HRW: Kurds in Syria still under heavy repression

HRW: Kurds in Syria still under heavy repression

There was no significant change in Syrian human rights policy and practice in 2010. Authorities continued to broadly violate the civil and political rights of citizens, arresting political and human rights activists, censoring websites, detaining bloggers, and imposing travel bans. The report by Human Rights Watch is clear about the Syrian situation: nothing much has changed.

The report underlined that the "emergency rule, imposed in 1963, remains in effect and Syria's multiple security agencies continue to detain people without arrest warrants, holding them incommunicado for lengthy periods. The Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), an exceptional court with almost no procedural guarantees, regularly sentences Kurdish activists and Islamists to long prison terms."

The repression of political activists continue. The report stressed that "the SSSC sentenced dozens of Kurdish political activists to prison in 2010, including many members of the PYD political party, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). In April the SSSC sentenced four members of the Kurdish Yekiti Party-Yasha Wader, Dilghesh Mamo, Ahmad Darwish, and Nazmi Mohammad-to five years in prison on the charge of undertaking acts "to cut off part of Syrian land." Three other prominent Yekiti members-Hassan Saleh, Muhammad Mustapha, and Ma`ruf Mulla Ahmad-face the same charges in their ongoing trial before the SSSC."

In June a military judge sentenced Mahmud Safo, a member of the Kurdish Left Party, to one year in prison for "inciting sectarian strife" and membership in an unlicensed organization.

Indeed the report pointed out how "Kurds, Syria's largest non-Arab ethnic minority, remain subject to systematic discrimination, including arbitrary denial of citizenship to an estimated 300,000 Syria-born Kurds. Authorities suppress expressions of Kurdish identity and prohibit the teaching of Kurdish in schools."