News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
(ANF/AZİZ KÖYLÜOĞLU – AMÛDÊ) Hakem Xelo, the President of the Justice Commission in the Cizîre Canton, has spoken to reporters about the construction of a new legal system and the progress of the democratic project in Rojava more generally. Xelo also drew attention to the discussions around the formation of a constitutional court and the work around the High Election Board, with ongoing meetings concerning the organization of a general election within the coming months.
The Cizîre Canton is one of the three cantons of Rojava, and officially declared autonomy on January 21st. The canton recognizes three official languages and is governed by a president, two vice-presidents, 22 ministries and 101-person assembly.
A Constitutional Court Could Be Founded
Xelo told ANF that in order to increase the functionality of the Legislative Assembly it is necessary to form working procedures, saying “in order to form committees we are trying to clarify the internal rules and operations of the parliament. One of these committees will be a law committee. It is also possible this could quickly turn into the founding of a constitutional court. Thirdly, the High Election Board needs to come together for elections which are scheduled to be held within four months. Also the commission members (assistant ministers) must be approved by the Legislative Parliament in compliance with the Social Contract. Until now the Legislative Assembly has not met but within the shortest time possible they will meet and approve these duties.”
Legal Shortcomings In The Region Will Be Addressed
Xelo, in discussing the Cizîre Canton’s Legislative Assembly, affirmed that 10 committees that will work with the Ministries will be confirmed, saying “up to now we have formed 10 committees to formulate the internal rules of the Legislative Assembly. These will work together with the differ commissions. According to the drafts we have prepared this committee will work together with two ministries. As necessary they will prepare laws and submit them to the assembly. Until this system is set up we are directing this work. Right now there are legal shortcomings, and for this reason we are obligated, both as the government and the legislative assembly, to move quickly.”
Xelo said that this process would benefit from the experiments carried out by the organizations working around TEV-DEM over the past two years, saying “again some specialist committees may be formed on certain subjects. Some ministries and committees may experience difficulty in their work however it is necessary not to forget that we have been governing ourself in our areas for two years. There has been experimentation and a certain experience has been gained. These two years of work have formed a solid foundation for today’s autonomous governments.
Particularly as the Justice Commission we have met with the Council of Justice and have requested their help. We meet with all organizations and work together.”
The Constitutional Court Will Consist of 7 Judges
Speaking on the subject of the constitutional court, Xelo said that the authority of the court would derive from the Social Contract. “The Constitutional Court will have seven members in Accordance with the Social Contract,” Xelo said, “their names will be announced by the vice-presidents of the Legislative Assembly and will be presented to the Executive Assembly. The Executive Assembly will choose these candidates on the principle of majority vote. We have already announced certain names.”
We Will Try To Hold The Elections On Schedule
On the topic of the upcoming election, Xelo maintained that they would be held on schedule, saying “Both the Executive Assembly and the Legislative Assembly were chose for a temporary period. No matter how difficult the circumstances are in which we find ourselves we will provide for the sovereignty of the people. The Executive Assembly and the Legislative Assembly are assemblies not chosen by election but by appointment. For this reason we wanted to set up the High Election Board without delay and to recommend that elections take place on time. The specific dates will be determined in the Legislative Assembly. There are certain difficulties as regards the elections. The determination of the borders of each canton, as well as of the electorate and the voting-registration need to take place. If our preparations are not completed within four months the assembly has the authority to extend this period.
A Census Is Not Now Possible
Among the many difficulties surrounding this process, Xelo pointed to the impossibility of holding a proper census and of holding in elections in areas outside the control of the autonomous cantons. Xelo explained the situation thus: “The elections will be held in places under control of YPG forces. That is to say that the election can only take place in areas under their administration. Some places are a part of Rojava but because they are not under our administration we will not be able to hold elections there. At the same time we cannot now hold a census. However we will take will accept family registration. There are also some problems on this subject. As a result of the chauvinist policies that the Syrian Regime put in place places of residency have been confused. For example despite the fact that a family lives in Heseke it appears that they are registered in Amûde. But at the same time we will exhibit every effort so that all people will be able to vote.
Arabs In Rojava Under the Influence of the Baath Regime
When asked why so few Arabs were participating in the government of Democratic Autonomy, Xelo responded saying “In particular in the Cizîre Canton and in Rojava in general, Arabs settled as part of the Arab belt or in another way are under the influence of the Arab chauvinism of the Baath regime. The Arab movements in the region until very recently were working in conjunction with the Baath regime. When the Baath regime fell (here) they also left. Separately, Arabs were approaching the project hesitantly when Democratic Autonomy was established in the region because of propaganda that it opening a road to the break up of Syria. However as our system came together a bit Arabs started to make their desire for participation evident.”
Who Is Against Democratic Autonomy?
On the question of which elements are forces opposed the project of Democratic Autonomy, Xelo said, “There are certain Kurdish parties who today think that the work towards Democratic Autonomy is the work of only one party – the Democratic Union Party (PYD). These parties were involved in the establishment efforts of Democratic Autonomy until just recently. Another opponent of Democratic Autonomy is a segment of the Syrian opposition and this is simply a continuation of the Baath regime mentality. These groups are not the side of the establishment of a democratic system that takes as its principal of the will of the people in the region. In the same way as came out as Geneva 2, neither problems of the Kurds nor the Syriacs nor of other peoples were on the agenda. This is not only an attitude against these people. It is against the democratic values desired by these people. Because we are not only demanding a democratic system for Syria but for the entire Middle East. For example in the education system here three languages have a place and if other peoples want they can also take education in their own native languages. But if they are defending the sovereignty of one nation, one language, one religion or one sect then of course they do not want to accommodate these democratic demands.”
Xelo concluded by thanking those in the other parts of Kurdistan for their support and encouragement, saying “We are thanking our people in the other parts [of Kurdistan]. We get a lot of moral from this. The efforts being expended here will create a general administration for Kurdistan. This construction will be the common construction of the Kurdish people. Our people in Northern Kurdistan have shown us much support. At the same time full support came from political parties in South Kurdistan. At the same time support came from our people living in Europe and the Middle East. We thank you all and extend you our respect.”