Homeless people forced teachers to spread propaganda in northeastern Syria
Teachers are required to register on social media platforms for online campaigns and other purposes. And applicants for teaching positions are invited to take a course designed to glorify the homeless and its leaders.
The predominantly Arab towns and neighborhoods of northeastern Syria are subject to rapid ideological change triggered by the SDF, dominated by the YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK. The PKK is classified as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.
The US-backed SDF is using civilian institutions, including schools, in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor to strengthen its control over the region and gain some degree of acceptance from local Arabs.
Shaheen, a teacher from the rural town of Tishreen in Raqqa, said TRT World the SDF exerts pressure on them through the Education Office which reports to the Raqqa Civil Council (RCC), an administrative body infiltrated by the SDF.
“Periodically, the RCC education office informs us of protests in the city to support PKK ideas, and this usually happens when the SDF loses an area in a battle, and sometimes the protests don’t need to be. specific reason. We come together and chant pro-SDF slogans, ”Shaheen said.
Shaheen said the homeless fired three teachers, who were his colleagues, from a school in Tishreen in August 2019, and arrested one of them for refusing to participate in the homeless-sponsored protests.
“The SDF blackmailed us by saying that we are going to lose our jobs and our wages, the money we earn to feed our families, if we do not join their campaigns and demonstrations. We don’t care about them at all. We don’t know the leader. they talk about, and we had never heard the Kurdish names they repeat all the time to identify Arab towns like Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayan. “
Another teacher named Fatima said the SDF forced all applicants to first take a 45-day “closed course”, during which they are exposed to so-called “PKK principles”, before being hired. in one of the schools in Raqqa. .
“Although I graduated in history from an official Syrian university, this 45-day course was a prerequisite. I asked them to test my history skills if they suspected my degree was wrong or something. I didn’t have 45 days to spare for their course because of my responsibilities to my family. They refused, so I had no choice but to take the course, ”said Fatima, 29.
Fatima soon realized that the course was in stark contrast to the concept of teaching and learning. Instead, she said, it was to glorify the terrorist group PKK and its leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been in a Turkish prison since 1999.
“I have often asked myself and trusted friends: what do we have to do with all of this? Why are we wasting our time?
“What annoyed me the most was that they didn’t even know the people of Raqqa; they tried to use Islam to make us believe in the PKK thought process. They viewed Raqqa and its inhabitants as supporters of Daesh, so they thought they could make us believe in their ideology using Islamic terms and examples. In one of the classes, a Kurdish-speaking man who could barely speak Arabic praised Ocalan and the way he memorized the Koran or gave Islamic lectures in mosques ”.
In addition to forcing teachers to submit by deploying various tactics, the SDF is pushing them to sign up on social media platforms like Twitter and join pro-PKK trolls in endorsing their programs and campaigns.
Khalil, a teacher in Raqqa, received instructions from his superiors to create a group of WhatsApp teachers and distribute SDF content there.
In a recent SDF Twitter campaign led by spokesperson Ferhad Shami, most responses came from accounts created between June and September, when teachers in Raqqa were ordered to create accounts on the SDF. social networks.
Khalil said the SDF sought the forced consent of teachers before asking them to create social media accounts and spread disinformation through other means of communication.
Several human rights groups have expressed concerns about the SDF’s continued attempts to change the demographic makeup of northeastern Syria. In October 2019, a Syrian research center named Hibr released a report highlighting “violations and demographic changes” committed by the SDF and its factions in northeastern Syria.
Diluting Arab populations with non-Arabs is an essential part of the SDF’s playbook. Things worsen for local Arabs when they are forced to join the ranks of the SDF. In June this year, eight Syrian Arabs were shot dead in the Manbij area by the SDF during a protest against forced registrations.
[Note: TRT World withheld the first names of Shaheen and Khalil and the surname of Fatima to ensure they do not face any kind of reprisal for speaking out against the SDF’s repression.]
Source: TRT World