Amnesty accuses Syrian Kurds of unfair trials, arbitrary arrests

2015-09-07 22:05
(File: AP)

(File: AP)

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Cairo - Authorities in Syria's Kurdish areas are using the struggle against the Islamic State extremist organisation as a pretext to crack down on their political opponents, Amnesty International said Monday.

The international rights group accused the dominant Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) of denying detainees basic rights, including access to a lawyer and their family.

Amnesty said detainees it visited in Kurdish jails told its researchers of lengthy pre-trial detention and of trials in which they were not allowed to present a defence or shown the evidence against them.

The detainees said conditions in the jails were adequate, although two detainees spoke of previous ill-treatment in another security facility, the organisation said.

"The PYD-led autonomous administration cannot use their fight against terrorism as an excuse to violate the rights of individuals in areas under their control," said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

The Amnesty findings echo a report by Human Rights Watch last year.

The PYD has effectively controlled three Kurdish areas in northern and north-eastern Syria since Syrian regime forces withdrew in mid-2012.

Along with smaller allies, it has set up what it says are democratic autonomous cantons in the three areas, modelled on the leftist ideology of jailed Turkish Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Rival Kurdish parties accuse it of monopolizing power and suppressing opposition.

The People's Protection Units - a militia linked to the party, although its commanders say it is politically neutral and controlled by the cantons - has won plaudits for its effective campaign against Islamic State.

Backed by US airstrikes, the YPG has driven the Islamists from most of Syria's border with Turkey and wide areas of the mainly Kurdish north-east.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria

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