Fears for Kurdish minority activist detained incommunicado in Syria

The Syrian authorities should either release immediately or charge with a recognizable criminal offence a Kurdish human rights activist who has been held incommunicado since he was detained by Military Intelligence two weeks ago, Amnesty International said today.

The authorities have not said why ‘Abed al-Hafith ‘Abed al-Rahman is being detained or whether any charges have been brought against him. He is believed to be held at a Military Intelligence facility in the northern city of Aleppo.

‘Abed al-Hafith ‘Abed al-Rahman is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Human Rights Organization in Syria (MAF), an unauthorized non governmental organization formed by members of the Syrian Kurdish minority.

Detainees held by Military Intelligence and other security agencies in Syria are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment, especially when they are detained incommunicado.

Military Intelligence officials detained 44 year old ‘Abed al-Hafith ‘Abed al-Rahman at his home in Aleppo in the presence of his family on 2 March.

They seized some of his personal belongings, including a book he had written on teaching the Kurdish language and unpublished MAF statements.

Another member of MAF’s Board of Trustees, Naderah ‘Abdo, was detained at the same time, but she was released without charge on 6 March from the Military Intelligence facility in Aleppo.

Kurds in Syria suffer discrimination because of their ethnicity; many of them are denied Syrian nationality and therefore do not receive the same access to education, employment, health care and other rights enjoyed by Syrian nationals.

In addition, severe restrictions are placed on the use of the Kurdish language and culture in Syria; publishing and printing materials in Kurdish, as well as teaching it, is forbidden and penalized by imprisonment.

Kurdish civil society activists and those deemed to be associated with Kurdish political parties or groups who raise concerns about the treatment of Kurds in Syria face the risk of arbitrary arrest, torture and imprisonment after unfair trials.

Amnesty International has urged the authorities to release ‘Abed al-Hafith ‘Abed al-Rahman immediately and unconditionally unless he is to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence and tried in full conformity with international fair trial standards.

The organization called on the authorities to ensure that he is humanely treated and not subject to torture or other ill-treatment, and to allow him immediate access his family, a lawyer of his choice, an appropriate diet and any medical treatment he may require.