Defend International (DI) is alarmed by reports that several Kurdish political prisoners have started a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, unfair trial practices and racial discrimination.
DI has contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross, High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, seeking their urgent intervention in this matter.
- The Kurdish prisoners ended their hunger strike on 8 December 2009, apparently because negotiations had been carried out between the hunger strikers and Syrian officials.
27 November 2009
DI Calls Upon Syrian Authorities To Engage in Dialogue With Prisoners in Adra Prison
(Oslo) – Defend International urges Syria to put an end to all forms of harassment against its Kurdish minority, to investigate these abuses, to follow where evidence leads, and to punish those suspected of violating international law.
Defend International is alarmed by reports that several Kurdish political prisoners have started a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, unfair trial practices and racial discrimination. The hunger strike is taking place in Adra prison, located 20 km north-east of Damascus. After having submitted numerous petitions to the government, they have since October 30 resorted to a hunger strike in a desperate attempt to get the attention of the government.
The Kurds in Syria have suffered from systematic repression characterized by grave violations of their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, as well as death in custody under torture, indefinite detention without trial, disappearances, widespread arbitrary arrests, torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment.
Defend International is calling for urgent intervention by the Syrian authorities to put and end to all forms of harassment against its Kurdish minority and punish those suspected of violating international law. To date, Syrian officials have failed to take any action to investigate these abuses, follow where evidence leads, and hold those responsible to account.
Many prisoners in Adra prison, which is administered by the Syrian Interior Ministry and the Security agency, are accused under various articles of the Syrian Penal Code. The Kurdish activists and human rights defenders are often convicted of “weakening nationalist sentiment” and/or “inciting sectarian or racial strife or provoking conflict between sects and various members of the nation.”
The prisoners are not allowed access to their lawyers or to their families. Their demands cover a wide spectre, but in particular they call upon the Syrian authorities to ensure that conditions of detention conform to international standards for the treatment of prisoners. The prisoners are also protesting against the unlawful trials some of them were subjected to. Now, after 28 days their health has deteriorated; detainees are suffering severe migraine attacks and debilitating weight and fluid loss. The Syrian Government has not taken any step to engage in dialogue with the detainees nor to pay heed to their requests.
Defend International has contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross, High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, calling for their urgent intervention to meet the demands of the prisoners, to urge the Syrian authorities to immediately provide prisoners with medical attention if needed, and to protect them from any further torture or ill-treatment.