Syriac officials of North and East Syria defend newly passed Absentee Property Act against claims it will lead to seizures

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — In response to criticism of a law concerning the status of property vacant in areas administered by the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA), officials have clarified the aims and limitations of the law, refuting the claim that it will result in seizures of vacant property.

On 5 August, the General Council of North and East Syria passed the Protection and Management of Absentee Property Act.

Siham Qiryo, Co-Chair of the General Council of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and Head of the Syriac Women’s Union in Syria, spoke with SuroyoTV about the purpose of the Absentee Property Act.

According to Qiryo, the Act calls for the Executive Council to form a Committee for Absentee Property, composed of 11 people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, to account for, protect, and preserve the property of absentee property owners.

The Act applies to anyone who has been outside of Syria for over a year and has left their property vacant during that time.

The Committee is not entitled to sell or purchase the property of absentees, however “The Committee is entitled to invest in and rent the property of the absentee during the period the property is left vacant,” said Qiryo.

As for the property of the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian Christians, Qiryo stated that they had long ago established committees in Jazira Region to manage and protect the property of absentees. They will, however, form a new committee encompassing the properties of all absentee Chaldeans–Syriacs–Assyrians in North and East Syria tasked with investing in the property of the absentees and maintaining them until the return of the absent to Syria.

Co-Chair of the Syriac Union Party (SUP) in Syria Sanharib Barsoum took to Facebook to explain the law will not result in the seizure of absentee property, as critics have claimed, but will prevent degradation of the property through extended vacancy.

The law is for the protection of property and not its seizure and is in no way contradictory with the Social Contract of the region and international laws, clarified Barsoum.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of North and East Syria have been slandered as a “terrorist force” that discplac[es] and fight[s] … Arabs” and is engaging in a “separatist project”, wrote Barsoum. The distortion of the Absentee Property Act is only the latest example of efforts to vilify the DAA and SDF, Barsoum continued.

Sanharib Barsoum, Co-Chair of the Syriac Union Party (SUP) in Syria.

Barsoum pointed the finger at Turkey and the Syrian regime for the concerted efforts to undermine the local administration:

“The attack of the Syrian and Turkish regimes on the DAA are taking place because they do not want the peoples of the region to have free will and administration. However, the stance of some groups in Syria that are drawn into the systematic campaigns of these regimes that have displaced people and continually violate their rights have suddenly turned into fierce advocates of the property rights of emigrants.”

“The contradiction appears among those who constantly demand democracy for Syria and at the same time they stand by tyrannical regimes and support their campaigns against the democratic project in North and East Syria,” the statement concluded.