There is a fascinating France24 news story that takes the viewers inside Kurdish jails and courtrooms for the captured ISIS prisoners in Syria. Even if one removes all the positive spin and all the pro-Ocalan propaganda from the footage, Kurdish authorities still shine as genuine humanists seeking to civilise a hitherto brutalised society.
There are shots of a prison dormitory, the barbershop, the visiting hall, workshops, and the courtroom. Inside the dormitory look much better and less crowded than I expected; they have electricity and a big screen TV. The guard actually asked for the prisoners’ permission before allowing the cameraman to film them.
Then, there is an ISIS prisoner joking and talking in a barber’s seat about looking all nice and sharp for his visiting wife. He has Valentine’s Day gift for her too. In the workshop, a former ISIS prison guard, sentenced to 20 years, paint car number plates. Nearly all prisoners have cigarettes dangling from their lips which was haram in their days.
In one case, the female judge of the three-member “People’s Defence Court” hands down 6 years of imprisonment to a young ISIS fighter who had surrendered, with the sentence reduced to 3 years for “extenuating circumstances”. “The sentence is too long. I regret it,” the prisoner says. “Do you know what sentence you would have if you were being judged by Iraqi or Syrian regimes,” responds one of the judges.
Some will criticise the light punishment these captured fighters are getting considering the severity of ISIS crimes. But the reality is lighter sentences to those who have surrendered, confessed, and expressed regret for their actions is the right thing to do to establish peace between communities. This is a project to build a new society with new values that is superior to its fascist/jihadist precedents.
Kurdish authorities, the YPG, the SDF, Americans, NATO, the coalition, and the whole world must help maintain these humane and civil standards against the barbarism delivered by Turkish-jihadi invaders.