AINA News
Assyrians in Northern Syria Condemn School Closures By Kurds
By Bar Daisan

The Amal Assyrian Elementary School in Hasaka, Syria.
(AINA) -- In a letter sent to the so-called "Autonomous Self-Government in the Jezira Region," the German Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV), the Assyrian Federation in Germany and the European Sections (ZAVD) appealed to the Kurdish authorities in the northern Syria region of Jazira not to impose new curricula on Christian private schools in the province of Al-Hasakah. The letter was signed by Society's Middle East spokesman Kamal Sido and Aziz Said, President of the Assyrian Federation in Germany.

"Many Assyrian and Armenian Christians fear that their children's credentials will not be recognized by the Syrian government or elsewhere, and their future plans may be curtailed," said Society's spokesman Kamal Sido on Tuesday in Goettingen. He warned that "the worries and fears of Christian communities must be taken seriously on an equal footing. Otherwise it can quickly give the impression that Christians in northern Syria are no longer welcome. The region has also been home to them for millennia."

The Assyrian communities in Jazira feel pressured by an administrative decree issued by the Democratic Union Party or PYD (affiliated with PKK) authorities to immediately "re-register" their private and church schools in Al-Hasakah province. "Many are worried that this decree could mean a complete closure of these schools if they do not comply," said Sido. Around 7,000 pupils would then no longer have lessons. The new school year begins in early September, 2018.

Kurdish authorities closed a Assyrian school in Derbiseye after Assyrian school officials refused to adopt a Kurdish teaching curriculum (AINA 2018-08-09).

In a press release, the Assyrian Democratic Party (ADP) accused the YPG of "intimidating" the region's Assyrian community. "The YPG is harming education by promoting its ideologies through school curricula," and demanded that the Kurds immediately allow the schools to reopen.

Various Assyrian groups, among them the Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO), a founding member of the Syrian Opposition, also condemned the closures. The ADO said in a statement:

We strongly condemn this arbitrary decision by the self-governing authorities, and we believe that it targets the Assyrian Syriac people and exerts more pressure on them...the concern shown by this administration for the unity of the country contradicts the democratic claims that it boasts, the core of which is the freedom of education. We emphasize that the position of the YPG reflects a deficient vision and serves to strike the rest of the educational process and deprive the students to continue their study by imposing certain ideological approaches that have not convinced even the supervisors of teh schools.

Assyrians are demanding the Kurdish PYD group to immediately revoke the decision, to allow the opening of Assyrian schools in Derek and Darbasiya and to allow all students from different ethnicities who want to register in order for them to start the new school year.

The private Assyrian schools, among them those administered by the Syriac Orthodox Church, have been operating in the region since mid-1930s and teach a curriculum specialized in the Assyrian language and religion developed jointly with the Syrian Education Ministry.


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