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Syria: Further information: Kurds denied access to lawyers ahead of trial

, Index number: MDE 24/010/2011

Three Kurdish prisoners of conscience, on trial before a Syrian special court since 6 June 2010, remain without access to their lawyers ahead of their next court hearing on 13 March 2011. The men’s lawyers have announced that they are now boycotting the trial in protest.

Further information on UA: 26/10 Index: MDE 24/010/2011 Syria Date: 11 March 2011
URGENT ACTION
KURDS DENIED ACCESS TO LAWYERS AHEAD OF TRIAL
Three Kurdish prisoners of conscience, on trial before a Syrian special court since 6 June 2010,
remain without access to their lawyers ahead of their next court hearing on 13 March 2011. The
men’s lawyers have announced that they are now boycotting the trial in protest.
Hassan Saleh, Ma’rouf Mulla Ahmed and Muhammad Ahmed Mustafa, all senior members of the unauthorized
Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria, are on trial before the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), an exceptional court
whose proceedings fall far short of international fair trial standards. They are charged with “aiming at separating part
of the Syrian lands” and “joining an international political or social organization, apparently after calling for the
Kurdish areas of Syria to be granted autonomy during their party’s conference on 3 December 2009.
On 9 March 2011, the three men’s defence team issued a statement announcing that they are boycotting the men’s
trial before the SSSC because of a number of shortcomings including that their clients are deprived of their right to
legal counsel.
According to sources from Syria, during a court hearing on 20 July 2010, the three men were brought to the
courtroom and placed in the defendants’ cage, but were not allowed to talk to their lawyers or even shake their
hands. Two more hearings were held on 19 October 2010 and 6 February 2011, but the men were not brought to
the courtroom despite repeated oral requests by their lawyers to see them. During a session of 6 February, the
lawyers submitted a written request to the head of the court to be allowed to meet with the three men. The judge
reportedly agreed to the request, but asked the lawyers to wait in the courtroom for half an hour beforehand. When
the half an hour was over, the men had still not brought to the courtroom to meet their lawyers. The lawyers asked
again for the judge’s permission to do so, to which he reportedly replied: It is not in my capacity to allow you
access to the men as there are instructions from the security forces against that.”
In February 2011 Hassan Saleh, Ma’rouf Mulla Ahmed and Muhammad Ahmed Mustafa each received their first
and only family visit since their arrest on 26 December 2009.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Arabic, English, French or your own language or your own language:
Urging the authorities to release Hassan Saleh, Ma’rouf Mulla Ahmed and Muhammad Ahmed Mustafa
immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of
their right to freedom of expression and association;
Expressing concern that the three men are being tried by the SSSC, a court that falls far short of international
standards;
Urging the authorities to ensure that the three men are given access to their lawyers and any medical attention
they may require.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 APRIL 2011 TO:
President
Bashar al-Assad
Presidential Palace
al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Interior
Major Sa’id Mohamed Samour
Ministry of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 222 3428
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Walid al-Mu’allim
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 214 6251
Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date. This is the fourth update of UA 26/10. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/001/2010/en
Date: 11 March 2011
URGENT ACTION
KURDS DENIED ACCESS TO LAWYERS AHEAD OF TRIAL
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Hassan Saleh, Ma’rouf Mulla Ahmed and Muhammad Ahmed Mustafa are currently held at the political wing in ‘Adra prison near
Damascus, the capital. (The prison is formally known as Damascus Central Prison.) In February, they were allowed to see their
families for the first time since their arrest on 26 December 2009. According to sources from Syria, the visits were less than half
an hour long and took place in the presence of prison guards who insisted that the men speak to their families in Arabic only,
seemingly because the prison guards would not have understood the conversations had they been in Kurdish. Reportedly, the
men appeared frail. All three men suffer from various ailments: Hassan Saleh and Muhammad Ahmed Mustafa both require
regular medication for thyroid and other problems and Ma’rouf Mulla Ahmed suffers from a slipped disc in his back. It is not
known if they have access to medication.
Kurds, who comprise up to 10 per cent of the population and live mostly in the north-east, experience identity-based
discrimination, including restrictions on use of their language and culture. Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds are effectively
stateless, further restricting their access to social and economic rights.
Defendants appearing before the SSSC suffer systematic violations of their basic defence rights. They do not have the right of
appeal and have restricted access to their lawyers. The court also accepts as evidence “confessions” allegedly extracted under
torture and defendants’ claims that they have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated are almost never investigated. Amnesty
International has recommended that the SSSC be subjected to a review which would lead to it being fundamentally reformed or
abolished.
FU on UA: 26/10 Index: MDE 24/010/2011 Issue Date: 11 March 2011

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