Angry Protests Against Fuel Price Hikes in Northeastern Syria

Anger has erupted in northeastern Syria over the tripling of fuel prices, writes The Levant News.

On Tuesday morning, several Kurdish cities in northeastern Syria witnessed protests, following the implementation of UN Resolution 119. The resolution provides for a 300 percent increase in fuel and gas prices.

Residents and merchants protested in Qamishli, Hassakeh, and the town of Karaki Laki in northeastern Syria. Shop owners went on strike, closed their shops, and protested, demanding the decision’s reversal.

The protesters carried signs reading “based on the requirements of the public interest, we closed our shops,” and another wrote, “in the light of the drought and volatile weather, we were waiting for you to help, not to raise the price of fuel.”

The decision was shocking to all, political parties within the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the Council of Syria condemned the decision in a statement. They described that decision as “unfair to Kurdish citizens and an unjust and misguided measure. The decision is not commensurate with the citizens’ living conditions who are already suffering from poverty and deprivation.”

Parties of the Executive Council of AANES demand the immediate reversal and repeal of the decision.

“Most people’s wages do not exceed 100 dollars. How will they be able to afford the doubling of prices for consumer goods and transportation (amongst other costs) because of this decision?” asked one protester.

Sadek Mohammed, the joint head of AANES, justified the decision, saying: “The old prices were very low; they were not enough to cover the expenses of AANES.”

“The cost of production is high, as gas is imported for 18,000 Syrian pounds, and then sold to the citizens for 8,000 pounds.”

AANES’s fuel department issued a decision to double fuel prices on Monday, a decision resented by people in the region.

On Monday, AANES raised fuel prices in accordance with “the public interest.” The decision coincided with questions about the decision to raise prices in oil-producing areas, given the suffocating economic crisis causing havoc for citizens — which comes in addition to increasing pressure from COVID-19’s outbreak.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that AANES fired at the protesters, resulting in five injuries, and reported the death of one Syrian Democratic Forces member.

Syrian activists said that, according to sources, the preliminary toll of the clashes was more than one person killed, in addition to five wounded.

In Hassakeh city, the al-Nashwa neighborhood also witnessed attacks on some demonstrators, who had flown the internationally recognized Syrian flag. Clashes also occurred at Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Asayish headquarters, which resulted in three casualties, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights.

Tuesday’s largest protests occurred in the city of al-Shaddadi, where protesters blocked roads by setting fire to rubber tires, amidst traffic stoppages and a full strike called by shops. Similar events took place in the eastern countryside of al-Maabadah, as well as Qamishli in rural al-Qahtaniyah.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented protests against the decision in al-Shaddadi, District 47, al-Atala village, and other communities in rural Hassakeh.

While al-Malikiyah (Derik) witnessed a vigil protesting the decision, Autonomous Administration officials joined popular demands on social media. The vigil called on Qamishlo province’s president and the al-Jazeera region’s Minister of Energy and Electricity to review the decision.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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