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SYRIA: Justice for missing Kurdish student

Fidaa Mohammad Qassem, an 18-year-old student from Kobani, Syria, went missing under mysterious circumstances. On April 6, 2023, she did not return home from her English class. Kobani, her hometown, is mainly Kurdish and run by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) government. It’s believed that Fidaa was taken by the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), a women’s military group linked to AANES, against her will. About two weeks later, YPJ members told her family she chose to join them. However, her family raised concerns, pointing out the lack of communication with Fidaa, which contradicts both local customs and international standards

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the Commander-in-Chief of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), urging her to:

  • Reveal the whereabouts of Fidaa and ensure that she has regular channel of communication with her family.

Send an email to:

General Newroz Ahmed

Email: Ypj_Womensdefend@protonmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/YPJDefense

Salutation: Dear General Newroz Ahmed,

Write to the Syrian Embassy:

Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic

46 Cartier Street

Ottawa, ON K2P 1J3

Authority and Military Structure in North-East Syria

In North-East Syria, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) holds sway, overseeing the region’s governance and security. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a blend of Kurdish and Arab fighters under the leadership of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), form the backbone of AANES’s military might. Within this framework, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) stand out as a significant all-female contingent.

The Disappearance of a Young Student

On the eve of her 18th birthday, Fidaa Mohammad Qassem’s routine journey back from English lessons in Kobani took a mysterious turn. She vanished without a trace, leaving her family and community in distress. Despite initial silence, subsequent revelations surfaced that Fidaa might have been conscripted into the YPJ, fueling controversy and concern.

Nearly three weeks post-disappearance, YPJ representatives claimed that Fidaa had willingly joined their ranks, a statement that raised eyebrows given their prior surveillance of her activities. This claim, however, clashed with the family’s inability to verify her status or communicate with her, a situation at odds with the norms for conscripts.

Missing Student in Syria: The need for clarity

This situation highlights the laws about military service in areas governed by AANES. Here, women can choose to join the military, but men aged 18 to 40 must join by law. Fidaa’s situation raises concerns about how these laws are used and emphasizes the importance of clear and fair legal practices that respect human rights in the area.

Please send your appeals until March 25, 2024.