Tel Marouf / Tall Maruf

Tel Marouf is a small town in northern Syria that was severely assaulted in 2014 by the extremist al-Nusra Front, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda that renamed itself as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) resisted and eventually retook the area, but at the time, the entire population of Tel Marouf was forced to flee. Only after some years, 340 out of the 600 households returned. Most of the infrastructure was damaged; even the local mosque had been bombed by the attackers.

“Letting society solve its own problems”: Developing a New Justice System in Northern Syria

The Syrian regime under the Ba’ath Party of Bashar al-Assad is not only infamous for its war crimes and human rights abuses during the war in Syria, but also held a thick record of systematic violence prior to the uprisings in 2011. Apart from its extensive intelligence apparatus, its law and justice system enshrined authoritarianism and state power in the legal realm. The population of Syria, and minorities in particular, were taught to fear the law as the representative will of the oppressive state. In northern Syria, since the beginning of the revolution in Rojava in 2012, manifold initiatives have been systematically launched to undo the state and its domination not only in the realm of politics and society, but also in the psychology of people, who experienced not only Assad’s regime, but more recently the fascist rule of ISIS. Efforts are led not only in the sphere of law and justice, but also in the realm of grassroots-organizing, education and political, economic and social action. There are many difficulties however. What could an alternative, non-statist justice system look like? Let us take a look at Anja Hoffmann’s observations from an Arabic language justice academy in Tel Marouf…