Syria: repression of Kurdish political and cultural rights (HRW report)
Cando os imperios deixaron as súas colonias apareceron Estados con fronteiras bastante arbitrarias, e algunhas nacións quedaron sen Estado. Os kurdos son un caso curioso de pobo repartido entre varios Estados. Indico aquí as principais comunidades kurdas seguindo as estimacións mínimas (as máximas son significativamente maiores) que encontrei:
- 11 millóns en Turquía (15% da poboación de Turquía)
- 4 millóns en Iraq (13% da poboación de Iraq)
- 4 millóns en Irán (5% da poboación de Irán)
- 1,5 millóns en Siria (6% da poboación de Siria)
- centos de miles na diáspora (destacando medio millón de emigrantes en Alemaña)
Os kurdos, ademais, viven diversos graos de represión política e cultural en todos estes Estados, ata o punto de haber centos de miles de kurdos apátridas na súa propia terra.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) publicou antonte un informe sobre a represión que sofren os kurdos en Siria. O informe leva por título “Group Denial: Repression of Kurdish Political and Cultural Rights in Syria”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción (a negrita é miña):
In March 2004, Syria’s Kurds held large-scale demonstrations, some violent, in a number of towns and villages throughout northern Syria, to protest their treatment by the Syrian authorities—the first time they had held such massive demonstrations in the country. While the protests occurred as an immediate response to the shooting by security forces of Kurdish soccer fans engaged in a fight with Arab supporters of a rival team, they were driven by long-simmering Kurdish grievances about discrimination against their community and repression of their political and cultural rights. The scale of the mobilization alarmed the Syrian authorities, who reacted with lethal force to quell the protests. In the final tally, at least 36 people were killed, most of them Kurds, and over 160 people were injured. The security services detained more than 2,000 Kurds (many were later amnestied), with widespread reports of torture and ill-treatment of the detainees.
The March 2004 events constituted a major turning point in relations between Syria’s Kurds and the authorities. Long marginalized and discriminated against by successive Syrian governments that promoted Arab nationalism, Syria’s Kurds have traditionally been a divided and relatively quiescent group (especially compared to Kurds in Iraq and Turkey). Syria’s Kurds make up an estimated 10 percent of the population and live primarily in the northern and eastern regions of the country.
The protests in 2004, which many Syrian Kurds refer to as their intifada (uprising), as well as developments in Iraqi Kurdistan, gave them increased confidence to push for greater enjoyment of rights and greater autonomy in Syria. This newfound assertiveness worried Syria’s leadership, already nervous about Kurdish autonomy in Iraq and increasingly isolated internationally. The authorities responded by announcing that they would no longer tolerate any Kurdish gathering or political activity. Kurds nevertheless continued to assert themselves by organizing events celebrating their Kurdish identity and protesting anti-Kurdish policies of the government.
In the more than five years since March 2004, Syria has maintained a harsh policy of increased repression against its Kurdish minority. This repression is part of the Syrian government’s broader suppression of any form of political dissent by any of the country’s citizens, but it also presents certain distinguishing features such as the repression of cultural gatherings because the government perceives Kurdish identity as a threat, as well as the sheer number of Kurdish arrests. A September 2008 presidential decree that places stricter state regulation on selling and buying property in certain border areas mostly impacts Kurds and is perceived as directed against them.
This report documents the government’s particular attack on the Kurdish community since the violent crackdown of 2004, highlighting governmental efforts to ban demonstrations for Kurdish minority rights, cultural celebrations, and commemorative events, as well as the mistreatment of detainees and the lack of due process protections in their prosecutions. (The report does not tackle some of the other issues that negatively affect Kurds in Syria, such as the statelessness of an estimated 300,000 Syrian Kurds or ongoing discriminatory provisions against the Kurdish language). It is based on interviews with 30 Kurdish activists detained since 2005 and subsequently released, as well as 15 relatives of Kurdish activists still in jail.
The testimonies paint a bleak picture. Since 2005, Syrian security forces have repressed at least 14 political and cultural public gatherings, overwhelmingly peaceful, organized by Kurdish groups, and often have resorted to violence to disperse the crowds. In at least two instances the security services fired on the crowds and caused deaths, but to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge the authorities did not order any investigation into the shooting incidents. […]
Syria’s security services have detained a number of leading Kurdish political activists. While they detained some for only a few hours, they referred others to prosecution, often before military courts, which have sentenced them to prison terms. A Kurdish activist told HRW, “There used to be a red line on detaining known Kurdish political leaders. But since 2004 this line is no longer there”. HRW documented the arrest and trial of at least 15 prominent Syrian Kurdish political leaders since 2005, including those involved in Kurdish political parties. Those recently tried include Mesh`al Tammo, the official spokesperson for the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria; Fuad `Aliko and Hasan Saleh, leading members in the Yekiti party; Muhammad Musa, the general secretary of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria; Mustapha Bakr Jum`a, general secretary of the Azadi party; and Muhammad Sa`id al-Sa`id and Adnan Buzan of the Kurdish Democratic Party–Syria. Authorities also have detained and tried lower-ranking members of political parties, including dozens of members of the PYD (Hezb al-Ittihad al-Dimocrati), a party closely affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey.
Syrian security forces have detained these activists without arrest warrants by relying on the country’s Emergency Law, in place since 1963. All 30 former detainees interviewed by HRW said that security forces initially held them in incommunicado detention while interrogating them. It was only after their transfer to ordinary prisons —sometimes after a few months— that the detainees were able to inform their families of their whereabouts.
Of the former detainees interviewed by HRW, 12 said that security forces tortured them, and that although some of them had formally complained about this, the authorities had not opened any investigations into their claims. According to them, the most common torture method is beating and kicking on all parts of the body, especially beating on the soles of the feet (falqa). Other forms of torture detainees described included sleep deprivation and being forced to stand for long periods. To HRW’s knowledge, the Syrian government has not conducted any investigation into these torture allegations. In addition to physical torture, 18 Kurdish activists told HRW that security services insulted them and treated them in a degrading manner, and 14 complained about appalling detention conditions.
Most of those detained were referred to military courts for prosecution —a practice that is allowed under the Emergency Law. The judicial authorities have at their disposal a number of broadly articulated criminal provisions that allow punishment for a range of peaceful activities, including legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and association. These include (i) provisions that criminalize issuing any calls that can be characterized as “inciting sectarian, racial or religious strife” (article 307 of the Syrian penal code); (ii) provisions that criminalize “any act, speech, or writing” that can be construed as advocating “cutting off part of Syrian land to join it to another country” (article 267); and (iii) provisions that treat “any gathering of more than seven people with the aim of protesting a decision or measure taken by the public authorities” as a riot that is punishable by jail for between one and twelve months (article 336).
But the authorities also have a legal trump card. Syria’s penal code criminalizes joining “without the permission of the government any political organization or social organization with an international character” (article 288 of the penal code). Since there is no political parties law in Syria, none of the political parties —let alone the Kurdish ones— are actually licensed. Accordingly, all members of Syria’s Kurdish parties are vulnerable to arrest and sentencing at any time. […]
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