Sep 10 2018

Syrian Kurdish authorities violate rights of rivals - HRW

The Syrian Kurdish party that controls much of northeastern Syria has arrested
several political rivals, violating their rights to due process and a number of
people have disappeared in custody, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on
Monday.

The Autonomous Administration of Northeastern Syria was established by the
Democratic Union Party (PYD) in areas of northeast Syria it has seized from the
Syrian government and Islamic State (ISIS) since the war broke out in 2011.

The PYD is the political wing of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) that makes
up the bulk of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which were the main ground troops
that, helped by U.S. special forces and air power, all but eliminated ISIS in Syria.

“The autonomous administration is apparently scooping up political rivals and
throwing them in jail,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human
Rights Watch. “Depriving detainees of basic due process is a sign of an
authoritarian government, not the rights respecting administration the
autonomous administration holds itself out to be.”

YPG units, known as the asayish, are employed to maintain order and security in
the region. The YPG has detained at least 20 members of rival political parties
such as the Kurdish National Council in Syria since January 2018, according to
local human rights and media organisations, HRW said, “and in some cases
appears to have forcibly disappeared them”.

Speaking to HRW, two former detainees and the relatives of two others said the
detainees were denied access to their families and lawyers and never brought
before a judge, and others were held for lengthy periods before being brought to
court. They believe the arrests were due their political affiliations.

“So long as the autonomous administration is holding itself out as the de facto
government in the northeast and conducts arrests and court proceedings, it
needs to adhere to basic international human rights obligations,” Fakih said.
“Insecurity is never a valid excuse for infringing on detainee rights.”