering under the rule of repressive regimes. Kurds are either suppressed and persecuted in their homeland or displaced and exiled.”
Shekhani rather likened the situation of Syrian Kurdish refugees with that of Iraqi Kurds in the Iranian refugee camps in 1991—fleeing the tyranny of the Republican Guards’ forces of the Baathi regime at that time; the forced displacement known as Crisis of the Kurds.
“How similar today is to yesterday, both scenes do not differ in any way; thousands of Syrian Kurds are escaping the killing-machine of Assad’s forces, they are escaping the same oppression and brutality which the Iraqi Kurds have once experienced in the time of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq,” Shekhani added.
A recent report by Asharq Alawsat-- an Arabic international newspaper headquartered in London --concerning Syrian Kurdish refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq monitored in-depth scenes from Domez Refugee Camp in Duhok province, north-western Iraq, and revealed stories of some Syrian Kurdish refugees there.
Cihan Yousif is a Kurdish woman who resorted to Domez camp along with her husband and her three children two months ago. Yousif tells the story of her three-times-detention by the Syrian Security Forces, “during the Kurdish uprising of 2004, and as the regime begun to use its Iron-Fist to repress the Kurds, we fled to Iraqi Kurdistan and stayed here for few months before returning to Syria. Once we tried to get settled in Damascus, the security forces raid on our house and I was arrested, and the reason was our resort to Iraqi Kurdistan. I’ve been taken consequently to different sections of Syrian security, including Political Security Section, Military Security Section, and Palestine Section, which contains one of the most horrible and notorious prisons in Syria. I faced all kinds of brutal torture during my detention.”
Cihan Yousif continues: “Since the beginning of the ongoing anti-regime revolution in Syria, Kurds proved that they are a genuine participant in this revolution, and the regime is trying constantly to eliminate it by all means, regardless how many victims would fall; the reason which led me and my family to resort to Kurdistan Region of Iraq to be able thus to protect our children, especially that I have already experienced the detention and torture in Assad’s prisons.”
Yousif commented on the situation in Domez Camp saying: “The situation here, despite some difficulties, is much better than the terrible circumstances we got through in Syria, and even incomparable regarding the freedom and security we have got here in the Kurdistan Region. We are waiting the fall of Syria’s dictator to return home.”
Most of Syrian Kurdish refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan prefer staying in a secure refugee camp there than being in their own houses in Syria where they lack a minimum degree of safety and security, like Asima Hasan who left her home in Qamishly and asked for asylum in Domez Camp along with her husband and son.
“At least we are safe here; not afraid anymore of arrestment, torture, killing, or rape,” Hasan says, “we are only worried about all the relatives we left behind; since they might be threatened and punished by the current tyrannical and brutal regime which is used to punish innocent people for the ‘violations’ of others, and our asylum in the Kurdistan Region could be an adequate reason to put all of our relatives inside Syria in danger.”
Ahmad Jasim is another refugee in Domez Camp who defected from the Syrian Military and resorted recently to Iraqi Kurdistan. “The main task of a military is to protect the people and the homeland, but the Syrian regime wants us to kill civilians, and any soldier refuses to shoot the peaceful anti-regime demonstrators, he will definitely be shot by his officers; the fact which led me and many other Kurdish soldiers to flee the country, and the Kurdistan Region was the safest destination for us,” Jasim told Asharq Alawsat on Monday.
And about the reason why he didn’t participate in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) instead of resorting to Iraqi Kurdistan, Jasim said: “the FSA operates basically in the Arab areas in Syria due to the existence of convenient, appropriate, and helpful nature there, while in the Kurdish area -- a flat area-- there is no suitable geographical nature for a military action, and that’s why we don’t have a Kurdish battalion in the FSA.”
The administrative lieutenant in the headquarter of security office in Domez Camp, Sherwan Abdulkarim, said that the relation between the administration of the camp and the refugees is good, adding that there are no security problems occurred in the centre so far.
“We are trying to provide them all supplies and needs they ask for. Moreover, we are studying the possibility of opening a private school for their children who didn’t have the opportunity to continue with their study in Syria due to the urgent situation of their families, and we are waiting for a decision from the Ministry of Education regarding this issue. We are also trying to provide the men some job opportunities if available,” Abdulkarim said.
Lieutenant Abdulkarim added: “In the administration office of the camp, we are basically responsible for the security of the refugees, and Barzany Charity Foundation is providing all kinds of humanitarian aid to them.”
By ADIB ABDULMAJID