10th anniversary of the Qamishlo People's Municipality massacre by ISIS

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the massacre carried out by ISIS at Qamishlo People's Municipality.


The mercenaries of the Islamic State attacked Qamishlo People's Municipality on 11 March 2014, leaving 10 people dead. That day, the Qamishlo People's Municipality was preparing to commemorate the martyrs of the Qamishlo Uprising that occurred in 2004.

As preparations for the commemoration were underway, ISIS mercenaries attacked the municipality building. As a result of the attack, 10 people (8 of them municipality workers) were killed. They were: Cîhan Ferhan Murad, Aleaddîn Ebid El Îlah Osman, Emîne Mihemed Bîlal, Rewşen Mihemed Zekî Îbrahîm, Awaz Mehmud Mihemed, Fehed Ebdilezîz Osman, Helepçe Taha Xelîl, Îbrahîm Melîk Ezîz, Mûsa Azad Mûsa and Eli Xelef Silêman.

ISIS mercenaries claimed responsibility for that brutal attack.

Qamishlo People's Municipality, one of the important achievements of the Rojava Revolution that started on 19 July 2012, became operational in May 2013. On 21 January 2014, the people of Jazira Canton declared the Democratic Autonomous Administration. The 'Local Government and Municipalities Committee' within the Autonomous Governments became one of the pillars of this system.

Shortly after the declaration of the Autonomous Administration, Qamishlo People's Municipality was targeted by ISIS.

First experience in municipality

Sema Bektaş, then co-mayor and Democratic Union Party co-chair (PYD) spokesperson, was one of those injured in the massacre of the Qamishlo People's Municipality.

Sema Bektaş pays tribute to the martyrs and conveys the atmosphere in Rojava at that time. "People's municipalities, one of the first institutions of the Rojava Revolution, were actively providing services to the public even before the Autonomous Administration was declared. Municipalities were taking their place in every aspect of life, playing the role of a kind of Autonomous Administration. The first municipal institution to be organized was Qamishlo People's Municipality.

From 2012 to 2014, we were in dialogue with the municipalities in North Kurdistan. Delegations from Qamishlo People's Municipality attended the conferences held in Amed and Ankara to explain their municipality model, the co-chairmanship system in municipalities and their work in the Rojava Revolution. Since it was an institution established before the declaration of the Autonomous Administration, it was effective among the public and attracted attention outside the region. It was the first institution targeted after the declaration of Autonomous Administration. In 2014, we had reached the stage of enacting municipal laws."

ISIS attacked during preparations for the commemoration of Qamishlo uprising

Qamishlo People's Municipality was crowded before ISIS's attack, said Sema Bektaş, adding: "As a result of this attack, 10 people, 5 women and 5 men, were killd. 8 of them were Qamishlo People's Municipality workers, one was Awaz, who applied to work in the municipality, and the other was a friend who came to visit.

Before the attack, we gathered for a discussion on how could the municipality prepare for the 12 March Qamishlo uprising? Many of the friends who were present at the discussion and were killed in that attack made suggestions about planting saplings in memory of the martyrs and making preparations suitable for the uprising (serhildan) atmosphere. At 10:45 we heard a big explosion. We hid in a room with 10 female friends to protect ourselves. We didn't understand what happened. We could only hear explosions. We went out and encountered an attacker. He attacked us with a bomb, and we went back to where we came from. While Martyr Fehed was trying to catch the attacker, this member of ISIS blew himself up and this is how Fehed fell a martyr. 

Many of our friends were injured in this attack. I was injured, and so were other friends, when we jumped from the balcony. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. After the attack, we watched it on camera. There were 2 attackers and they were controlled by one person. Both ISIS members were between the ages of 15-16. Besides their bodies strapped with bombs, they were also armed. First of all, they killed the security forces of the municipality. They shot everyone they encountered on the stairs. Then they blew up the rooms. In the end, they blew themselves up. Martyr Halabja, Emine and Rewşen were in the Finance room together. The ISIS attacker went to their room and blew himself up, and three friends were martyred in this way."

Qamishlo People's Municipality is a model

Noting that the work of the Qamishlo People's Municipality represented a model at that time and that was why ISIS carried out an attack, Sema Bektaş said: "After this attack, we were thinking about how to go to the municipality building. Our colleagues were killed in that building. But we put our feelings aside. Based on the idea that we should continue in the footsteps of our martyr comrades, we went to the building with the remaining municipal employees and resumed our activities.

Qamishlo People's Municipality was our first municipality model that set an example for other cities in the region. Municipality employees were tranferring their experiences to other cities. Until now, Qamishlo People's Municipality has been serving its people uninterruptedly and keeping the memories of its martyrs alive."

One of the pillars of people's democracy was hit

Qamishlo People's Municipality and Ecology Committee member Mesut Yusuf noted that Qamishlo People's Municipality was quickly organized with the beginning of the revolution and said: "With the war, municipalities continued their activities without any disruption in providing services to the public. It continued to work more actively with the declaration of Autonomous Administration in 2014. Seeing that municipal systems, which are the basic building blocks of democracy, were getting stronger, ISIS targeted the municipality. However, this attack could not break the will of our people. On the contrary, activities were intensified. With the elections held in 2017, Qamishlo People's Municipality continued to work in two centers, Xerbî and Şerqî. At the end of 2018, Qamishlo Canton was declared as the People's Municipality and Ecology Committee."

Stating that they are on an expedition to deliver water and electricity to the public in 2023, Mesut Yusuf said: "Hilêliyê, Uweca, Ceqceq and Sefan water stations, which are the water sources of Qamishlo, were repaired. Hilêliyê water tank of 3 thousand m³ was built. Uweca water station, which pumps 250 m³ of water per hour, was repaired. More than 1,200 meters of new water lines were created. The roads were asphalted in 19 neighborhoods, totaling 13 thousand 665 m³."

Union of municipalities council to be created

Noting that reconstruction will be carried out with the Social Contract approved in 2023, Mesut Yusuf concluded his speech by conveying the work they carried out after the Social Contract and their 2024 plans and projects: "By creating a draft municipality law, they moved towards the umbrella organization of the Union of Democratic Municipalities. In February, Jazira Canton Democratic Municipalities Union was declared. Our annual projects are planned in line with public demands and suggestions. After discussions in two sessions, annual plans and projects are determined according to the budget.

Did we achieve the result we wanted? It would be a dream to say that we achieved it 100 percent. However, despite thousands of attacks by the invading Turkish state, we still provide services to our people uninterruptedly. The infrastructure of the region completely collapsed due to the attacks, but we repaired it and mobilized for the needs of the people. Public service has always been a principle for municipalities. Our people protect their municipalities with this sensitivity.

We must organize our municipalities with the understanding that attacks will continue in 2024. In particular, we have projects to completely eliminate the water and electricity problem. In addition, emphasis will be placed on the reorganization of municipalities through the Social Contract, strengthening institutionalization and thus the establishment of the Democratic Municipalities Union Assembly."