School of Syrian Christians Closed by PKK

ICC Note: Assyrian Christians living in northern Syria are concerned after Kurdish PKK officials closed one of their schools after it refused to adopt a Kurdish curriculum. The forced imposition of this curriculum on Christian schools has been condemned by Syriac Orthodox Bishop Maurice Amsih since 2016. This latest report comes at a time when it is expected that the Syrian government will soon take control of the area’s schools. School curriculums in the Middle East are a heavily contested topic, as they are often Islamic in nature and thus create a challenging environment for Christian students.

08/10/2018 Syria (AINA) – Kurdish PKK authorities closed an Assyrian school in Derbiseye, Syria after Assyrian school officials refused to adopt a Kurdish teaching curriculum. The Kurdish PKK prosecutor in Derik/Malikiye, Syria, issued the order on August 7, which is Assyrian Martyrs Day.

The Syrian government is expected to take control of all schools in the area in the upcoming weeks, but that did not stop PKK officials from attempting to impose the Kurdish curriculum on Assyrians.

The PKK has targeted Assyrian schools in the past. In November, 2015 sixteen Assyrian and Armenian organizations issued a statement protesting Kurdish expropriation of private property in the Hasaka province of Syria. The statement accused the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian wing of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), of human rights violations, expropriation of private property, illegal military conscription and interference in church school curricula (AINA 2015-11-02, 2016-05-24).

The Kurdish-language primary school curricula introduced by the PYD-led Kurdish authorities in northern Syria in October, 2015 was heavily criticized for being too ideological and “prioritizing a single view over all others.” (AINA 2015-10-21)

The Assyrian Bishop in Hasaka, Maurice Amsih, denounced the Kurdish curriculum in September, 2016 (AINA 2016-09-16).

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