human rights watch

torsdag 30 augusti 2018

From the center of democratic education to the occupation zone

From the center of democratic education to the occupation zone
The Afrin region was a pioneer in education in Kurdish. Kurdish literary schools, institutes and the first Kurdish university were opened there. With the occupation, this situation has changed drastically.

Before the Turkish-Jihadi occupation, Afrin was not only a center of Kurdish education, but an example of the development of alternative, rule-free methods of teaching and learning, research and education. The rapid changes in the region had laid the foundation for the liberation of individuals and society from the dominant mentality. Therefore, the educational methods in Afrin were built on the principle of creating a free and democratic individual. In addition, the Arab population was also given the opportunity to participate in education based on the Democratic Nation and the brotherhood of the peoples.
Educational centers were the first target of the occupation
The development of this alternative project was perceived as a threat by the regional powers in particular. On January 20, 2018, the Turkish military, with the support of jihadist militias, began its attacks on Afrin, hitting schools as its first target. The intention was to turn cultural and mental developments into their opposite.
38 schools were demolished
Thirty-eight of the 318 schools run by the Education Council of Afrin were torn down. The schools were providing primary and secondary education for more than 50,000 pupils. According to the Education Council, 3,712 teachers used to work in these schools. In addition, thousands of students visited special schools, kindergartens, music, art and computer schools. With the beginning of the occupation, the first educational unit for the year 2018 had to be stopped for safety reasons. With the continuation of the bombing, the schools could not continue to operate.
Why did the occupiers attack the schools?
The attacks on the schools were direct and planned. In the first days of the military invasion, three schools were hit. A total of 38 schools were destroyed, especially in Rajo and Jindirês. The Education Council reported the attacks on schools at UNESCO, but received no reaction. Eventually, scores of children were killed, about a hundred wounded and thousands driven to flight.
Racist actions against Kurdish students in Afrin
The curriculum and methodology have also been changed. The Turkish occupying forces have urged the Syrian National Coalition (ETILAF) to teach Turkish at the schools. This practice was implemented in Jarablus, al-Bab, Azaz and now in Afrin. According to students, there are currently four hours of Turkish lessons in Afrin. The situation at the schools in Afrin has changed. Kurdish students will be preferred to those who have been relocated from Ghouta, Homs and Idlib. There is only education in Arabic, Turkish and Islamic Studies. The majority of teachers also come from outside.
The schools were converted into military bases and torture centers
Many of the schools were converted into military bases by the occupation forces. One of these is the Emîr Xubarî School at Azadî Square that is now used by the Turkish intelligence. The Elesdîqa School was transformed into a police station and the Elkerema School into a center of the Turkish state and its militias.
Of the two schools in Shêra, one has been turned into a prison and one into a Turkish military base. The school in the village of Shîtka in Shiyê is now a torture center where kidnapped civilians are being held. On the walls of the schools and universities are racist slogans such as " Afrin is and remains Arabic".
Turkification, chauvinism and brainwashing
Mihemed Ebdê, a Kurdish teacher and member of the Committee for Democratic Formation of the Society, says: "The focus is primarily on knowledge sources. This shows that the Turkish occupation forces still proceed with Ottoman mentality and destroy everything that stands against this mentality."
The education system in Afrin has been completely reorganized and an attempt is being made to spread Turkish culture in the region: "When the schools reopened in Afrin, Turkish flags were hoisted and Turkish flags were handed to all children. They want to lay the foundation for a Turkification of the society. If Afrin is not liberated, it will be Turkified."
Ibidê says Turkification is one of the racist methods of the Turkish state, which is used in all areas occupied by Turkey and its militias, and is directed especially against the Kurds and Armenians.
Some publicized recordings make clear the Turkification politics in the region. On some pictures Turkish soldiers and village children make the fascist "wolf salute", on others one can see how teachers force children from Afrin into Turkish nationalist marches.
Mother language instruction for children from Afrin in exile in Shehba
Despite the exile situation, the education of children from Afrin continues in their native languages ​​and the values ​​of the brotherhood of the peoples. The children develop in the knowledge that they will rebuild the destroyed schools in Afrin after their return. The Education Committee has opened dozens of schools in Shehba. Final examinations have already taken place at primary schools. In order for students to continue their education at the universities of Firat (Euphrates) and Cizirê regions, secondary school examinations will also be carried out.
Secondary and higher education in Afrin
Before the occupation by the Turkish state, the first university and the first institute teaching Kurdish and Arabic had been opened in Afrin. The aim of this first step was to train specialist teachers. The Viyan Amara Institute was established in the city center of Afrin in 2014. Eleven teacher training institutes were based on this center. Here, about 500 students were trained by 82 subject teachers. During the attacks on Afrin by the Turkish state, several students were killed in their villages. After the occupation, the Institute was completely looted and the facilities in the villages and communities were devastated.
The University of Afrin
Afrin University was set up in 2015 in collaboration with some teachers from the Democratic Autonomous Authority. Students who had not completed their academic training in Syria were able to finish their study at the university.
At the University of Afrin there was a medical, an electromechanical, a journalistic, an economic, an agricultural and a Kurdology faculty. With 51 instructors and 20 employees working there, there were 469 students and a library of 3,150 books. There were also laboratories, many more education resources, and dozens of computers.
With the beginning of the invasion, the lesson was stopped. After the occupation, all materials of the university were stolen and looted. The university building has been turned into a dungeon and a torture center.
Some instructors and students were abducted, as was the 67-year-old director of the university, Dr. Abdulmecid Şêxo.

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