On return to Damascus, they were each interviewed by the authorities, and were issued with a summons to report to intelligence security a week later.
International Support Kurds in Syria Association –SKS calls all government authorities, and Cyprus in particular at this time to stop forcibly returning Kurds to Syria. There is mounting acknowledgement by humanitarian organisations, the UN, and government bodies that there is currently a well-founded fear of persecution of Kurds in Syria, on the grounds of race:
 
Syria’s human rights record continued to deteriorate in 2009. An Emergency Law, in place since 1963, continues to restrict the rights of Syrian citizens. This is based on the justification that Syria is still at war with Israel. We remain deeply concerned about arbitrary arrests, intimidation, torture, travel bans, lack of freedom of expression, and lack of respect for the rights of the Kurdish minority.
UK FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2009 – Countries of Concern: Syria March 2010 available at http://centralcontent.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/human-rights-reports/human-rights-report-2009 [accessed 15.6.2010]
 
The Kurdish minority faces severe restrictions on cultural and linguistic expression. Opposition figures, human rights activists, and relatives of exiled dissidents are prevented from travelling abroad, and many ordinary Kurds lack the requisite documents to leave the country.
Freedom House report – Worst of the Worst 2010: The World’s Most Repressive Societies 2010 available at http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/WoW/2010/WorstOfTheWorst2010.pdf [accessed 15.6.2010]
 
The Kurdish minority remained subject to discrimination, and thousands of Syrian Kurds were effectively stateless.
Amnesty International report 2010/Syria – The state of the world’s Human Rights
available at http://thereport.amnesty.org/ [accessed 15.6.2010]
 
8. The Committee is deeply concerned at numerous reports of torture, ill-treatment, death in custody and incommunicado detention of people belonging to the Kurdish minority, in large part stateless, in particular political activists of Kurdish origins. The Committee is further concerned that convictions to some Kurdish detainees pronounced by military courts have been passed on vague charges of “weakening national sentiment” or “spreading false of exaggerated information”. Moreover, the Committee notes with concern reports of growing trend of deaths of Kurdish conscripts who have died whilst carrying out their mandatory military service and whose bodies were returned to the families with evidence of severe injuries (arts. 1, 2, 12 and 16).
The State party should take urgent measures to ensure prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigation into all allegations of torture, ill-treatment, death in custody, death during military service and incommunicado detention of people belonging to the Kurdish minority, in particular of political activists of Kurdish origins, and to prosecute and punish law enforcement, security, intelligence and prison officials who carried out, ordered or acquiesced in such practices. Furthermore, the State party should amend or abolish the vague security provisions under the Syrian Criminal Code that unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of expression, association or assembly.
UN Committee Against Torture Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/CAT.C.SYR.CO.1.pdf [accessed 15.6.2010]
 
While torture and other ill?treatment of criminal suspects by the police is reported to be common, Amnesty International’s information refers primarily to persons arrested or detained for expressing dissent or criticizing the government or its policies and who are perceived by the authorities as opponents of the government. They include human rights defenders (HRDs), including leading human rights lawyers; advocates of political reform and democracy, members of the Kurdish minority campaigning against discrimination and advocating greater respect for the rights of the Kurdish minority; independent journalists and bloggers; suspected Islamists; and people suspected of involvement in terrorism. As well, some Syrian nationals who returned to the country after living abroad have also been arbitrarily detained on arrival or shortly after their return; to seek asylum abroad is perceived as a manifestation of opposition to the Syrian government, so returned asylum seekers face the likelihood of arrest.
Amnesty International SYRIA BRIEFING TO THE COMMITTEE AGAINST
TORTURE available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/ngos/AI_Syria44.pdf [accessed 15.6.2010]
 
3.1.3. High profile versus low profile activists
According to a Kurdish journalist and human rights activist there is no distinguishable pattern concerning the security services’ reaction against Kurds who are politically active. Persons are picked randomly by the security services, regardless of their degree of political activity or their political ranks. It was added that there are generally no rules for the function of the security services in Syria. Sometimes the security forces arrest persons unfoundedly. Persons have for example been arrested when they came to a cemetery to visit the graves of their relatives, especially if the relatives’ deaths were connected to the uprising in Qamishli in March 2004 or the subsequent Kurdish protests throughout the northern part of the country.
According to Mohammed Rashid, PUK, a slight majority of Kurds targeted by the Syrian authorities are party members, and 30 to 40 percent of those targeted are non-members who are sympathetic to the Kurdish issue and sporadically participate in Kurdish activities. They include, among others, students, writers, intellectuals, as well as manual workers.
A Western diplomatic source (5) stated that in general low-profile members of Kurdish political parties are targeted by the security services.
Report from a joint fact finding mission by the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) and ACCORD/Austrian Red Cross to Damascus, Syria, Beirut, Lebanon, and Erbil and Dohuk, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)Human rights issues concerning Kurds in Syria 6 May 2010,  available at http://www.ecoi.net/news/89.joint-fact-finding-mission-report-on-kurds-in-syria.htm [accessed 15.6.2010]
 
International Support Kurds in Syria Association – SKS
15 June 2010

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