Pulitzer-winning journalist reveals human rights abuses by YPG, backed by Obama administration
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULFeb 10, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 10, 2017 12:00 am
The PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), have been systematic violators of human rights in northern Syria and the situation was played down by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, according to Pulitzer-prize winning American journalist Roy Gutman. In his article titled "Have the Syrian Kurds Committed War Crimes?" published in the Nation magazine on Tuesday, Gutman said YPG terrorists, who have been supplied and used as ground troops by the Obama administration in the war against Daesh, are causing the displacement of tens of thousands of Arabs from the region.
Turkey has long criticized Washington for providing arms to the PYD, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization, which is regarding as a terror group by the U.S., the European Union and Turkey. Despite Ankara often expressing the opinion that using a terrorist group against another is not the right move, the U.S. neglected Turkey's objections and continues to support the YPG.
"A six-month investigation shows that the militia, reportedly under the strong influence of Iran and the Assad regime, has evicted Arabs from their homes at gunpoint starting in 2013 and subsequently has blown up, torched, or bulldozed their homes and villages," the article says. The article was written after interviewing numerous refugees, militia officials, former militia members, former Syrian government officials, political activists and officials in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Gutman's report is not the first one to draw attention to serious crimes committed by the U.S.-backed YPG terrorists. The PYD's atrocities against opposition groups in Syria have also been reported by several human rights groups. In August 2015, The KurdWatch, a monitoring group watching Kurdish rights violations in Syria, claimed in a report that the PYD forcibly recruits and deploys child soldiers as young as 12 years old. Also, in January 2016, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said the PYD has committed multiple human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing and abuse against women, children and journalists.
At least 300,000 Syrian Kurds fled to neighboring Iraq from the PYD-controlled areas, according to officials there, and no fewer than 200,000 have fled to Turkey in order to avoid forced conscription and political suppression by the PYD, which insists on ruling as a one-party state, according to Kurdish human rights monitors. The report also suggests that at least half the Kurdish population under PYD control would flee, if the PYD opened the borders.
The Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist also specifically comments on the role of the Obama administration in the YPG's abuses by asserting the extent of the human right violations, especially expulsions, geared up dramatically after Washington began joint operations with the YPG against Daesh in Syria in mid-2015. "The Kurdish militia threatened Arabs with airstrikes if they didn't leave their villages. While they slowed in 2016, expulsions continue even as the militia turns on its political rivals and jails, tortures, or expels them," wrote Gutman.
The Obama administration insisted that the PKK, listed by the U.S. as a terrorist group, is separate from the YPG. At a panel in the U.S. Congress in April last year, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter made a puzzling statement about the PYD after being asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham whether the PYD and the YPG are aligned with the PKK terrorist organization. Carter admitted the link between the PKK and the PYD and acknowledged that the PKK is a U.S.-designated terrorist group, however, he refused to call the PYD a terrorist organization.
After Trump's election to the U.S. presidency, Turkey said it hopes the new president "does not make similar mistakes against its NATO ally as the Obama administration did" and expressed its expectation that the U.S. stop arming and cooperating with the PYD and the YPG, reiterating that there cannot be any distinction between good and bad terrorist organizations.