Statement on the “Census” in Syrian Kurdistan

The head of the PYD-controlled administration announced that a census will be conducted in the so called federal states of Jazirah, Afrin and Kobani, and that this census already took place in some cities and villages in the Jazirah. Renownedly, every population census aims at collecting information and data in order to use them for future plans regarding construction and development on different levels. Usually, legitimate authorities decide on such processes which, thereafter, are realized by independent committees and experts at a moment of social stability and security. Finally, international organisations are informed about the results.

Having an objective look at the situation in Syrian Kurdistan, we note that the aforementioned conditions are not fulfilled. It is neither the proper time nor the appropriate space for such a process, nor are the methods chosen the right ones. In addition to the fact that the office chosen to conduct and monitor the census is a political one, this process takes place at a moment when the country and the respective areas are affected by extraordinary circumstances of violence and instability.
More than half of the Syrian-Kurdish people is not living in its territory, but in countries whereto they fled in search of a life in security, freedom and dignity. The predominantely Kurdish areas in Northern Syria are targets of terrorist attacks by the so called Islamic State and the Assad regime as well as of the critical practices by the ruling PYD, as illegal detentions, the restriction of the freedoms of press and expression as well as the forced recruitment of minors for its military forces. As a consequence, a large number of Kurds fled the region, a fact that poses a threat to the demographic characteristics of the region. Moreover, tens of thousands Syrians fled from other war-torn parts of the country to find refuge in the Kurdish territories.
We must also not forget the discriminatory policies and laws of the dictatorial Syrian regime and the Baath government against the Kurdish people, including the arbitrary Hasakah census and its ‘maktumin’ victims as well as the ‘Arab Belt’ project and the settlement of the so called Machmurin. Their consequences still affect the people and the area.
Having this in mind, it is obvious that the purpose of the census is not to produce reliable population statistics, but there are rather political objectives behind it.
That is why the Kurdish people, and other social components as well, fear that this census will legitimate the demographic changes taking place on a daily basis and threatening the identity and existence of the Kurdish people.

The Kurdish National Council announces its rejection of the census and emphasises that the result won’t be accepted. At the same time, the KNC demands from the PYD to stop the census and all unilateral decisions and political practices which harm our people. We call upon the international community and the responsible organisations to inhibit such activities and to do everything to relieve our people of its existential fears. The cultural and political rights of the Kurds must be recognised, latest when peace, security and stability – goals all Syrians strive for – are achieved.

General Secretariat of the Kurdish National Council in Syria
Qamișlo, 20 September 2016