PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 24/003/2009
17 February 2009
UA 43/09 Fear of torture or other ill-treatment/possible prisoner of conscience
SYRIA Hassam Hussein ‘Ali (m), aged 31, Kurdish political activist
Kurdish political activist Hassam Hussein ‘Ali has been held in incommunicado detention since his arrest by
Military Intelligence agents on 3 December 2008. He is believed to still be held in the custody of Military
Intelligence, possibly, according to some reports, at its Palestine Branch, an interrogation and detention
centre in Damascus, putting him at serious risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
According to information received by Amnesty International, the whereabouts of Hassam Hussein ‘Ali were
revealed when he managed to send a text message to his friend’s mobile phone from the detention centre.
Amnesty International believes Hassam Hussein ‘Ali may be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the
peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association. He is believed to have been detained
because of his activities as a member of a Kurdish political party, the Kurdish Azadi (Freedom) Party in Syria.
Only the ruling Ba’ath Party and parties allied to it are officially allowed to operate in Syria and supporters of
unauthorized opposition parties are at constant risk of arrest.
Hassam Hussein ‘Ali is also a member of the board of directors of Noubhar Cultural Society that is related to
the Kurdish Azadi party.
Kurds in Syria are subject to serious human rights violations, as are other Syrians, but as a group they also
suffer from identity-based discrimination, including heavy restrictions placed upon the use of the Kurdish
language and culture. In addition, a large proportion of Syrian Kurds are effectively stateless and, as such, are
denied the full provision of education, employment, health and other rights enjoyed by Syrian nationals, as
well as being denied the right to have a nationality and passport. Those deemed to be associated with Kurdish
political parties or groups which raise concerns about the treatment of Kurds in Syria are vulnerable to
arbitrary arrest and detention and in many cases to torture and other ill-treatment.
Torture and other ill-treatment are widespread in Syria’s detention and interrogation centres. In 2008, seven
people were reported to have died as a possible result of abuses in custody. The authorities took no action to
investigate these allegations. “Confessions” extracted under duress are systematically used as evidence in
Syrian courts, and the defendants’ claims that they have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated are almost
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Arabic, French or
your own language:
- expressing concern that Hassam Hussein ‘Ali is detained incommunicado, putting him at risk of torture or
- calling on the authorities to guarantee that Hassam Hussein ‘Ali will not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated,
and reminding them that Syria is a state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;