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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2011—On December 28, 2011, the Criminal Court of First Instance in al-Hasakah acquitted Jindar ʿAbdussalam Barakat and Ahmad ʿAjil Ahmad on the charges raised against them pursuant to Articles 374 and 376 of the Syrian Criminal Code. The acquittal was made possible on the basis of witness testimony. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2011—On December 7, 2011, the Second Criminal Court in Damascus sentenced the activist Kamal Schaykhu to two months imprisonment for an unauthorized border crossing. He was acquitted on charges pursuant to Articles 286 and 287 of the Syrian Criminal Code. Since Schaykhu already spent more than eight months in prison, the sentence is considered served. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2011—On September 18, 2011, the Criminal Court in al-Hasakah sentenced ʿAbdurrahman Rashad Hami to one-month imprisonment for his role in calling for a dissident demonstration. Following his arrest on September 3, Hami was interrogated by police and by employees of the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah. He was released from custody a week after his arrest. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, December 29, 2011—At their party conference on December 23, 2011, the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) chose a new leadership. The attorney and human rights activist Mustafa Khidr Oso was elected the new secretary. The previous secretary, Khayruddin Murad, remains a member of the Central Committee. Until now Mustafa Oso was the chairman of the Kurdish Organization for Human Rights and General Freedoms in Syria (DAD). His successor is the attorney Muhammad Khalil.

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KURDWATCH, December 28, 2011—During the night from December 25 to 26, 2011, Farhad Ahma (b. 1974), a representative of the Assembly of Syrian-Kurdish Youth Abroad, which was founded in Stockholm on September 4, 2011, was attacked and beaten in his Berlin apartment. Around 2 am, Ahma´s doorbell rang – when he asked who was there, he was told it was the police. When Ahma opened the door, two people with billy clubs forced their way into the apartment and began to beat him. Ahma suspects that the people, who spoke with an accent, were Arabs. He explained to KURDWATCH that he assumes that the attackers were supporters of the Syrian government who wanted to »warn« him on account of his oppositional activities. Ahma filed a police report.
A report published by Amnesty International on October 3, 2011, tells of numerous cases in which members of the opposition living in exile have been threatened by Syrians, particularly embassy staff, loyal to the regime.

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KURDWATCH, December 27, 2011—Nationwide protests on December 23, 2011 resulted once again in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »The Protocol of Death« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. This slogan refers to the protocol between the Arab League and the Baʿth government with regards to sending Arab observers to Syria. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In al-Qamishli, police used tear gas against demonstrators and arrests occurred. As in the previous week, three separate demonstrations were organized in ʿAmudah. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) protested under the slogan »The Kurdish Will«.

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/dyl6V_jQAOQ

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KURDWATCH, December 25, 2011—On December 22, 2011, young people threw stones at the Baʿth party office, city hall, and the headquarters of the Military Intelligence Service in ʿAmudah in protest against the restricted electricity supply. As a result of the international sanctions against Syria, the supply of electricity has been restricted for weeks. The electricity supply is also interrupted at regular intervals in the Kurdish regions. Residents in ʿAmudah must go without electricity from 8 to 9 am, 1 to 3 pm, and 8 to 10 pm.

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KURDWATCH, December 25, 2011—On December 7, 2011, several University of Aleppo students were arrested after a dissident protest on campus. While some of them were interrogated and released, the following people remain in custody: Renas Musa Kino (b. 1990), Farhad Mahmud Hasi, Mahmud Khalil und Mahmud Hajji Birgal. On December 12, Birgal was presented to the Fifth Investigative Judge in Aleppo, who ruled that he must remain in custody. No further details concerning the other students are known.

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KURDWATCH, December 24, 2011—Salih Gado, member of the politburo of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria, resigned from the Executive Committee of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria on December 18, 2011. He justified this step to KURDWATCH by explaining that the members of a delegation from the Kurdish Patriotic Conference who had been invited to Iraqi-Kurdistan by President Masʿud Barzani at the end of November had taken money from the KDP Iraq and initially concealed this. He was critical of the fact that the members of the Conference could not agree on common demands, but could agree to keep for themselves money that rightly belonged to the Kurdish Patriotic Conference. Of a total of 21 delegation members, only ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish, leader of the PUK-friendly Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, allegedly refused to take the money. While money indisputably changed hands, the amount of the payments is unclear.

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KURDWATCH, December 22, 2011—During its first Congress from December 17 to 18 in Tunis, the Syrian National Council, an oppositional coalition founded in Istanbul on October 2, 2011, demanded the constitutional recognition of the national Kurdish identity, among other things. It also stressed that the Kurdish question is »a part of the general patriotic question in Syria«. The Syrian National Council demanded a solution to the Kurdish question based on the »elimination of injustice« against the Kurds, restitution for those affected, and the »recognition of the national rights of the Kurdish people within the framework of the unity of Syrian territory and the Syrian people«. Additionally, the Syrian National Council emphasized its rejection of discrimination against all religious, sectarian, and ethnic groups in Syrian society, whether Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Syriac, Turkmen or others, and it demanded a state in which all citizens have the same civil rights and duties.

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KURDWATCH, December 20, 2011—The police and members of various intelligence services arrested more than fifty people before and during the dissident demonstration in al-Qamishli. The activists, who are said to have been routinely tortured, remain in custody. At this time, KURDWATCH has the name of only one of those in custody: the person in question is Shivan Mihdi Hasan (b. 1989).

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KURDWATCH, December 19, 2011—Nationwide protests on December 16, 2011 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »The Arab League is killing me« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In al-Qamishli a demonstration took place despite road closures and the arrest of activists. However, security forces in ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî) prevented any protests. Numerous activists were injured or arrested for a few hours. As in the previous week, three demonstrations were organized in ʿAmudah.

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/ca7ivmgn_qc

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KURDWATCH, December 15, 2011—The parties of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference, as well as other Kurdish parties and youth groups, called for a boycott of Syrian municipal elections on December 12, 2011. City and provincial councils were chosen in the elections.

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KURDWATCH, December 16, 2011—On December 13, 2011, the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Reconciliation (Rêkeftin) announced it will join the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria [further information]. During earlier preparations for the founding of the party alliance, Rêkeftin membership was blocked due to a veto by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PYD ultimately did not join the Conference thus paving the way for Rêkeftin.

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KURDWATCH, December 13, 2011—On December 11, 2011, a general strike took place in a number of Syrian cities in protest against the regime. Most stores in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, al-Malikiyah (Dêrik), al-Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) also remained closed.

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KURDWATCH, December 12, 2011—During a demonstration in al-Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) on December 8, 2011, participants demanded that re-naturalized stateless Kurds (ajanib) should not have to serve in the military. Furthermore, they demanded compensation for the period of time during which the (ajanib) were deprived of citizenship.

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KURDWATCH, December 12, 2011—Nationwide protests on December 9, 2011, resulted again in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Strike of Dignity« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). A total of three demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, one by the independent youth groups, one by the Kurdish Patriotic Conference, and another by the PYD. Pupils in al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) had already organized a dissident demonstration on December 8, 2011.

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/Kb3_YbxbbnQ

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KURDWATCH, December 11, 2011—On December 1, 2011, the Criminal Court in al-Qamishli acquitted numerous people against whom charges had been raised pursuant to Articles 335 and 336. They were charged – sometimes in multiple cases – as a result of their participation in dissident demonstrations. The activists in question are: ʿAbdurrazzaq Nihayat at-Tammu, ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajji, ʿAbdussamad Muhammad ʿUmar, ʿAbussalam Muhammad ʿAli ʿUmar, ʿAdil ʿIzzuddin Khalaf, Jamal Nasir Muhammad, Jiwan Hasan Qiri, Jiwan Luqman Ibrahim, Hajar Muhammad ʿAli, Hajar Muhammad Ibrahim, Hasan ʿAbdullah Muhammad, Hasan Salih Ibrahim, Kadar Farhan Khidr, Kawa Muhammad ʿAli, Khalil Farhan Hiso, and Raman Muhammad Hafiz Hajji Musa. None of the aforementioned people were detained in the course of the charges.

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KURDWATCH, December 8, 2011—On November 30, 2011, the presenting judge in Damascus ruled that Juan Sulayman ʾAyo [further information on the case], Rodi ʿUthman, Sirur Shaykh Musa, and Givara Saʿid will be released from custody after a bond of 5,000 Syrian Lira is posted. Charges pursuant to Articles 306, 285, and 286 are pending against the dissident demonstrators.

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KURDWATCH, December 6, 2011—On November 30, 2011, the Criminal Court of First Instance in Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) sentenced each of the following demonstrators to one and a half years imprisonment pursuant to Articles 374 and 376 of the Criminal Code: Muhammad Sulayman Khalil (attorney, secretary of the Kurdish human rights organization DAD), Sulayman Muhammad Ismaʿil (attorney, board member of the Kurdish human rights organization al-Rasid), ʿAli ʿAbdullah Kolo (attorney), ʿAbdulwahhab Jamil Muhammad (attorney), ʿAbdulmajid Ibrahim ʿAlo, Ismaʿil Mahmud ʿAliko, Akram Muhiyuddin Maʿmo, and Muhammad ʿIsa Muhammad ʿAli Ahmad. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, December 5, 2011—Nationwide protests on December 2, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime united under the slogan »We demand a security zone«. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In al-Qamishli many women demonstrators took part in the protests and demanded additional rights for women. The number of Arab and Assyrian demonstrators also appeared to be higher than before. In ʿAmudah two demonstrations took place once again. Supporters of the PYD carrying their own flags took part in the demonstration by the Kurdish parties.

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/HCxztj0f6eQ

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KURDWATCH, December 4, 2011—Zuhayr Salim (b. 1947) is a writer and lives in London. In an interview with KurdWatch, the speaker of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood speaks out about the Kurdish question in Syria. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, December 1, 2011—On November 27, 2011, Police arrested Rezan Bahri Shaykhmus (b. 1962, married, four children) at his workplace in Rumaylan on account of his alleged participation in dissident demonstrations. However, due to his statement that he had never taken part in protests, he was released the same evening. The engineer is chairman of the Office of Communications for the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria.

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KURDWATCH, November 29, 2011—The student Dijwar ʿAbdullah Ahmad was released from custody in Damascus on November 26, 2011. No charges were raised. During his first three days in custody, Ahmad was questioned about his participation in dissident demonstrations. During the interrogations, throughout which he had to stand, his eyes were bound. He was forced to strip naked and was doused with cold water. In addition, he was beaten on the soles of his feet and elsewhere. Ahmad was threatened that if he ever participated in dissident demonstrations again, he would never return home. Dijwar ʿAbdullah Ahmad could not provide any information about which intelligence service held him. The student Hogir Muhammad Shaykhi, who was detained with him, remains in custody. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, November 28, 2011—Muhammad ʿAli al-ʿAli (b. 1976, married, two children) was released from custody in Damascus on November 5, 2011. He had been arrested on October 17 at the Emigration and Passport Authority in al-Hasakah and transferred to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus. The apparent reason for his arrest was that he made comments critical of the regime at a memorial service in Damascus. While in custody al-ʿAli was subjected to torture. No charges were raised.

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KURDWATCH, November 28, 2011—On November 26, 2011, Walat Fahd Khalil was arrested following a dissident demonstration in al-Qamishli. Mahmud Muhammad (b. 1978, married, one child) had already been arrested on November 24. The arrest occurred in Muhammad´s apartment in al-Qamishli. The presumed reason for the arrest was his participation in dissident demonstrations. The fate of the two activists remains uncertain.

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KURDWATCH, November 28, 2011—On November 11, 2011, the philosophy students Dijwar ʿAbdullah Ahmad (b. 1992) and Hogir Muhammad Shaykhi (b. 1992) were arrested. Prior to their arrest, members of the Air Force Intelligence Service had stormed Schaykhi´s workplace. The whereabouts of the two students remains uncertain.

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KURDWATCH, November 28, 2011—Nationwide protests on November 25, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »The free army protects me« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Demonstrations also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In addition, a pro-Assad demonstration organized by the Syrian government took place in al-Qamishli. In al-Qamishli security forces used tear gas against the demonstrators. Several people are said to have been arrested. In ʿAmudah, once again two parallel demonstrations took place. Representatives and supporters of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria organized one of the demonstrations, independent youth groups organized the other.

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KURDWATCH, November 26, 2011—On November 20, 2011, employees of the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah arrested the chairman of the Kurdish Organization for Human Rights and General Freedoms in Syria (DAD), Mustafa Khidir Oso (b. 1964, married, four children), for several hours. Oso was told that the Political Security Directorate in Damascus had issued a warrant for his arrest. After the bar association in al-Hasakah intervened, he was released from custody on the condition that he report to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus within three days. Prior to his arrest, Oso, who is planning a work-related trip to Geneva, had gone to the Immigration and Passport Authority in al-Hasakah to ask if his travel ban was still in effect. In connection with this, it was determined that there was an arrest warrant against him.

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KURDWATCH, November 23, 2011—The Kurdish parties and youth groups represented in the Kurdish Patriotic Conference demonstrated in ʿAyn al-ʿarab on November 19, 2011. The demonstration took place under the slogan »The Kurdish Patriotic Council represents me«. At the demonstration, some of the participants demanded the fall of the regime.

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KURDWATCH, November 23, 2011—On November 16, 2011, Milad Hadi Muhammad was released from the custody by the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli. The day after his arrest, Muhammad’s eyes were bound and his hands were tied behind his back — he was subsequently beaten in the face with the butt of a rifle, among other things. The following day he was stripped naked and doused with cold water. During the interrogation, Muhammad was asked for the names of leading Kurdish activists, as well as their membership in Kurdish political parties. He spent his entire time in custody – a total of 4 days – in solitary confinement. No charges were raised. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, November 21, 2011—Nationwide protests on November 18, 2011 once again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Out with the [Syrian] ambassadors« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).
Similar to the past two weeks, two parallel demonstrations initially took place in ʿAmudah. Later the protests organized by the parties of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference and those organized by the independent Kurdish youth groups joined in a united march.

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KURDWATCH, November 20, 2011—On November 16, 2011, the Second Criminal Court in Damascus postponed the hearing against the activist Kamal Shaykhu until December 7, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, November 18, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/HqX-fAeJJJ0

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/KCHSj5ctAc8

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KURDWATCH, November 18, 2011—Dr. ʿAbdulbasit Sayda (b. 1956, doctorate in philosophy, married, four children) has been living in exile in Sweden since 1994. In 2003 his book, "The Kurdish Question in Syria" was published. In a conversation with KURDWATCH ʿAbdulbasit Sayda spoke about the work of the Syrian National Council, an oppositional coalition that was founded in Istanbul on October 2, 2011. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, November 17, 2011—On November 13, 2011, the Criminal Court of First Instance in Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) postponed the hearing against the following demonstrators: Muhammad Sulayman Khalil (attorney, secretary of the Kurdish human rights organization DAD), Sulayman Muhammad Ismaʿil (attorney, board member of the Kurdish human rights organization al-Rasid), ʿAli ʿAbdullah Kolo (attorney), ʿAbdulwahhab Jamil Muhammad (attorney), ʿAbdulmajid Ibrahim ʿAlo, Ismaʿil Mahmud ʿAliko, Akram Muhiyuddin Maʿmo, and Muhammad ʿIsa Muhammad ʿAli Ahmad. Charges were raised pursuant to Articles 335, 336, 374, 376, 216, and 217 of the Criminal Code.

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KURDWATCH, November 16, 2011—Around midnight on November 12, 2011, members of the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli arrested the activist Milad Hadi Muhammad (b. 1989). Prior to his arrest, Muhammad had hung posters in al-Qamishli to commemorate the 40th day since the death of the Kurdish politican Mishʾal at-Tammu.

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KURDWATCH, November 16, 2011—On November 5, 2011, the activist and writer Ibrahim Mustafa, alias Ibrahim Kaban (b. 1980), was released from custody. Members of the Military Intelligence Service in Damascus had arrested Mustafa on September 16, 2011. During interrogations, Mustafa was accused of inciting sectarian strife, as well as founding and leading a Kurdish youth group. He was also interrogated about television appearances on the stations Orient News and Al-Jazeera, as well as about articles published on the internet. No charges were raised.

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KURDWATCH, November 15, 2011—Nationwide protests on November 11, 2011 again resulted in many dead and injured. Throughout the country demonstrators united under the slogan, »We demand that Syria’s membership in the Arab league be frozen« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn.
In ʿAmudah two parallel demonstrations again took place. Representatives and supporters of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria organized one demonstration, the other one was organized by independent youth groups. In contrast, in al-Qamishli, all of the Kurdish groups protested together. Before the protest, independent activists and the Kurdish Patriotic Conference had agreed to forego partisan banners. In both cities, the number of demonstrators was allegedly higher than in recent weeks.
During the demonstration in al-Qamishli, conflicts arose between independent activists and PYD supporters, as some of the demonstrators carried banners criticizing the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change, of which the PYD is a member. The PYD demanded that the activists take down the banners. The activists refused and instead called for PYD supporters to roll up their flags. When they also refused, fights resulted between the two groups, during which the PYD flags were torn down. PYD supporters later visited the home of one of the activists involved and threatened him should he continue to act against the PYD.

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KURDWATCH, November 12, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/KH0tlJoAr1M

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/neLbLkNizRE

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KURDWATCH, November 10, 2011—On November 9, 2011, the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in al-Qamishli organized a demonstration with the slogan »The Kurdish Patriotic Conference represents me«. Some posters demanded the release of political prisoners, others demanded the fall of the regime. The demonstrators also declared their solidarity with other Syrian cities. Similar demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).

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KURDWATCH, November 9, 2011—The Syrian National Council wants to anchor Kurdish national rights in the constitution. A draft of the body´s political program further states that the Kurdish question in Syria must be solved democratically and justly, as well as within the framework of the unity of the Syrian state. This would entail that the Kurds receive the same civic rights and duties as all other citizens. The Syrian National Council is an oppositional coalition that was founded in Istanbul on October 2, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, November 8, 2011—Salih Muslim Muhammad (b. 1951, chemical engineer, married, five children) has been chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the PKK, since 2010. Out of fear of political persecution, he fled to Iraq in 2010, where he stayed at a PYD camp in the Gare Mountains. After the dissident protests began, he returned to Syria along with other PYD members. The day after his arrival, he took part in a PYD rally in al-Qamishli. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, Salih Muslim Muhammad speaks out about the PYD's role within the Syrian revolution and about its activities in Syria. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, November 7, 2011—On October 31, 2011, the bar association’s Court of Professional Conduct in al-Hasakah postponed the hearing against the attorneys Mustafa Khidr Oso and Faysal Badr until November 31, 2011. Prior to this, the two attorneys had denied all charges against them. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, November 7, 2011—Since October 31, 2011, armed members of various intelligence services have been preventing demonstrations by students at secondary schools in al-Malikiyah. The schools are surrounded so that students have no opportunity to gather on the street after school. There have been no altercations to date.

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KURDWATCH, November 7, 2011—In a declaration on October 30, 2011, the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) stated that the second party congress since the party’s formation had taken place in Aleppo. Mustafa Jumʿah was chosen as the new secretary and Bashar Amin was chosen to be the new assistant secretary. Moreover, the selection of a new politburo was announced.
The Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) originated on May 21, 2005 as a coalition between the Kurdish People’s Union Party in Syria under Mustafa Jumʿah and Khayruddin Murad’s Kurdish Left Party in Syria. Murad was appointed secretary of the new party. He and the former members of the Left Party were not invited to the conference in Aleppo. Thus their position is that the Azadî remains under the leadership of Khayruddin Murad, and that the Azadî under Mustafa Jumʿah’s leadership is merely a splinter group of former members of the Kurdish People’s Union.
Thus there are currently two parties called the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî).

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KURDWATCH, November 7, 2011—Nationwide protests on November 4, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »God is great« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).
In al-Qamishli and ʿAmudah, conflicts arose between the groups of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria and independent Kurdish revolutionary groups. In ʿAmudah the independent groups chanted, among other things: »No to the parties, our revolution is a youth revolution.« In both cities divided demonstrations took place.
Since the founding of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria on October 27, the Kurdish parties represented by the conference and their youth groups have been actively involved in the demonstrations and are trying to present themselves as the only legitimate mouthpiece of the Kurds. In previous months, most of the Kurdish parties not only avoided participating in dissident demonstrations, but some also tried to hinder the protests. In contrast, independent Kurdish revolutionary groups have been organizing demonstrations since the spring; many of their members were arrested or must live in hiding. There are also conflicts over content: While the independent groups demand Bashar al-Assad´s resignation, the Kurdish Patriotic Conference advocates for a »change of the system«.

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KURDWATCH, November 4, 2011—The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/s4ts3DsruK8
http://www.youtube.com/v/Duh6O4aIxEE



The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/uAPFxagyBEw

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KURDWATCH, November 3, 2011—On October 26, 2011, approximately 200 demonstrators protested in front of the police station in ʿAfrin calling for the release of dissidents detained after demonstrating. Relatives of the detainees and other activists took part in the protests. After Kurdish attorneys representing the demonstrators sat down with local Baʿth party security personnel in ʿAfrin, the prosecution in ʿAfrin ordered that the prisoners be released as long as a bond of 20,000 Syrian Lira is provided for each prisoner. Eventually, the following persons were released: Bashar Husayn Husayn, Arsham Chawish, ʿAbdurrahman Yusuf, Muhammad ʿAmo, Sulayman Waziro, Muhammad Ibrahim Hasan, Goran Ahmad, Bassam ʿAbdurrahman, Shiyar Hajji ʿAbdu, and ʿAnwar Simo. All the activists – with the exception of Bashar Husayn Husayn, Arsham Chawish and ʿAbdurrahman Yusuf – were tortured in detention. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, November 2, 2011—On October 29, the activist Salman ʿAkko (b. 1960, married, 10 children) was killed by a gunshot to the head during a dissident demonstration in al-Kaswah near Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, November 1, 2011—On October 26 and 27, 2011, the inaugural meeting of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria took place in al-Qamishli. Taking part in the conference were parties from the Kurdish Patriotic Movement, with the exception of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as well as other chosen participants; there was a total of 257 people in attendance. 100 of the participants belonged to the Kurdish parties; of the other 157 participants, 25 were representatives of youth groups. The conference executive committee is composed of 45 people, 20 of whom are party representatives (the chairman and a politburo member from each party); of the 25 other members, 6 are representatives of youth groups. Apart from the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria as well a number of activists who have been organizing dissident demonstrations in Kurdish regions since mid-March declined the invitation to participate in the conference. In addition, ʿAbdurrahman Aluji’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el-Partî) and the Rêkeftin were not represented at the conference.
The Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria formulated the following resolutions and positions:
The crisis in Syria can only be resolved through a change in the authoritarian and totalitarian system and its organizational, political, and intellectual structures. The security state must be dissolved and a more secular, democratic, diverse, parliamentary, and decentralized state must be constructed.
Military and security forces must be withdrawn from the Syrian cities.
The Kurdish people are living on their historical territory; it is a significant part of the social, national, and historical Syrian structure. This necessitates the recognition of the Kurdish people as a significant part of the Syrian nation and as the second largest ethnic group in the country. In addition, a just, democratic solution to the Kurdish question is necessary; the Kurdish people must receive the right to determine its own fate within a unified Syrian state.
The Kurdish youth movement is recognized as part of the peaceful Syrian revolution. Freedom of religion is to be guaranteed by the constitution. The ethnic rights of Syrian Christians, Chaldo-Assyrians, and other minorities must be maintained. As a part of the Syrian patriotic opposition, the conference rejects any individual dialogue with the regime.
All Kurdish coalitions (Political Council, Kurdish Democratic Coalition, Coordinating Committee) whose party members were represented at the Kurdish Patriotic Conference will be dissolved. The executive committee is charged with advocating for the unity of the Syrian opposition. The Kurdish Patriotic Conference will work together with any all-Syrian oppositional coalition that accepts the majority of the conference’s demands. At the same time, membership of all Kurdish parties in the all-Syrian oppositional coalitions should end.

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KURDWATCH, October 30, 2011—On October 24, 2011, the Criminal Court in al‑Qamishli postponed numerous hearings against demonstrators who are charged pursuant to Articles 335 and 336 of the Criminal Code.
The hearing against Muhammad Hafiz Hajj and Musa Khalaf, the hearing against Salar Salahuddin ʿUthman, and the hearing against Ibrahim Qijo were each postponed until October 25. The hearing against Bashar Rashad Bashar, Fadi Faysal ʿAzzam, and Rebar Sabghatullah Sayda was postponed until October 27.
The hearing against Muhammad Ashraf Sino (attorney), ʿAli ʿAbdullah Kolo (attorney), ʿAbdulwahhab Jamil Muhammad, Mishʿal at‑Tammu (assassinated on October 7, 2011), Muhammad ʿAbdurrahman Shadid, ʿAbdurrahman Yusuf ʿUthman, ʿAbdurrazzaq at‑Tammu, ʿAbdussamad Muhammad ʿAli ʿUmar, Muhammad Siraj Kalash, Ayman Nuri Hasan, ʿAdil ʿIzzuddin Khalaf, ʿAli Hajj Qasim, Shapal Muhammad Ibrahim, and Salih ʿAbbas Mishawah was postponed until November 14, 2011.
Also postponed until November 14, 2011, was the hearing against Hasan Salih Ibrahim, Muhammad Saʿid Daʿwa, Maʿmo, Jamil Ibrahim ʿUmar, and Nawaf Farhan an‑Nayif.
The hearing against ʿAbdussalam Yusuf ʿUthman, Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Muhammad Siraj Kalash, Shapal Muhammad Amin Ibrahim, Hajar Muhammad ʿAli, ʿAli Hajj Qasim, Farhan Fuʾad Batal, Alan ʿIsmat Mahmud, Ayman Nuri Hasan, ʿAdil ʿIzzuddin Khalaf, Mishʿal Nihayat at‑Tammu (assassinated on October 7, 2011), and Kadar Farhan Khidr was postponed until November 17.

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KURDWATCH, October 30, 2011—Nationwide protests on October 28, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »We demand a no-fly zone« took to the streets to call for the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). A number of Kurdish party leaders took part in the demonstration in al-Qamishli. Conflicts arose between these leaders and activists from independent Kurdish revolutionary groups when the party representatives tried to display a banner stating that the Kurdish Patriotic Conference is the sole representative of the Kurds. The Kurdish Patriotic Conference in Syria is a new association of Kurdish parties.

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KURDWATCH, October 29, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/PC7Vb8t7ISM

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/CnpTsHLSV7Q

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KURDWATCH, October 28, 2011—The engineer Khalil Farman Hiso was arrested on October 23, 2011 in al-Qamishli. It remains unclear who is responsible for the arrest, which is presumably connected with Hiso’s participation in dissident demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, October 25, 2011—Nationwide protests on October 21, 2011, resulted again in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the motto »The indecision of the Arab states claims further martyrs« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî). During the protests, the assassination of Mishʿal at-Tammu was again heavily criticized. A banner in al-Qamishli read: »You killed Mishʿal, but not his spirit in us.« In reaction to the Kurdish »language schools« that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) provisionally opened in several Kurdish cities, demonstrators displayed banners with the slogan: »We don´t want Kurdish language schools, but the fall of the regime.«

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KURDWATCH, October 24, 2011—On October 20, 2011, employees of the Political Security Directorate arrested the activist Arsham Chawish in his apartment in ʿAfrin; his laptop was confiscated. Bashar Husayn Husayn in and ʿAbdurrahman Yusuf were also arrested on October 20 in ʿAfrin after they answered a summons from the State Security Service to report for questioning. Husayn and Yusuf were transferred to the State Security Service Directorate in Aleppo. As an activist from ʿAfrin reported, the three aforementioned individuals represent only a fraction of those arrested in recent days. According to this activist, mass arrests played a significant role in the fact that there were no organized protests in ʿAfrin on that Friday.

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KURDWATCH, October 23, 2011—On October 8, 2011, police in Mufti, al-Hasakah province, arrested Jindar ʿAbdussalam Barakat (b. 1988) due to his participation in a demonstration to mark the assassination of Mishʿal at-Tammu. Barakat was initially held at a police station in al-Hasakah for three days before he was transferred to the Political Security Directorate, where he was held in solitary confinement until October 17. He was regularly beaten and kicked in confinement. Two days later, on October 10, 2011, members of the Political Security Directorate in al-Haskah arrested Ahmad ʿAjil Ahmad (b. 1985). The arrest occurred because Jindar ʿAbdussalam Barakat had called him on the day of his imprisonment; his number was saved in Barkat´s cell phone. Ahmad was also regularly beaten and kicked until his release on October 17.
Charges were brought against Barkat and Ahmad pursuant to Articles 374 and 376 of the Criminal Code. The first hearing before the Criminal Court of First Instance in al-Hasakah is scheduled for November 13, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, October 22, 2011—On October 13, 2011, employees of the Air Force Intelligence Service in Aleppo arrested Hasan ʿAti (b. 1967, married, six children) in ʿAyn al-ʿArab. ʿAti is a member of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). The apparent cause of his arrest is his participation in dissident demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, October 21, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zl9LRhuimJ0
http://www.youtube.com/v/TVkbPDyhhIo

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/IIvoPT-mF2g
http://www.youtube.com/v/SoLW52JJa8E

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KURDWATCH, October 20, 2011—On October 17, 2011, the Criminal Court of First Instance in Raʾs al-ʿAyn postponed the hearing against the following persons until November 22, 2011: Hasan Yusiv Biro (attorney), Muhammad Yusiv Biro, Kamiran Muhammad Yusiv Biro, Mahmud Muhammad al-ʿAmo (member of the politburo of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî)), Mahmud Wali Schaykh Muhammad, ʿUmar Wali Shaykh Muhammad, Shamsaddin Mawlud Hasan Beg, Khalid Sharif Saydo, Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim, Muhammad Ibrahim Ala Rashi, Farhan ʿAbdulaziz Shaykhu, Khalid Mahmud Khalil, Khorshid Munir Mulla Darwish, ʿIssa Taha Muhammad ʿAli, Kaniwar Bobo Ayana, Khalid Khalil Mahmud, Khalid Khalil Miʿe, and Mahmud Jalil ʿAbdulhalim. The activists are charged pursuant to Articles 307, 374, and 376 of the criminal code.

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KURDWATCH, October 16, 2011—On October 15, 2011, following the protests in ʿAfrin, security forces sought out demonstration participants in their homes and arrested them. Sulayman Waziro was among those arrested. KurdWatch has not yet received any other names.

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KURDWATCH, October 16, 2011—Nationwide protests on October 14, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country demonstrators united under the slogan »The Free Armed Forces« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), ʿAfrin, and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî). In ʿAfrin security forces stormed the largest protest organized by politically independent activists to date and beat the participants. Many of them suffered injuries. More than twenty demonstrators were arrested, including Muhammad Hasan Kurd, Goran Ahmad, Anwar Simo, Muhammad Haji, and Muhammad Shaykh Sidi. A demonstration organized by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) also took place in ʿAfrin. The approximately 1,000 participants demanded cultural rights for the Kurds; security forces did not intervene.

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KURDWATCH, October 14, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/NOQaxaAe2rg

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/hs9m-br2qlc
http://www.youtube.com/v/w0siUIQgV9Y

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KURDWATCH, October 14, 2011—On October 4, 2011, Syrian security forces arrested the twelfth grader Renas Faysal Barkan (b. 1992) at a demonstration in al-ʿAziziyah, a district of Aleppo. He was transferred to the criminal investigation department. His current whereabouts are unknown.

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KURDWATCH, October 13, 2011—Luqman Mustafa Sulayman, a writer and active member of the dissident Sawa Youth Coalition (b. 1962, married, four children), told KurdWatch that since the assassination of Mischʿal at-Tammu, he has received threatening phone calls from suppressed numbers. The phone calls only last a few seconds. »Each time someone threats me in Arabic that soon I will meet Mischʿal at-Tammu if Sawa and I do not cease our activities.« Since the beginning of the protests in Syria, Sawa has regularly organized dissident demonstrations with other Kurdish groups.

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KURDWATCH, October 12, 2011—Hasan Salih, Assistant Secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), has publicly demanded the fall of the Syrian regime. At the grave of Hasan Mustafa ʿAbdullah, who was shot and killed on October 8, 2011 in al-Qamishli, Salih stated: »The Syrian people have given its word: We will not bend until the regime has fallen. That is our motto. That is the motto of the Syrian National Council. That is the motto of the opposition within the country and abroad.« The Syrian National Council was founded on October 2, 2011 in Istanbul. The Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) is a member of this body. The party is also represented in the Kurdish Patriotic Movement in Syria, an association of a total of eleven Kurdish parties. Thus far, both this association and the Yekîtî had refrained from calling for the fall of the regime. See also the KurdWatch interview with Ismaʿil Hami, Secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), on September 17, 2011. [Read the nterview]

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KURDWATCH, October 11, 2011—Security forces used tear gas and shot at mourners during the funeral procession for Mishʿal at-Tammu on October 8 in al-Qamishli. Around 100,000 people took part in the procession. Two people were killed: Hasan Mustafa ʿAbdullah (b. 1962, married, eight children) and Jamal Husayn Husayn (b. 1959, married, six children). There were numerous people injured. Out of fear of state persecution, many of the injured refused to be treated in hospitals.
In protest against the assassination of Mishʿal at-Tammu, demonstrations also took place in ʿAmudah, al-Malikiyah (Dêrik), Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al-ʿAarab, ʿAfrin, Ras al-ʿAyn, and Aleppo. In ʿAmudah, where 15,000 people took to the streets, the statue of Hafiz al-Assad, ex-president and father of Bashar al-Assad, was initially set on fire and later toppled. When the funeral procession for Mishʿal at-Tammu reached ʿAmudah, his body was laid on the place of the fallen statue. At-Tammu was subsequently brought to Darbasiyah – around 10,000 people were demonstrating there – where his burial took place.
The protests also reached Europe: Kurdish activists occupied Syrian diplomatic missions in Geneva, Berlin, London, Brussels, Hamburg, Paris, and Vienna.

The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/jbcUlU8NR3k

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KURDWATCH, October 10, 2011—On October 7, 2011 Mishʿal at-Tammu (b. 1957) was assassinated in al-Qamishli. The speaker of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria was attending a political meeting with his son Marsil Mischʿal at-Tammu (b. 1988), his brother ʿAbdurrazzaq at-Tammu, party member Zahida Raschkilo, and three other people in a house in al-Qamshli, when a group of five men entered the house and asked, in Arabic, for at-Tammu. When he stood up, they opened fire. Already lying on the floor, at Tammu was intentionally shot in his head. His son Marsil had to be operated on due to a gunshot wound to the stomach, and Zahida Rashkilo suffered a leg injury.
On September 8, 2011, at-Tammu had only barely escaped an attempt on his life [KurdWatch reported]; since then he had periodically lived in hiding. Following the assassination attempt, he explained to KurdWatch:
»The regime issues the order. But, of course, acquaintances will carry out the order. The regime has many henchmen. We have received information that attempts will be made on the lives of well-known figures. It is not important who carries out the orders, what is more important is that it is the government that issues the orders. [...] When we made our stance on the regime and our stance on Kurdish participation in the Syrian revolution clear, we knew that such a thing could happen. […] We decided that we will win our freedom. Either we will win our freedom alive or we will die honorably. We will never stray from this course. [...] In Kobanî an activist was kidnapped. In Serê Kaniyê two others were beaten. In Dêrik there was an attempted kidnapping. We do not want a Kurdish-Kurdish conflict. This is a national matter, not a Kurdish one. One must take a position. [...] There are two camps: One does not want the regime to fall. The other demands the fall, which includes us, and the boys of the revolutionary groups. This is why it is believed that we are leading the protests and ruining everything.«
At-Tammus mention of the kidnappings carried out by the PYD in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) [further information on the case], Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Sêrê Kaniyê) [further information on the case] and al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) all in connection with the assassination attempt make it clear that he suspected that the PYD was behind the attack. At the same time, he wanted to avoid an inner-Kurdish conflict and emphasized that what is important is who gives the orders, not who carries them out. Shortly after the assassination of at Tammu, dissident demonstrations took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, al-Hasakah, and Darbasiyah. These protests also protested the assassination of Mishʿal at Tammu. The demonstrators demanded the fall of the regime and the resignation of the president. The Kurdish Patriotic Movement in Syria, a coalition of a total of eleven Kurdish parties [further information on the Kurdish Patriotic Movement] issued a declaration stating that the Syrian government is responsible for the safety of its people and demands an investigation of the case.

The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/HUlzDLcGUok

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KURDWATCH, October 7, 2011—On August 29, 2011, the activist Basam Ahmad Haji Mustafa (b. 1963, married, two children) was arrested in Aleppo. To date, both his whereabouts and which security service arrested him remain unknown.

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KURDWATCH, October 7, 2011—On October 4, 2011, the police arrested ʿAziz Ibrahim Schaykhi (b. 1981, married, one child) and Taysir Hito in ʿAmudah. After hours of public protest, the two activists were released from custody later that evening. The reason given for their arrests was their participation in a dissident demonstration by school students that same day. Four of the participating students were also temporarily arrested.

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KURDWATCH, October 6, 2011—On October 2, 2011, the bar association´s Court of Professional Conduct in al-Hasakah postponed the hearing against the attorney Mustafa Khidr Oso [further information on the case] and the attorney Faysal Badr [further information on the case] until October 31, 2011. The request for an extension came from the defense for the two human rights activists.

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KURDWATCH, October 4, 2011—Nationwide protests on September 30, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Victory for our Syria and our Yemen« took to the streets and demanded the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In al‑Qamishli, a bullet injured seventeen-year-old Diyar Muhammad Dawud’s arm when a Syrian official shot into the crowd. Prior to this the demonstrators had attacked the official’s car thinking he was an intelligence service employee.

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KURDWATCH, October 3, 2011—Due to their participation in unauthorized demonstrations, charges pursuant to Articles 335 and 336 of the Criminal Code were raised against the following people: Muhammad Ashraf Sino (attorney), ʿAli ʿAbdullah Koro (attorney), ʿAbdulwahhab Jamil Muhammad, Mishʿal at‑Tammu, Muhammad ʿAbdurrahman Shadid, ʿAbdurrahman Yusuf ʿUthman, ʿAbdurrazzaq at‑Tammu, ʿAbdussamad Muhammad ʿAli ʿUmar, Muhammad Siraj Kalash, Ayman Nuri Hasan, ʿAdil ʿIzzuddin Khalaf, ʿAli Hajj Qasim, Shapal Muhammad Ibrahim, and Salih ʿAbbas Mishawah. The Criminal Court of First Instance in al‑Qamishli will hear the cases on October 5, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, October 2, 2011—Due to their participation in unauthorized demonstrations, charges pursuant to Articles 335, 336, 375, and 376 of the Criminal Code were raised against the following people: Muhammad Sulayman Khalil (attorney), Sulayman Muhammad Ismaʿil (attorney), ʿAbdulwahhab Jamil Muhammad, ʿAli ʿAbdullah ʿAliko (attorney), Majid Ibrahim ʿAlo, Ismaʿil ʿAliko, and Akram Miʿu. The Criminal Court of First Instance in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn will hear the cases on October 9, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/QMriz2TUEno

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2011—The first hearing in the case of the attorney and human rights activist Mustafa Khidir Oso is sheduled to take place before the bar association’s Court of Professional Conduct in al-Hasakah on October 2, 2011. Oso, who has worked as an attorney since 1992, is facing an occupational ban. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, September 27, 2011—On September 20, 2011, the Criminal Court in al-Qamishli ruled that Faysal Naʿsu will be released from custody. Charges pursuant to Articles 288 and 336 of the Criminal Code are pending against the politician. The next hearing is expected to take place before the end of September.
Following his arrest at the Aleppo airport, Naʿsu initially spent one day in Aleppo’s central prison before he was transferred to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus. He was held for a total of nine days and questioned about his activities in Sweden. He was subsequently detained for four days at the ʿAdra prison before a decision by the prosecution in Damascus moved him to the civil prison in al-Hasakah, where he was held for an additional four days. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, September 26, 2011—Nationwide protests on September 23, 2011 once again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Unity of the Opposition« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). As they did at a demonstration on September 20, security forces used tear gas against demonstrators. Several people were arrested and numerous cell phones were confiscated.

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KURDWATCH, September 25, 2011—On September 22, 2011, the Air Force Intelligence Service arrested the activist Shapal Ibrahim (b. 1977, married, three children) in al-Qamishli. The apparent reason for his arrest is his participation in dissident demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2011—On September 20, 2011, members of the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli arrested Musa ʿUthman alias Musa Sakhurani, (b. 1955, married, eleven children) at the Nusaybin/al-Qamishli border point when he was returning to Syria from a visit with family in Iraqi Kurdistan. He was brought to Damascus that same day. Before his trip to Iraq, ʿUthman had taken part in numerous demonstrations against the regime.

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KURDWATCH, September 21, 2011—On September 16, 2011, the attorney and human rights activist Muhammad Ibrahim Darwish (b. 1972, married, two children) was arrested at the Nusaybin/al-Qamishli border crossing while attempting to enter Turkey. He was initially taken to the Political Security Directorate in al-Qamishli. Later he was moved to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, September 19, 2011—The demonstration in ʿAmudah (September 16, 2011):

http://www.youtube.com/v/uFmXIQ3QOqQ

http://www.youtube.com/v/vUrefIealH0

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KURDWATCH, September 18, 2011—With Decree No. 110, dated September 6, 2011, the Syrian President amended Articles 335 and 336 of the Criminal Code. Until now, people who were charged pursuant to Article 335 of the Criminal Code for participating in an unauthorized demonstration could expect a prison sentence of between one month and one year and a fine of one hundred Syrian liras. Under the new amendment, the fine was raised to twenty thousand Syrian liras. Until now, people who were charged pursuant to Article 336 for participating in a riot could expect a prison sentence of between one month and one year. With the amendment to Article 336, the same criminal offense can result in an additional fine of fifty thousand Syrian liras. All those who are currently taking part in dissident demonstrations throughout the country are especially affected by the decree.

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KURDWATCH, September 20, 2011—On September 1, 2011, an armed group in ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî) kidnapped and ill-treated the high school graduate Mustafa al-Mahmud (b. 1992). A total of four people, including one woman, took part in the kidnapping. At least two of the kidnappers were Kurds from Turkey. The driver of the car used in the kidnapping was Hasan Khalil Hamoke, a member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) who is known in the region. After witnesses identified the car and the driver, Mustafa al-Mahmud was released on September 2, 2011. As a reason for the kidnapping, the PYD in ʿAyn al-ʿArab claimed that Mustafa al-Mahmud had sold drugs and that they had wanted to teach him a lesson. In fact, Mustafa al-Mahmud is an activist who regularly partakes in dissident demonstrations in ʿAyn al-ʿArab. For months the PYD has been trying to stop all dissident demonstrations in both ʿAyn al-ʿArab and ʿAfrin. Moreover, multiple activists in Aleppo and ʿAfrin have been threatened in recent months.

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KURDWATCH, September 17, 2011—Ismaʿil Hami (b. 1964) is a founding member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), which was established in 1999. Since 2010 he has been the Party's secretary. He lives in al-Qamishli. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, Hami speaks about his Party's role in the Syrian revolution and about the Kurdish Patriotic Movement's relationship to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. [Read more]

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KURDWATCH, September 16, 2011—Nationwide protests on September 16, 2011, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »We will continue until we bring down the regime« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/kFuJyRVx36s

http://www.youtube.com/v/6KqmjsQ7yT0

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KURDWATCH, September 16, 2011—On September 13, 2011, the Syrian Ministry of the Interior announced that registered stateless people (ajanib), since the passage of Decree 49 on April 7, 2011, have submitted more than 59,000 petitions for the naturalization. The petitions would affect a total of 91,000 people. A total of 51,000 people are said to have already received a Syrian identification card. Moreover, the Ministry has made it clear that there is no time limit for submitting a petition for naturalization. In Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), Tel Tamir, ash-Shadada, and al-Yaʿrubiyah (Tel Koçer) submitted petitions are said to have already been processed.

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KURDWATCH, September 16, 2011—Charges were raised against the following people for their participation in unauthorized demonstrations: Ayman Nuri Hasan, Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Shapal Muhammad Amin Ibrahim, ʿAbdulsalam Yusiv ʿUthman, ʿAli Haj Qasim, ʿAdil ʿIzzaddin Khalaf, Kadar Farhan Khidir, Muhammad Saʿid Wadi, and Marsil Mishʿal at-Tammu (b. 1988). The Criminal Court in al-Qamishli will take up their case for the first time on September 20, 2011. The defendants were not detained.
The following people were also charged with participating in unauthorized demonstrations: Alan Ibrahim, Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Hasan Ahmad ʿAbdulrazzaq, ʿAdil ʿIzzaddin Khalaf, ʿAbdulsalam Ibrahim (alias Siyamend Ibrahim, b. 1955), ʿAbdulsalam Yusiv ʿUthman, Fatima Muhammad Ibrahim (alias Narin Matini), Muhammad Hafiz Musa, Muhammad al-Shafiʿi, Mishʿal at-Tammu (b. 1957), Nadia Muhammad Ibrahim, and Nuha Bahlawi. The Criminal Court of First Instance in al-Qamishli will try their case on September 21, 2011. These defendants were also not detained.

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KURDWATCH, September 14, 2011—On September 9, 2011, Mahmud Schaich Muslim Qadir, Mahmdu Mulla ʿAli, Abdulsatar Maʿsum Husain, and Mahmdu Qol Aghasi were arrested in ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî). The apparent reason for their arrest was their participation in a dissident demonstration in ʿAyn al-ʿArab.

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KURDWATCH, September 12, 2011—According to his own account, Mishʿal at-Tammu (b. 1957), speaker of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria, narrowly escaped an attempt on his life on September 8, 2011. In a telephone conversation with KurdWatch, at-Tammu explained that he, his son, and another party member were on their way to a Future Movement meeting in al-Qamishli at around 4:00 pm, when two men on a motorcycle tried to stop his car. Another car with tinted windows was following behind them. They were able to leave the motorcycle behind, but the other car passed and then stopped them. An armed man exited the vehicle, but immediately stumbled, which allowed at-Tammu and his companions to escape their pursuers. Mishʿal at-Tammu told KurdWatch that he holds the Syrian government responsible for the assassination attempt.

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KURDWATCH, September 9, 2011—Nationwide protests on September 9, 2011, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »International protection« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/F4x_jEQgAPs

The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/zQ9aK4X8KeI

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KURDWATCH, September 9, 2011—On September 6, 2011, the teacher Mustafa ʿAbdulhamid Ramadan (b. 1977) was arrested while trying to enter Turkey at the Nusaybin/al-Qamishli border crossing. He was transferred to the Political Security Directorate in al-Qamishli. The apparent reason for his arrest was his participation in dissident demonstrations in ʿAmudah. Ramadan was released from custody on September 7.

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KURDWATCH, September 8, 2011—On September 4, 2011, the al-Hasakah bar association opened disciplinary proceedings against the attorney and human rights activist Faisal Badr (b. 1963, married, four children). The assumed reason for the proceedings is Badr´s participation in a candlelight vigil organized by attorneys in al-Hasakah in protest, among other things, against the bar association´s persecution of oppositional attorneys. In an interview with the television station al-Arabiya, Badr had commented publicly on the candlelight vigil.

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KURDWATCH, September 7, 2011 – On September 2, 2011, members of the Air Force Intelligence Service arrested several dissident demonstrators in ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî). The individuals in question are Salar Bakir, ʿAbdulla Hama, Haji Ramadan, Mustafa ʿAli, Ahmad Muslim, Azad ʿAbdu, and Imam Muhammad Imam. Soon after ʿAlaʾiddin Hamam, a member of the politburo of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), was also arrested. Later that night, armed security forces stormed the apartments of the human rights activist and attorney Radif Anwar Mustafa (b. 1967, married, four children), the politburo member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) Mustafa Bakir, and the human rights activist Mustafa Ahmad, alias Mustafa Khanu. The three activists are still being hunted.

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KURDWATCH, September 7, 2011—On September 2, 2011, Faysal Naʿsu (b. 1957, married, five children) was arrested at the Aleppo airport. Naʿsu, a member of the Central Committee of Dr. ʿAbdulhakim Bashar´s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (al-Partî) was returning from a private trip to Sweden.

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KURDWATCH, September 6, 2011—ʿAbdurrahman Rashad Hami (b. 1967, married, two children) was arrested on September 3, 2011, when he tried to apply for an exit permit at the Immigration and Passport Authority. Hami is the brother of Ismaʿil Hami, secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî).

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KURDWATCH, September 6, 2011—On September 4, 2011, armed members of the police and the Political Security Directorate detained the student and human rights activist Juan Sulayman ʾAyo (b. 1981) in Raʾs al-ʿAin (Serê Kaniyê). At three in the morning, approximately thirty members of the security forces stormed ʾAyo´s apartment and arrested him. He was brought to the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah that same day.

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KURDWATCH, September 5, 2011—In recent days numerous people have been arrested in al-Qamishli for participating in dissident demonstrations. Saʿid Muhammad Saʿid, Khorshid Najdat Muhammad, Fathullah Husayn Hasan, Fanar Khalil, ʿAbdullah ʿUmar ʿAbdullah, Nayif Yusiv ʿAbdi, ʿAbdurrahman Ahmad Silu, Akram Muhammad ʿAbdi, Muhammad Yusiv Tayba, Nayif Jumʿah Shamlana, Sardar Hasan Qari, ʿAbdullah ʿUthman ʿIdo, Dilshad ʿAbdurrazaq ʿArab, Kaniwar Jumʿah ʿUthman, Tahir Zaki ʿArab, Faysal ʿAzam, Muhammad Shabib, and Jamal Abu Dilo were detained on August 25. Furthermore, on August 31, Usama Mansur al-Hilali was arrested. Al-Hilali is a member of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria.

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KURDWATCH, September 3, 2011—The human rights activist Ismaʿil ʿAbdi returned to Germany on August 21, 2011. The German citizen had been arrested a year earlier, on August 23, 2010, in Aleppo. He was detained without trial in the ʿAdra prison near Damascus until March 30, 2011. On April 18, 2011, ʿAbdi was sentenced to seven months and seven days imprisonment. Since he was banned from traveling, however, he was only now able to leave Syria. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, September 2, 2011—Nationwide protests on September 2, 2011, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Death rather than humiliation« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/GVi1K8s7iP8

The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/t2r-MOB65JI

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KURDWATCH, August, 31, 2011—For the first time in recent history, the Kurdish parties in Syria and the Kurdish revolutionary groups have canceled the festivities at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. They justified this decision by pointing to the current situation, in particular, the number of dead and injured throughout the country. In the early morning of the first day of the »Sugar Festival«, dissident demonstrations already took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) and al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik).

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KURDWATCH, August 30, 2011—On August 28, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Majdal ʿAbdulfatah ʿUji (b. 1957, married, six children) will remain in custody. Members of the military intelligence service arrested ʿUji on August 26, 2011. He is accused of making critical statements on the Syrian regime. ʿUji works as an engineer for the Department of Defense.

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KURDWATCH, August 30, 2011—In a statement on August 29, 2011, the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria reported that PYD functionaries are threatening its members. The specific case concerns Fahima Salih Usi, alias Harvin Usi (b. 1979). In a phone conversation with KURDWATCH, Usi confirmed that on August 27, 2011 the PYD official for Damascus as well as the official for PYD women’s issues in Damascus visited her at home. She was allegedly called a »traitor« and was threatened with her life should her party fail to change its critical stance on the Syrian regime. According to the PYD functionaries, all other parties are already »controlled« by the PYD.

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KURDWATCH, August 29, 2011—On August 24, 2011, the attorney and human rights activist Ridwan ʿOthman Saydo (b. 1973, married, three children) was arrested at the Nusaybin/al-Qamischli border crossing. He was returning to Syria after a private trip to Turkey. At the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah, he was interrogated regarding his participation in dissident demonstrations. On August 25, 2011, he was released from custody.

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KURDWATCH, August 26, 2011—Nationwide protests on August 26, 2011, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Patient and determined« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).

The demonstration in ʿAmudah:

http://www.youtube.com/v/F4BEzACDeEE

The demonstration in al-Qamishli:

http://www.youtube.com/v/KS017LuLK18

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KURDWATCH, August 26, 2011—On August 23, 2011, the investigating judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Salman Husayn Bozo (b. 1979) will be released from custody on a bond of 500 Syrian liras. On August 24, 2011, the investigating judge made the same ruling with regard to Botan Ibrahim Ramu (b. 1996) and Shivan ʿAbdulbaqi Ahmad (b. 1995). The three activists are charged with participating in an unauthorized demonstration. Police arrested them on August 18, 2011 in al-Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, August 26, 2011—On August 22, 2011, the investigating judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Farhan Ismaʿil Sulayman (b. 1986) and Muhamad Fathi ʿAbdullah (b. 1996) will be released from custody. The charges raised against them pursuant to articles 307, 374, and 375 were dropped. The two activists had been arrested on August 17, 2011 in al-Qamishli. They were accused of putting up posters calling for dissident protest. While in pre-trial custody, Farhan Ismaʿil Sulayman was tortured.

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KURDWATCH, August 23, 2011—On August 18, 2011, the activist and student Sirur ʿAli Shaykhmus (b. 1978) was arrested in Damascus. The apparent cause of his arrest was his participation in dissident demonstrations. Until now it is not known where Shaykhmus is being held and by which security service.

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KURDWATCH, August 23, 2011—On August 21, 2011, members of the Military Intelligence Service arrested the activists ʿAbdulhamid ʿAbdulbasir al-Husayni (b. 1983, married, one child) and ʿAziz Ibrahim Shaykhi (b. 1981, married, one child) in ʿAmudah. The two activists were brought to al-Qamishli in the trunk of a car. They were repeatedly beaten, pulled by the hair, and insulted. In al-Qamishli they were interrogated about their participation in dissident demonstrations in ʿAmudah. They were again beaten several times. Following their arrest more than a thousand demonstrators gathered in front of the police station in ʿAmudah. They demanded the release of the two activists and the fall of the regime. ʿAbdulhamid ʿAbdulbasir al-Husayni was released from custody in the afternoon, ʿAziz Ibrahim Shaykhi at night.

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KURDWATCH, August 19, 2011—Hasan ʿAbdulʿazim (b. 1932) is chairman of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union Party and the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change, which was founded on June 30, 2011 in Damascus. ʿAbdulʿazim is an attorney and lives in Damascus. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, he outlines approaches to resolving the Kurdish question in Syria. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, August 18, 2011—On August 16, 2011, the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) announced its withdrawal from the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change. The Syrian coalition was founded on June 30, 2011 in Damascus [KurdWatch reported].
The Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) justified its withdrawal by stating that the founding declaration of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change did not formulate the Kurdish question clearly enough. Moreover, according to Yekîtî, the sentence stating that Syria is »an indivisible part of the Arab Nation« has led to confusion. Yekîtî further explained that it remains governed by the demands regarding the Kurdish question in Syria as presented by the Kurdish parties on May 14, 2011 [KurdWatch reported].
In the opinion of Yekîtî, at this time it does not make sense to be part of an oppositional Syrian coalition. Thus, Yekîtî calls on the other Kurdish parties to pull out of the Damascus Declaration and the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change for as long as the opposition remains split for reasons that have nothing to do with the interests of the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution. In the view of Yekîtî, the Kurdish parties should form an independent bloc before building a new union with these two big Syrian coalitions.

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KURDWATCH, August 17, 2011—On August 15, 2011, the investigating judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Saʿid Muhammad Muhammad will remain in custody. Charges have been raised against him for participating in riots, insulting the president, and resisting state authority. Muhammad was arrested on August 3, 2011 in al-Qamishli. While in pre-trial custody, he was tortured several times; his court date before the investigating judge was initially postponed due to visible evidence of torture. This is the third time within weeks that Saʿid Muhammad Muhammad was arrested for participating in dissident demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, August 15, 2011—Nationwide protests on August 12, 2011, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »We only kneel before God« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Protests also took place in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). In al‑Qamishli, demonstrators carried both the Syrian and Kurdish flags. Numerous Kurdish politicians, writers, and artists, as well as Muslim Arabs, Assyrians, and other Christians, took part in the demonstration. Thus far it is unknown if arrests took place.

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KURDWATCH, August 12, 2011—Samir Nashar (b. 1945) is chairman of the Secretariat General and spokesman for The Damascus Declaration for National Democratic Change, which was founded in October 2005 in Damascus. Nashar is a merchant and lives in Aleppo. In a conversation with KURDWATCH, he sketches approaches to solving the Kurdish question in Syria. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, August 11, 2011—On August 8, 2011, several armed persons in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) kidnapped the political activists Muhammad Yusuf Biro (b. 1968, married, four children) and Mahmud Wali (b. 1968, married, six children). The kidnappers brutally beat their victims before leaving them outside of the city. Both activists’ noses were broken. Photographs show that the victims’ faces are massively swollen and bruised.
Biro and Wali are leading activists within Raʾs al‑ʿAyn’s dissident groups. In a statement, these groups held members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) responsible for the deed. A member of the PYD did, in fact, summon the two activists to a meeting. At the meeting place, they were asked to get into a car where two men and a woman were sitting. When one of the activists tried to call a family member, he was paralysed with an electric-shock baton.
In recent weeks, controversy arose between supporters of the PYD and dissident activists in several cities about the form of protests. In Raʾs al‑ʿAyn, the PYD allegedly held Muhammad Yusuf Biro and Mahmud Wali responsible for the fact that the dissident demonstrations that it organized receive little support.
In a statement, the PYD denied any responsibility for the incident.

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KURDWATCH, August 10, 2011—On August 9, 2011, the Criminal Court in al‑Qamishli ruled that ʿAdil ʿIyzzuddin Khalaf, Usamah Sulayman Mansur al‑Hilali, and Shaykh ʿAbdussamad Muhammad ʿAli ʿUmar (b. 1962, married, six children) will be released from custody. Charges have been raised against the men, who took part in dissident demonstrations, for participating in riots, insulting the president, and resisting state authority.
Khalaf, al‑Hilali, and ʿUmar were arrested on August 2, 2011 in al‑Qamishli. At the police station there, they were tortured along with other detainees. The bisat‑al‑rih method was used, in which the hands and feet are bound with ropes and pulled in four different directions, while the person in question is beaten all over his body. The detainees’ eyes were bound and noses were plugged; a sandal was shoved into one person’s mouth. Although they were fasting, the detainees were forced to drink water, and torturers urinated in the mouths of several detainees. During the torture, which broke one of Usamah Sulayman Mansur al‑Hilali’s toes, the detainees had to chant »With our souls and our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you, oh Bashar«. Khalaf, al‑Hilali and ʿUmar were subsequently brought blindfolded to the basement, where security forces punched and kicked them. As one detainee described the situation to KurdWatch, »They treated us as if we were balls.«
The same day, the three detainees were transferred to the police in al‑Hasakah. There they were again blindfolded, kicked, and beaten all over their bodies—sometimes with billy clubs. When they fell to the ground, they were pulled upright by their hair. Subsequently they were forced to kneel on the floor until their interrogations began. When the weakened detainees attempted to sit down, they were beaten and ordered to kneel again.
In the days that followed, interrogations took place twice daily. During interrogations, the detainees were regularly slapped. They spent the rest of the time handcuffed in a windowless room of roughly 1.80 meters by 1.20 meters in the basement of the police station. On August 8, 2011, Khalaf, al‑Hilali, and ʿUmar were returned to al‑Qamishli. KurdWatch currently knows of six additional demonstrators detained in al‑Qamishli. The individuals in question are Muhammad Hijab Busri, Sipan Husayn Usi, Khalid ʿAbdulhamid Asʿad, Alan Fahd Husayn, Adham Sulayman ʿAbdullah, and Muhammad Sarbast Muhammad. They are also said to have been severely tortured. Adham Sulayman ʿAbdullah and Muhammad Sarbast Muhammad were released from custody on August 9, 2011 by the investigating judge in al‑Qamishli. The other four men remain in custody. Charges have been raised against all six for participating in riots, insulting the president, and resisting state authority.
Until now there were no known instances of torture against detained demonstration participants in the Kurdish regions. The cases described above suggest that the Syrian government has changed its stance. Like detainees in other regions, detainees in the Kurdish regions are now subject to severe torture.

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KURDWATCH, August 8, 2011—Nationwide protests on August 5, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured, especially in the city of Hamah. The number of dead is estimated to be at more than 2,000 since the beginning of protests in mid-March. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »God is with us« and took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. In al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), between 20,000 and 25,000 people took part in the protests. Several arrests allegedly occurred. Following considerable criticism, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) no longer participated in the demonstrations as it had in the previous two weeks. In ʿAyn al‑ʿArab, a large number of armed security forces prevented the planned mass demonstration from taking place. Instead, smaller demonstrations took place in several districts. Since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, protest rallies have regularly taken place following the evening prayer—not only in the Kurdish regions, but also in other parts of the country.

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KURDWATCH, August 6, 2011—On August 4, 2011, the al-Hasakah branch of the Syrian bar association questioned the attorney Mustafa Khidir Oso (b. 1964, married, four children) regarding his activities as a human rights activist. Oso was questioned at the behest of the president of the Syrian bar association. He is accused of violating statute No. 30 of 2010, a statute that addresses the organization of the legal profession. Among other things, Article 4 of this statute states that it is the bar association´s task to pursue the goals of the Arab nation and to be juridically active for the purposes of Arab society.
In recent weeks, Oso gave numerous television interviews on the situation of human rights in Syria. Among other things, he explained that the Syrian regime had lost its legitimacy due to the many fatalities among the demonstrators. Moreover, Oso took part in a demonstration on July 26, 2011 in al-Hasakah. As an attorney and the chairman of the Kurdish Organization for the Defense of Human Rights and General Freedoms in Syria (DAD), Oso has also represented numerous political prisoners before the court in recent years.
Oso, who has worked as an attorney since 1992, is now facing an occupational ban.

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KURDWATCH, August 5, 2011—On July 28, 2011, the Court of First Instance in Aleppo ruled that ʿAbdulhamid Saʿadaddin Jolbak will be released from custody. Jolbak was arrested on July 6, 2011, for his refusal to participate in a pro-Assad demonstration. No charges were raised against him. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, August 4, 2011—On July 22, 2011, the engineer and political activist Adham Wanli (b. 1950, married, four children) was arrested in Damascus. The apparent cause of his arrest was his participation in dissident demonstrations. Adham Wanli is related to Zardasht Wanli, who was killed by gunfire during a dissident demonstration in Damascus on July 15, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, August 3, 2011—Charges filed against Muhammad Nuri Abu Bakir, Hasan Mahmud Tahir ʿIssa and ʿAbdi Ahmad Hamo pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code have been dropped due to Decree 61 of May 31, 2011 (the Amnesty Decree). The persons named above were arrested for their participation in a demonstration organized by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on December 15, 2010 in al-Qamishli. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, August 2, 2011—On July 31, 2011, the court in ʿAmudah ruled that the political activists Kandal Parwiz Muhammad ʿAli, Aram ʿIsa Ibrahim and Muhammad Fawzi are to be released from custody. A trial was not initiated. On July 18, 2011, the persons named above were arrested in al-Qamishli for participating in a dissident demonstration and transferred to the police in al-Hasakah. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, August 1, 2011—Members of the Air Force Intelligence Service in Aleppo arrested Idris Khalil Hamu ʿAbdi (b. 1977) on July 30, 2011 in ʿAin al-ʿArab. The apparent cause of the arrest is his participation in anti-regime demonstrations in ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî).

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KURDWATCH, August 1, 2011—Numerous people were once again injured or killed in nation-wide protests on July 29, 2011. Throughout the country, the demonstrators called for the end of the regime. The total number of demonstrators in the Kurdish areas is estimated at between twenty and twenty-five thousand. As in the week before, security forces employed tear gas against demonstrators in al-Qamishli which resulted in several people being injured. Moreover, members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attempted once more to mingle among the demonstrators using PKK flags in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, and Darbasiyah. This led to outraged reactions on the part of the other participants, since it is prohibited by the organizers of the event to show flags other than the Syrian and Kurdish flags.

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KURDWATCH, July 30, 2011—The Syrian government passed a new electoral law on July 26, 2011. In the future, a High Electoral Commission composed of judges located in Damascus will take over the entire electoral process. Until now, the government has been responsible for the electoral process, with the Ministry of the Interior being responsible for national elections and the Ministry for Local Administration responsible for regional elections. The stateless Kurds (ajanib) nationalized according to Decree 49 of April 7, 2011 will also be permitted to vote and stand for office under the new voting law.

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KURDWATCH, July 29, 2011—The Syrian government passed a new law regarding the creation of new politicial parties on July 24, 2011. According to Article 5 of the new law, the following conditions must be fulfilled for a new party to be created:
The party must be oriented in accordance with the Syrian Constitution and democratic and constitutional principles, as well as with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and must respect all treaties signed by the Syrian Arab Republic.
It must defend the unity of the nation and strengthen national unity within society. The basic tenets of the party, its goals and its financial recources must be disclosed publicly. A party may not be established on a religious or regional basis. Furthermore, it may not be associated with a tribe, a social class or a profession, or have its establishment be based on discrimination by race, gender or skin color.
The party organs, the leadership and its activities must be oriented according to democratic principles.
In addition, the party may not pursue military or paramilitary goals either publicly or secretly. It may not employ violence in any form, or threaten or call for violence. Lastly, the party may not be an offshoot of a non-Syrian party or an illegal political organization.
The Syrian Ministry of Justice has announced that the application to found a new party must be reviewed by a committee formed for this purpose. In accordance to Article 7 of the party law, this committee is composed of the Foreign Minister, the Vice President of the Court of Cassation, and three independent personages, who are to be named for a term of three years by the President. In accordance with Article 9, the application for the founding of a new party must be signed by fifty founding members. All founding members must have possessed Syrian citizenship for at least ten years, be at least 25 years of age, be residents of Syria, and be in possession of their full civil and political rights. Further, they may neither have been punished for a crime nor be a member of another Syrian or non-Syrian party.
Furthermore, at its founding a party must have at least 1,000 members, who must be registered with the authorities in at least half of all the provinces of Syria. The percentage of members from a single province may not be less than five percent of the total number of party members. Additionally, all parties must reflect the national structure of Syrian society.

Should no answer be forthcoming within 60 days after the submission of the application for the founding of a new party, the foundation of the party qualifies as approved. Should the application not be granted, the applicants can lodge protest at the appropriate court within fifteen days. The court must reach a decision within 60 days.
The provisions that a party may not be founded on a »regional basis«, that members must come from at least half of all Syrian provinces, and that the party must reflect the »national structure« of Syrian society make the foundation of an explicitly Kurdish-oriented party impossible.

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2011—On the evening of June 23, 2011, police in al-Qamishli arrested Asʿad Fatah Hamdu (b. 1959), ʿAbdulaziz Abdurrazaq Sabri (b. 1961), Hikmat Abdurrahman Jirjis (b. 1963) and Samir Bahram Ibrahim (b. 1978) on the charge of having participated in an unauthorized demonstration the day before. During the demonstration, violent conflict broke out between police and demonstrators. Numerous demonstrators as well as a handful of police officers were injured in the clash. Samir Bahram Ibrahim sustained injuries to the head in the demonstration. On July 24 the persons named above were brought before the criminal court in al-Qamishli. Hamdu, Sabri, and Jirjis were released, as their participation in the demonstration could not be proven. Against Ibrahim, charges pursuant to Article 335 and 336 of the penal code were filed. The next hearing in his case is scheduled for August 22, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2011—Members of the Air Force Intelligence Service in Aleppo arrested Idris Khalil Hamu ʿAbdi (b. 1981, married) on July 23, 2011 . The reason for the arrest is his alleged participation in anti-regime demonstrations in ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî).

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2011—Numerous people were once again injured or killed in nation-wide protests on July 22, 2011. Throughout the country, the demonstrators called for the end of the regime. The total number of demonstrators in the Kurdish areas is estimated at between twenty and twenty-five thousand. Security forces employed tear gas against demonstrators in al-Qamishli which resulted in several people being injured. Members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attempted to mingle among the demonstrators using PKK flags in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, and Darbasiyah. This led to outraged reactions on the part of the other participants, since it is prohibited by the organizers of the event to show flags other than the Syrian and Kurdish flags. Similar actions by the PYD had already led to the cancellation of one anti-regime demonstration in al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) on July 21, 2011. In the past few days, security forces have stormed houses and made numerous arrests in the predominantly Kurdish Damascus neighbourhood of Ruknuddin.

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KURDWATCH, July 24, 2011—Security forces attacked an anti-regime demonstration on July 17, 2011 in ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî). Rodi Radif Mustafa (b. 1992), student, suffered severe injuries to the head in the course of the attack and had to be treated in the hospital for several days. Rodi Mustafa is the son of the lawyer and human rights activist Radif Mustafa. It is still not known whether more people have been injured or arrested.

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KURDWATCH, July 22, 2011—Members of the Air Force Intelligence Service arrested Ways ʿUthman Shaykhi alias Ways Osi (b. 1966, married with six children) on June 19, 2011 in Aleppo. Shaykhi is a party official of the Kurdish Unity Party in Syria (Yekîtî). The apparent cause for the arrest is his participation in an anti-regime protest in ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî).

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KURDWATCH, July 21, 2011—Political activists Kandal Parwiz Muhammad ʿAli (b. 1992), Aram ʿIsa Ibrahim (b. 1992) and Muhammad Fawzi (b. 1992) were arrested in al-Qamishli on July 18, 2011. It is not yet clear who is responsible for the arrests or where the persons concerned are being held.

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KURDWATCH, July 20, 2011—Mishʿal at-Tammu (b. 1957) in conversation with KURDWATCH on the role of the Kurdish opposition in the revolution. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, July 20, 2011—The »National Rescue Conference«, a meeting of parts of the Syrian opposition, took place on July 16, 2011 in Istanbul under the motto »for a civil, democratic, and diverse Syria«. Originally, it was planned that the conference would have a simultaneous counterpart in Damascus. The event was cancelled, however, after fifteen anti-regime demonstrators were killed near the location of the venue on July 15, 2011. On the Kurdish side, the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria was represented by speaker Mishʿal at-Tammu in the preparation committee for Syria. The other Kurdish parties declined to participate in Damascus because, according to Salih Gedo, member of the politburo of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria, they were not represented on the preparation committee. Nor did any party members take part in the Istanbul conference, though a few independent Kurds in exile did. They left the event shortly after the beginning however, when it was discovered the rights of Kurds would not be considered.
Additionally, on July 16, 2011, Mishʿal at-Tammu announced the withdrawal of the Kurdish Future Movement from the »National Rescue Conference«. At-Tammu legitimized this stop with the fact that the participants in the Istanbul conference would not have adhered to decisions reached in Damascus. He criticized the fact in the closing statement from Istanbul, the existence and rights of the Kurds in that »part of Kurdistan which has become attached to Syria« were not mentioned. At-Tammu added, »Those who strive to replace a police state with a religious state are acting illogically and behind the times and hurt the patriotic interests as well as the future of Syria, and also the coexistence and brotherhood of the [various] ethnicities.«
Following this criticism, the participants in the Istanbul conference took over the declaration originally worked out in Damascus. In this it is stated, among other things, that the construction »of a democratic, diverse, civil state with regularly changing rulers« is desired, »in which all Syrians - Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and all other minorities - as well as all religions, Muslims and Christians« should participate. All Syrians, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation, ought to enjoy equal civil rights in a single, commonly held state based on constitutional principles. Mischʿal at-Tammu told KURDWATCH that there will be discussions how to respond to this new development.

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KURDWATCH, July 18, 2011—During nation-wide protests on July 15, 2011 demanding an end to the regime numeruous people were wounded and killed. The demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAin (Serê Kaniyê) and ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî) proceeded largely peacefully. In contrast, in the predominantly Kurdish neighborhood Ruknuddin in Damascus two Kurds were killed in a shooting: eighteen year old Zardasht Wanli and twenty-four year old Muhammad Ghazwan Serwan. In reaction, several hundred people destroyed pictures of Bashar al-Assad in downtown ʿAmudah in the evening. The total number of demonstrators in the Kurdish areas is estimated to be between twenty and fifty thousand.
Another anti-regime demonstration had already taken place in al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) on July 14, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, July 16, 2011—For approximately two months, recruits throughout Syria who have completed their term of military service have not been discharged from the army. This was confirmed by an employee of a draft board in the province of al-Hasakah via KurdWatch.

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KURDWATCH, July 15, 2001—The secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, ʿAbdulhamid Haj Darwish (b. 1936, married, two children), was prevented from leaving Syria via the Aleppo airport on July 13, 2011. Darwish, who wished to fly to Moscow in order to treat an eye disease, was informed that he is not permitted to leave the country.

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KURDWATCH, June 14, 2011—Bans on travel, which are sanctions often used by the Syrian intelligence services against members of the opposition, have been repealed. A few days ago, numerous such travel bans were suspended. In the province of Aleppo alone, 400 people are to benefit from this measure, including Kurdish attorneys Radif Mustafa, Farhad Shahin, Fawzi ʿAli and Subhi al-ʿAli. Opposition members living abroad who have been issued a ban on travel — they can enter Syria but are not allowed to leave the country again — are also among the beneficiaries.

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KURDWATCH, July 13, 2011—On June 16, 2011 the investigating judge in al-Hasakah decided that Hashim Bashir Muhammad (b. 1966, married, eight children), Joli Ibrahim Joli (b. 1991), Zuhayr Ismaʿil al-Ahmad (b. 1981), Usama Fawaz Ibrahim (b. 1988), Hozan Ahmad Ose (b. 1990), Idris Saʿid Shakir (b. 1983) and Ibrahim Khidir Muhammad (b. 1989) will be released from prison. The case of Joli Ibrahim Joli was directed to the young offenders´ court, since Joli was a minor at the time of arrest. Furthermore, the accusation was in so far revised as the six other members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) are no longer charged pursuant to Articles 267 and 305 of the penal code, but pursuant to Articles 267 and 307. This would mean that the charge has to be dropped because of Decree 61 from May 31, 2011 (Amnesty Decree). The public prosecutor´s office has lodged a complaint against this decision of the court and the case is now before the presenting judge in al-Hasakah.
The case of the PYD activists was originally tried before the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus. After that body was dissolved in May 2011 [download decree], the files were given over to the civil court in al-Hasakah which is now responsible for the case.
The persons listed above were arrested in al-Hasakah by members of the Directorate for Political Security in connection with a protest on February 15, 2009, which was organized in al-Hasakh by the PYD on the occasion of the anniversary of the arrest of PKK-leader Abdullah Öcalan. Hozan Ahmad Ose, Zuhayr Ismaʿil al-Ahmad and Usama Fawaz Ibrahim were detained on February 19, Idris Saʿid Shakir on February 25, Joli Ibrahim Joli on March 1, and Hashim Bashir Muhammed on March 26, 2009. At the end of March, all of them were relocated to the Political Security Directorate´s al-Faihaʾ remand prison in Damascus, where they spent four months in solitary confinement. During this time all of them were severely tortured. The Dulab method was employed, in which the victim is forced into a tire and beaten. In addition, the detainees were subjected to electric shock and the Bisat al-Rih method, in which the hands and feet are bound with rope and pulled in four different directions, while the victim simultaneously receives blows upon all body parts. Al-Ahmad and Ibrahim had to be treated in the hospital in al-Hasakah twice due to this mistreatment. After four and a half months in prison, the six activists were transferred to ʿAdra prison near Damascus. Later Ibrahim Khidir, not arrested until August 4, 2010, was also imprisoned there. At the end of May 2010 the entire group was brought to the civil prison in al-Hasakah.

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KURDWATCH, July 12, 2011—The fourth investigating judge in Damascus ruled on June 27, 2011 that Yilmaz Muhammad Nazir Saʿid (b. 1987) and Nidal Ahmad Muhammad (b. 1974, married, four children) were to be released from prison. The charge filed against them in accordance with Article 287 of the penal code was dropped due to Decree 61 of May 31, 2011 (Amnesty Decree).
Yilmaz Muhammad Nazir Saʿid and Nidal Ahmad Muhammad were arrested on May 24, 2011 in Damascus. Saʿid, a political activist, was carrying a satellite phone with him; Ahmad found himself in Saʿid´s company purely by chance. Both were brought to the Political Security Directorate’s al-Faihaʾ remand prison, where Saʿid was held for 26 days in solitary confinement. During the first 12 days he was tortured daily. Along with blows from bear hands, the Dulab method was also employed where the victim is forced into a tire and beaten. Additionally, Saʿid was tortured by electric shock, including in the genital area. Since he could not urinate due to this treatment, he had to be hospitalized twice. Nidal Ahmad Muhammad spent his entire time in custody in a communal cell.

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KURDWATCH, July 11, 2011—Nation-wide protests on July 8, 2011 have again yielded numerous dead and wounded. The demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAin (Serê Kaniyê), ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî) and in the Damascus neighborhood of Ruknuddin, inhabited predominantly by Kurds, proceeded largely peacefully. Across the entire country, the demonstrators demanded the fall of the regime. In ʿAin al-ʿArab, a great number of armed security forces prevented the large demonstration planned from taking place. In spite of this, smaller rallies took place in several quarters of the city. All of the demonstrations were united under the motto »No to dialogue [with the regime]«. The number of demonstrators in the Kurdish areas was estimated to be at between 20,000 — 25,000.
On July 9, 2011, a demonstration critical of the regime took place in Maʿbadah (Girkêligê).
Another anti-Assad demonstration had already taken place in al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) on July 7.

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KURDWATCH, July 11, 2011—Members of the Air Force Intelligence Service in Aleppo arrested ʿAbdulhamid Saʿadaddin Jolbak (b. 1959, married, ten children) on July 6, 2011. Jolbak, who works as an official in the Revenue Department of ʿAin al-ʿArab (Kobanî), had declined to take part in a pro-Assad demonstration in ʿAin al-ʿArab on July 4, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, July 9, 2011—On July 5, 2011, Sher Husayn, Husayn ʿAli Muhammad, Muslim Muhammad, Barkhwadan Mustafa, Bangin Hasan, ʿAbdu Haj Batal and Muhammad ʿAli Shaykh Saydi were released from custody in Aleppo. Charges were filed against them due to participation in an unauthorized demonstration. The first trial will take place on July 31, 2011 at the civil court in ʿAfrin. After their arrest on July 1, 2011 in ʿAfrin, the detainees were brought to the police in Aleppo. They were beaten with bare hands as well as with cudgels in ʿAfrin and in Aleppo. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, July 7, 2011—Orhan Naji Muhammed Husayn (b. 1992) died on June 17, 2011, while carrying out his military service in Damascus. His family assumes that their son was murdered.
Husayn fulfilled his military service in the 14th division of the Syrian Army. After a conflict with his superior, Husayn left his unit and returned to his parents´ home. At this point he expressed his desire not to return to the military due to the fear that he would be killed. However, after the commander of his immediate superior had assured his father by telephone that nothing would happen to Husayn, the former compelled his son to continue his military service. Three days after Husayn’s return, the family received word that he had committed suicide. However, the body, which was personally picked up in Damascus by Husayn´s father, displayed signs which speak against a suicide. The bullet which killed Husayn, according to a family member via KURDWATCH, entered the back of the neck and exited through the forehead.
In past years Kurdish human rights organizations have time and again made cases public in which Kurdish recruits are reputed to have been intentionally killed during their military service. KURDWATCH has thus far not reported on these stories, since in relation to the deceased persons, no reliable proof such as unambiguous statements on the part of the family, autopsy reports or similar evidence were available which might have proven an intentional killing.

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KURDWATCH, July 5, 2011—On June 29, 2011, the family of Tahsin Khairi Mamo was informed that their son has been dead since 2008. The family was issued a death certificate, but no body was released. According to a statement by the Kurdish Unity Party (Yekîtî), Tahsin Khairi Mamo was shot to death in connection with a hunger strike in the Saydnayah prison near Damascus on July 5, 2008. Mamo had been tried at the Supreme State Security Court, which was dissolved in May [download decree]. Mamo´s file was then given over to the responsible civil court in Aleppo, resulting in the news of the death coming out in the open. [Further information on this case]

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KURDWATCH, July 4, 2011—The founding of the »National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change« was announced in Damascus June 30, 2011. In a declaration, the new Union demanded the abolishment of Article 8 of the Syrian constitution, which privileges the Baʿth Party, a national dialogue that aims to achieve democratic change, as well as the dissolution of the reigning government and the formation of a transitional government. The transitional government should adopt the following tasks:

1. The development of a constitution which guarantees a parliamentary system, a civil state, and equal civil rights for all citizens;
2. The development of a modern party, media, and electoral law;
3. The Kurds are historically a crucial part of the patriotic fabric of Syria. From this results the necessity for a just solution to the Kurdish question. The solution must be worked out within a patriotic framework and be based upon the unity of the country and the people. In order to achieve this, constitutional guarantees are required. Herein lies no contradiction to the reality that Syria is an indivisible component of the Arabic nation.

The »National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change« is composed of the »Patriotic Democratic Assembly« (four Arabic parties), the Left-Marxist Assembly (four parties), five Kurdish parties [the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Kurdish Left Party in Syria, the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (al-Partî) of Nasruddin Ibrahim, and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party]. Aside from these, various independent Syrian personalities belong to the Union. Other Kurdish parties, among them the member parties to the Declaration of Damascus, have not joined the new coalition.
The »National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change« has chosen an 18-member executive committee. Muhammad Musa (Left Party), Salih Muslim Mahmud (PYD), and Jamal Baqi Mula Mahmud (Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party) are the Kurdish members of this council. They are to be replaced by other Kurdish representatives every three months. With Jamal Baqi Mula Mahmud a Kurdish representative also sits in the seven-member administrative board. This position is also to be occupied by a different Kurdish representative every three months. The founding of a national council, composed of 60 persons, is planned.

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KURDWATCH, July 4, 2011—During country-wide protests on the July 1, numerous people were injured and killed. The demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), ʿAfrin, ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), Ruknuddin (a neighborhood in Damascus predominantly inhabited by Kurds), and in Shaykh Magsud and al-Ashrafiyah (two predominantly Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo), proceeded largely peacefully. Throughout the country the demonstrators demanded a regime change. The number of demonstrators in the Kurdish areas was estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000. During the demonstration in ʿAfrin Sher Husayn, Husayn ʿAli Muhammad, Muslim Muhammad, Barkhwadan Mustafa, Bangin Hasan, ʿAbdu Haj Batal and Muhammad ʿAli Shaykh Saydi were arrested by members of the security forces.
Already on July 30, 2011, a demonstration critical to the regime took place in al-Malikiyah (Dêrik). There was also a protest against the regime in ʿAmuda on June 30, 2011. A pro-Assad demonstration planned by the government with supporters of the regime from other cities failed when the business people of ʿAmuda closed their shops in protest and a counter-demonstration was organized in the city center. The security forces there used tear gas against the demonstrators. In the process, multiple participants were injured and had to be treated in the local hospital. A further rally critical of the regime took place in ʿAmuda in the evening. Due to the incidents on June 30, the participation in the demonstration in ʿAmuda on July 1, 2011 rose significantly compared to previous weeks.

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KURDWATCH, July 3, 2011—Activists Saʿid Musa and Muhammad Mula Hasan were released from custody on June 29, 2011. After their arrest they were initially transferred to the police in al-Qamishli, who handed the two political activists over to the police force in al-Hasakah. A protest was announced for June 29 in al-Qamishli, where the release of the persons named above was to be demanded. Musa and Hasan were released from custody half an hour after the announcement was issued. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, July 2, 2011—The civil court in Darbasiyah ruled on June 29, 2011, that Farhan Khidir Tammi will be released from custody. Tammi is charged, in connection with the new right to demonstrate, pursuant to Article 335 of the penal code. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 30, 2011—On June 28, 2011, the political activists Saʿid Musa (b. 1954, married, four children) and Muhammad Mulsa Hasan (b. 1970, married, four children) were arrested by members of the Air Force Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli. The cause for the arrest is their participation in demonstrations that are critical of the regime.

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KURDWATCH, June 30, 2011—Farhan Khidir Tammi (b. 1961, married, three children) was arrested in Darbasiyah on June 28, 2011. Tammi is a member of the office for public relations of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. The alleged cause of the arrest was his participation in demonstrations critical of the regime. On the same day of his arrest, more than a thousand people protested in front of the police station in Darbasiyah against his imprisonment and demanded his release.

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KURDWATCH, June 29, 2011—In an interview with KURDWATCH, the 32-year-old Kurdish activist Jan Qmishloki* explains how the dissident demonstrations in the Kurdish regions are organized. [Read the interview]

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KURDWATCH, June 28, 2011—Nation-wide protests on June 24, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Demonstrators everywhere demanded the overthrow of the regime. As in previous weeks, the demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) and Ruknuddin, a predominantly Kurdish-inhabited district of Damascus, were largely peaceful. The number of demonstrators in the Kurdish regions is estimated to have been between 10,000 and 15,000. In the Kurdish cities the demonstrators held up posters that read, for example: »Bashar is not my president and the government does not represent me«, »No to dialogue with the murderers; yes to a national dialogue of redemption«.

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KURDWATCH, June 27, 2011—On June 23, 2011, the investigating judge in al-Qamishli ruled that the attorney and politician Sabri Kanju Mirza will be released from custody. The charges filed against him for participation in a dissident demonstration and membership in an illegal organization were dropped. Following his arrest in al-Qamishli, Mirza was held in the al-Qamischli, al-Hasaka, Dayr az-Zaur and ʾAdra prisons, as well as in the Political Security Directorate’s remand prison in Damascus (al-Fayhaʾ). [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 27, 2011—On June 23, several hundred people in ʿAfrin demanded the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad. The demonstration took place in reaction to the president’s speech on June 20, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, June 26, 2011—Members of the police and various intelligence services stormed a student village after dissident protests at the University of Damascus on the evening of June 21, 2011. Hundreds of students were arbitrarily arrested. The students, including Kurds, were violently taken from their apartments, attacked with batons, and some were injured. Beatings were also used in the interrogations that took place on June 22. Many students were subsequently released. It is currently unclear how many people, if any, are still in custody. Although exams are currently taking place at the university, most of the students left Damascus immediately after their release for fear of further retaliation.
The following people were among those arrested: Dilshad Muhamad Hajji, Farhad Khalil Hamu, Sherwan Mahmud Oskan, Shorash ʿAbdi, Kawa Sulayman, Mazlum Yusiv, Mijwal Masur, Luʾay Ibrahim, Hani Musa, Jiwan Malak, Jivan ʿAli, Jiwan ʿAntu, Jivan Shaykhmus, Ayaz Ramiz, Maʿsum Yusiv and Jaʿfar Ahmad.

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KURDWATCH, June 23, 2011—On June 20, 2011, the judge on the Second Criminal Court in Damascus postponed the trial against Kamal Husayn Shaykhu until July 28, 2011. Prior to the decision, his attorney had submitted a defense plea. A case is in progress against Shaykhu pursuant to Articles 286 and 287 of the Criminal Code. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 23, 2011—During nighttime demonstrations on June 21, 2011, several hundred people took to the streets with candles in al-Qamishli and ʿAmudah. The demonstrators, who were primarily young people, demanded the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad and his regime and showed solidarity with the victims in other Syrian cities. Alluding to Bashar al-Assad’s June 20, 2011 speech, the demonstrators in ʿAmudah held up a poster which read: »Your continuance [as president] is the greatest conspiracy; your disappearance is the reform.«

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KURDWATCH, June 22, 2011—Ibrahim Barakat Ahmad was released from custody in Aleppo on June 16, 2011. The release stems from a decision taken by the single military judge in al-Qamishli on June 9 to drop the charges filed against Ahmad pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. After his arrest on January 19, 2011 in al-Hasakah, Ahmad was initially held for six days at the Political Security Directorate. He was then transferred to the Political Security Directorate’s al-Fayhaʾ remand prison in Damascus. He spent three months there, 25 days of which were in solitary confinement, and was interrogated about his articles as well as his contacts abroad. After his s confinement in Damascus he was brought to the civil prison in Aleppo. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 21, 2011—On June 20, 2011, President Bashar al-Assad gave a third speech to the Syrian people since the unrest began in mid-March. Among other things, he pointed to the fact that since the passage of Decree 49, dated April 7, 2011, more than 36,000 registered stateless (ajanib) have already applied for naturalization. A total of 6,700 people are said to have been naturalized thus far. [Further information on the case] Regarding the promised reforms, the president’s speech remained largely vague. Al-Assad said nothing about the extent to which specific demands of the Kurds would be taken into consideration.

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KURDWATCH, June 20, 2011—On June 4, 2011, ʿAbdulqadir Saydu Ahmad (b. 1974, married, three children) and Jihad Salih ʿAbdu (b. 1967, married) were released from the Saydnaya prison early. The Supreme State Security Court in Damascus had sentenced the two members of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) to five years in prison on June 11, 2011, the. Presumably the early release can be attributed to the Presidential Decree 61 of May 31, 2011 (the amnesty decree). [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 19, 2011—Nation-wide protests demanding the overthrow of the regime on June 17, 2011 again led to numerous dead and injured. As in previous weeks, the demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) were largely peaceful. The number of demonstrators there is estimated to have been between 10,000 and 15,000. Earlier estimates of 30,000 participants were presumably exaggerated. The demonstrators in the Kurdish region also demanded the recognition of the Kurds and the recognition of the Kurdish language as an official language in the Syrian constitution. In al-Qamishli, demonstrators attacked a school building where pictures of the president were displayed. The pictures were publicly burned, and the security services did not intervene.

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KURDWATCH, June 18, 2011—After being held in detention for more than two weeks, Ahmad ʿAbdullah Husayn was released from custody on June 16, 2011. Following his arrest on May 30, 2011, he was held by the police in al-Qamishli for one day and by the police in al-Hasakah for five days. Subsequently, he was brought to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus, where he spent eight nights in solitary confinement. Husayn was interrogated about his political activities and his participation in dissident demonstrations in ʿAmudah. On June 14 he was brought back to al-Qamishli, and two days later was released. Due to Decree 61of May 31, 2011 (Amnesty Decree), no charges were brought against him. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 18, 2011—On June 14, 2011 an Arab delegation, consisting of two Tay tribal chiefs, a Mahalmi tribal chief, as well as a Christian representative, met with a representative of the Kurdish parties. The meeting took place at the request of the Arab delegation. The Kurdish representative was asked to refrain from organizing further dissident demonstrations in the Jazirah or else risk retaliation from the Arab population. The Kurdish negotiator refused this request. Furthermore, he stated that the Kurdish parties reserved the right to also call for demonstrations in Damascus and Aleppo if demonstrations in the Kurdish regions were no longer tolerated. A Kurdish party functionary told KurdWatch that in the opinion of the Kurdish parties, the intelligence service was responsible for the threats. For several days, flyers have been circulating in Jazirah in which Arab groups tell Kurds not to demonstrate anymore lest there be backlash.

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KURDWATCH, June 17, 2011—Political activist Tahir Mahmud Hasaf (b. 1959, married, one child) was arrested on June 11, 2011, when he tried to request a certificate of good conduct in al-Qamishli. After four days in custody in al-Qamishli and al-Hasakah, he was transferred to Damascus. Prior to his arrest, Hasaf had participated in dissident demonstrations in al-Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, June 16, 2011—On June 13, 2011, members of the Political Security Directorate in al-Qamishli arrested the attorney and politician Sabri Kanju Mirza (b. 1950, married, nine schildren). Mirza is a member of the politburo of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). Prior to his arrest, Mirza had participated in a dissident demonstration in al-Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, June 16, 2011—During nighttime demonstrations on June 14, 2011 in al-Qamishli and ʿAmudah, several hundred people took to the streets with candles. The demonstrators demanded an end to the Baʿth regime and showed solidarity with victims in other Syrian cities.

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KURDWATCH, June 14, 2011—Nation-wide protests on June 10, 2011, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. As in previous weeks, the demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî) were largely peaceful. Demonstrators everywhere, including Ruknaddin, a predominantly Kurdish-inhabited district of Damascus, demanded the overthrow of the regime.

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KURDWATCH, June 12, 2011—Following a dissident demonstration in ʿAfrin, members of the Military Intelligence Service arrested ʿAziz Khalusi Jaʿfar (b. 1992, student), ʿAziz Ibsh (student), Mahmud Ibrahim Khalil (married, one child), Muhammad Bahjat Bari (married, three children), Alan Yusiv (student), Luqman Brimko (married, two children), Sirwan Muslim, Fayiq Yusiv (student), and Nechirvan Yusiv on May 13, 2011. After members of the Military Intelligence Service and the ʿAfrin police interrogated them, they were transferred to Aleppo, where they spent four days in the police’s holding prison. During interrogations there, they were tortured by members of the police. Both the Dulab method, in which the person in question is forced into a tire and beaten, and the Falaqa method (bastinado), in which the soles of the feet are beaten, were used. The prisoners were also kicked and punched. Subsequently, they were handed over to the prosecution and from there they were transferred to the civil Musalmiya prison. One day later they were transferred to the prosecution in ʿAfrin, and from there brought to the ʿAfrin criminal court. Following another interrogation, the criminal court judge released them from custody. Charges were filed against them for participating in an unauthorized demonstration. The first hearing is scheduled for June 16, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, June 11, 2011—After much hesitation, the parties of the Kurdish Patriotic Movement in Syria, which is an association of the nine parties of the Political Council, the two parties of the Democratic Alliance, and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), decided not to meet with President Bashar al-Assad at this time. In a statement issued on June 8, 2011, the parties wrote that they would have agreed to »an initiative for a meeting with the president that aimed at developing a political solution to the country’s current crisis«, but not under the current political conditions.
This decision by the political leadership was due in large part to pressure from the Kurdish population in Syria and in the Diaspora, including party members. After initially agreeing to the meeting with Bashar al-Assad, the Kurdish parties were intensely criticized from all sides. The Governor of al-Hasakah province invited the parties to travel to Damascus on short notice on June 4, 2011 for a meeting with the president. Originally they were to take part in talks in two groups, and the government had also invited fifteen other Kurdish public figures. The Kurdish parties, however, made their participation contingent on having the representatives of all parties, and only these representatives, meet together with al-Assad. The Governor of al-Hasakah province accepted this request.
When the parties of the Kurdish Patriotic Movement in Syria met on June 3, 2011, they decided to accept the invitation from Damascus. The Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) was the only party that wanted to discuss the situation with its party board before agreeing to a meeting. The Kurdish Patriotic Movement then told the government that the meeting would have to be postponed a few days.
The Kurdish Future Movement in Syria did not participate in this meeting. In a statement on May 28, 2011, they stated that they were canceling their membership in the Kurdish Patriotic Movement as well as in the Kurdish Political Council in Syria because the other political parties had been too hesitant in supporting the dissident demonstrations.
On June 5, 2011, the speaker of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (Yekîtî) in Syria stated that his party would not take part in the meeting with Bashar al-Assad, »as long as the repression of peaceful demonstrations has not been stopped, the military has not been pulled out of the cities, the siege of the cities has not ended, and the right to demonstrate has not been guaranteed«. Moreover, the party speaker stated that the party did not want to have a dialogue with the Syrian regime without the approval of the allies in the national democratic Syrian Opposition.
Ultimately, the Kurdish Coordinating Committee, which is made up of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria, rejected the offer to participate in a dialogue with Bashar al-Assad. In a statement issued on June 7, the committee demanded a general dialogue with the entire Syrian opposition in the form of a national conference. Moreover, according to the three parties, before a dialogue can take place it must be ensured that Syria will have a new modern constitution in which »no party or ethnicity is discriminated against« and in which »the political and ethnic diversity [of Syria] is accepted«.

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KURDWATCH, June 10, 2011—During nighttime demonstrations on June 7, 2011 in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), several thousand people took to the streets with candles and demanded the end of Baath rule. They showed solidarity with the victims in other Syrian cities and protested against any dialogue with representatives of the Syrian regime. The demonstrations occurred in connection with Bashar al-Assad’s offer to speak with the Syrian-Kurdish parties. In ʿAmudah the demonstrators used slogans such as »Freedom for Syria, out with Bashar«.

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KURDWATCH, June 9, 2011—Activist Muhammad Safi Hammud (b. 1946, married, five children) was arrested at the al-Qamishli airport when he tried to fly to Damascus on June 6, 2011. Hammud is a member of the Human Rights Association in Syria (HRAS).

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KURDWATCH, June 8, 2011—On June 7, 2011, the investigative judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad, and Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa will be released from custody. The Yekîtî membersʼ case remains pending before the court. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 8, 2011—Members of the Syrian security forces arrested the political activists ʿAbdulmajid Tamr (b. 1970) and Mahmud ʿAsim al-Muhammad (b. 1983) in al-Qamishli on May 31, 2011. The reason for their arrest is their participation in dissident demonstrations in al-Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, June 7, 2011—On May 30, 2011, the political activist Ahmad ʿAbdullah Husayn (b. 1952, married, seven children) was arrested at the Nusaybin/al-Qamishli border crossing. He, his wife, and one daughter wanted to visit relatives in Turkey. Husain is a member of the Kurdish Equality Party in Syria (Wekhevî). It is suspected that the arrest occurred in connection with the Syrian opposition conference in the Turkish city of Antalya from June 1-3, 2011. In addition to Farhan Jamil ʿAbdulqadir and Ahmad Bakr ʿAli, Husayn is the third political activist from ʿAmudah prevented from entering Turkey before the conference.

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KURDWATCH, June 6, 2011—Nation-wide protests on June 3, 2011 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. As in previous weeks, the demonstrations in al Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî) were largely peaceful. In the Kurdish regions more than twenty thousand people took to the streets. The protestors demanded democracy, freedom and the overthrow of the regime. For the first time, three Kurdish parties, the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), and the Kurdish Freedom Movement in Syria, called on their members to take part in the demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, June 5, 2011—On June 1, 2011, the attorney and writer Mustafa Ismaʿil was released from prison in Aleppo due to Decree No. 61, dated May 31, 2011 (the amnesty decree). He had been sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment on November 7, 2010. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 5, 2011—On June 1, 2011, the judge on the Criminal Court of First Instance in al-Qamishli postponed the hearing in the case of Ahmad Bakr ʿAli. The hearing was rescheduled for June 12, 2011. According to Decree No. 61, dated May 31, 2011 (the amnesty decree) the judge actually should have released ʿAli. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 4, 2011—With Decree No. 61, dated May 31, 2011, President Bashar al-Assad granted amnesty to all those who were convicted of crimes prior to May 31, 2011. They will be released after serving half of their sentences. Moreover, all those convicted of violations punishable by up to one year or up to three years imprisonment will be released. Numerous political prisoners will also profit from the amnesty.
Furthermore the amnesty covers all those convicted on the basis of Statute No. 49 from the year 1980. This statute stipulates the death penalty for all members of the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. The new decree replaces the death penalty with life imprisonment or lifelong hard labor, depending on the offense.
In addition, all prisoners who had reached 70 years of age by May 31, 2011 will be released from prison. This also applies to those sentenced to life imprisonment, provided they committed the offense prior to their 60th birthday.

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KURDWATCH, June 3, 2011—On June 2, 2011, Mishʿal at-Tammu, speaker of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria, was released from custody in Damascus. At-Tammu was able to be released after the Decree No. 61 was issued on May 31, 2011 (the amnesty decree). He had been sentenced to three years in prison on May 11, 2009. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, June 1, 2011—Luqman Sulaiman, who was arrested by members of the Political Security Directorate in al-Qamishli on May 10, 2011, was presented to the investigative judge in al-Qamishli on May 31, 2011. Charges were brought against him pursuant to Articles 327, 335, and 374 of the Criminal Code. Sulaiman had been severely tortured by members of the Political Security Directorate in both Damascus and al-Qamishli. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2011—On May 29, 2011, the investigating judge in al-Qamishli interrogated Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad, and Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa concerning the charges raised against them. No new hearing date has been set. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2011—The first ajanib (registered stateless) have been naturalized in al-Malikiyah (Derik). To apply for naturalization, one must submit an individual extract from the register of foreigners, as well as three passport photos. Family members who have reached their fourteenth birthday must submit their application in person and pick up their identity card themselves at the civil registry office. All children listed in the family extract from the register of foreigners will also be listed in the family register, including those living abroad. However, these children can only receive their identity cards after appearing in person. An application for naturalization takes at least four weeks to process. The implementation of naturalization procedures in al-Malikiyah confirm the Interior Ministry’s claims that the naturalization of ajanib has begun.

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2011—Nation-wide protests on May 27, 2011 resulted in numerous dead and injured. As in previous weeks, the demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî) were largely peaceful. In the Kurdish regions more than twenty thousand people took to the streets. The protestors demanded democracy, freedom and the overthrow of the regime. One day before the demonstrations, Internet connections in most Kurdish cities were blocked.

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KURDWATCH, May 30, 2011—According to figures from the Interior Ministry, 1,007 Syrian identification cards have been issued for people who previously belonged to the group of registered stateless (ajanib). A total of 32,000 applications for naturalization have been submitted. As one application is submitted per family, the exact number of people seeking naturalization is unknown. Registered stateless (ajanib) who live outside of al-Hasakah province may submit their applications at their actual place of residence and do not need to travel to the place where they will be registered. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 29, 2011—On May 25, 2011, the political activist and poet Farhan Jamil ʿAbdulqadir (b. 1956, married, seven children) was arrested at the Nusaybin/al-Qamishli border crossing. He was planning to visit family members in Turkey. The circumstances of his arrest are as yet unknown.

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KURDWATCH, May 28, 2011—Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad, and Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa were transferred from Damascus to the prison in al-Qamishli on May 25, 2011. Following the abolishment of the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus, the case of the leading members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) now rests with the Court of Inquiry in al-Qamishli. The first hearing there will take place on May 29. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 27, 2011—The judge in the criminal court of first instance in al-Qamishli ruled on May 23, 2011 that the writer Ahmad Bakr ʿAli (born 1962, married, ten children), alias Arshak Baravi, shall be released from prison on bail. ʿAli was arrested on May 10, 2011 at the border crossing Nusaybin/al-Qamishli; he had wanted to participate in a writersʼ conference in Turkey. The background for the arrest was his participation in demonstrations in ʿAmudah which were critical of the regime. Three days after his detention, ʿAli was transferred to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus, where he was sworn at and beaten during his interrogation. Two days later he was transferred into ʿAdra Prison. He stayed there four days before he was brought to the prison in al-Hasakah. Two days later he was transferred to the prison in al-Qamishli. In the meantime the case against ʿAli was filed. The first hearing will take place on June 1, 2011 at the criminal court of first instance in al-Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, May 26, 2011—As numbers of injured and dead increased during protests in several Syrian cities across the country on May 20, 2011, demonstrations in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiya, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), ʿAfrin, and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) remained predominantly peaceful. More than 20,000 people are estimated to have taken part in street demonstrations. Slogans in al‑Qamishli were heard in Arabic, Kurdish and Aramaic, revealing the national character of the protests. The motto of the country-wide protests on May 20 had a similar goal: it was »Friday of freedom«, and the Arabic word for freedom was replaced by the Kurdish one, »azadî«.
After the demonstrations in al‑Qamishli on May 20, 2011 thirteen leading members of the Christian Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) were arrested by members of the criminal police there: Dr. Malak Yaʿqub (vice president of the politburo), Gabriel Romanos (member of the politburo), Karam Dawla (member of the politburo), Dr. Samir Ibrahim (member of the central committee), Barsom Yusuf, Gawrieh Shabo, Yaʿqub Gharibo, George Odisho, Hanna Ishaq, Ghandi Safar, Fahd Yusuf, Dawud Habib, and Hanna Sanharib. On the same day, ADO’s office was searched and computers and other files were confiscated. On May 21, 2011, the automobiles of those arrested were confiscated. The government was apparently reacting to the public solidarity between Kurds and Assyrians.
Already on May 18, 2011 smaller demonstrations had taken place in al‑Qamishli, with several hundred participants, and in ʿAfrin, with approximately one hundred fifty participants.

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KURDWATCH, May 25, 2011—After being released from prison, activists Anwar Naso, Marwan Husayn, and ʿAbdulmuhsin Mahmud Khalaf reported that they have been suspended from their duties until a court rules in their case. The bureaucrats were also informed that until the ruling they will not receive any more payments of their salaries [further information on the case]. The same sanctions had already been applied to Arab bureaucrats from al‑Qamishli, who had been arrested due to their participation in demonstrations critical of the regime and had been taken to court on these charges.

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KURDWATCH, May 25, 2011—The second military judge in Damascus has ruled in the case of Husam Husayn ʿAli that he will be referred to the criminal court of first instance. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 24, 2011—On May 22, 2011 the writer ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajj Ibrahim, alias Siyamand Ibrahim, was arrested by members of the Political Security Directorate in al‑Qamishli. Prior to his arrest, he received a telephone call requesting him to appear there. On the same day he was transferred to the Political Security Directorate in al‑Hasakah, where he was interrogated about his participation in various demonstrations which were critical of the regime. He was released one day later. He is obliged to appear again at the Political Security Directorate in al‑Hasakah on May 25, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, May 23, 2011—On May 16, 2011, the investigating judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Abdulilah ʿAbdulfatah ʿUji [further information on the case], Anwar Naso, Marwan Husayn, ʿAdnan Ahmad, alias Dilyare Khani, Faysal Qadiri [further information on the case], and ʿAbdulmuhsin Mahmud Khalaf will be released from custody. Khalaf had been arrested with Naso, Husayn, Ahmad and Qadiri on May 9, 2011 by the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli. Charges were brought against all of them pursuant to Article 307, 335, 336 and 337 of the Criminal Code.

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KURDWATCH, May 21, 2011—Members of the Political Security Directorate arrested Luqman Sulayman (b. 1962, married, four children) on May 10, 2011 in al-Qamishli. Prior to this they had made several inquiries about him. Three hours after his arrest, his apartment was searched and his computer confiscated. Suleiman’s family does not know where he is currently being held. It is assumed that the reason for his arrest was his participation in dissident demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, May 20, 2011—On May 17, 2011, the Appellate Court in Damascus ruled that leading members of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî)—Mustafa Dschumʿa Bakir, Muhammad Saʿid Husayn al-ʿUmar and Saʿdun Mahmud Shaykhu—will be released from prison early. The Appellate Court thus confirmed the verdict by the Second Criminal Court in Damascus, which the prosecution had appealed. The Second Criminal Court in Damascus originally sentenced the Azadî members to three years imprisonment on November 15, 2009. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 19, 2011—On May 14, 2011, the parties of the Kurdish Patriotic Movement in Syria, which is an association composed of the nine parties of the Political Council, the two parties of the Democratic Alliance, and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), publicly presented their demands in al-Qamishli for the first time since the beginning of the revolution:

1. An end to the violence against demonstrators and the authorization of peaceful demonstrations;
2. Carrying out the decree to end the state of emergency; the abolishment of all special courts and laws; the release of all political prisoners;
3. Authorization of the operation of all political parties and movements;
4. An end to all racist measures and the abolishment of all secret decrees against the Kurds; the speedy repatriation of stateless people (ajanib); the entry of unregistered stateless people (maktumin) as Syrian citizens in the civil registers; an end to the neglect of the Kurdish regions and equal treatment with other regions;
5. The organization of a national conference that does not exclude any group. The primary task should be the development of a new constitution, which will be then be put to a vote by the Syrian people; freedom of the press;
6. The guarantee of a separation of powers;
7. The implementation of a just and democratic solution to the Kurdish question by recognizing in the constitution that the Kurds are an integral part of the Syrian people and by guaranteeing their national rights;
8. The protection and guarantee of the cultural rights of ethnic and religious minorities in Syria.

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KURDWATCH, May 19, 2011—On May 15, 2011, the second single military judge in Damascus postponed the hearing against Husam Husayn ʿAli until May 22. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 19, 2011—With Circular Letter No. 2978, dated May 5, 2011, the Governor of al-Hasakah, Major General Muʿthi Najib Saloum, called on all provincial authorities to order their employees not to take part in demonstrations either during or after working hours. The names of people who disobey this order are to be passed on so that legal action can be taken against them.

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KURDWATCH, May 19, 2011—Approximately twenty thousand people protested for more freedom and democracy in Syria on May 13, 2011. Protests took place in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, Raʾs al ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAyn al ʿArab (Kobanî). In comparison to last Friday, fewer people took to the streets. The reasons for this were presumably the arrests of several activists prior to the demonstrations and the charges that were later brought against them. For the first time, a dissident demonstration was also attempted in ʿAfrin. It was impeded by security forces, and a total of sixteen people are said to have been arrested.

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KURDWATCH, May 16, 2011—On May 12, 2011, three demonstrators, Abdussamad ʿUmar, Saʿid Muhammad Muhammad and Matin Ahmad Murad, were released from custody on bail. Charges were filed pursuant to Article 335 of the Criminal Code. [More information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 16, 2011—Muhammad Amin Hasan Husayn (b. 1981), a student of French literature at the University of Damascus, was arrested on May 9, 2011. He had taken part in a dissident demonstration in Damascus. Presently, Husayn's whereabouts remain unclear.

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KURDWATCH, May 14, 2011—The Air Force Intelligence Service arrested ʿAbdulilah ʿAbdulfatah ʿUji on May 11, 2011. Prior to his arrest, he had been summoned by telephone to report to the aforementioned security service. The reason for Uji's arrest was his participation in the dissident demonstration on May 6, 2011 in ʿAmudah. ʿUji had already been arrested by members of the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli on April 30, 2011 and was released from custody on May 2, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 14, 2011—The Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli arrested the political activists Anwar Naso (b. 1962, married, four children), Marwan Husayn (b. 1968, married, four children), ʿAdnan Ahmad, alias Dilyarê Xanî (b. 1966, married, four children), and Faisal Qadiri (b. 1968, married, two children) on May 9, 2011. The reason for their arrest was their participation in the dissident demonstration on May 6 in ʿAmudah. Prior to their arrest, the activists had been summoned to report to the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, May 14, 2011—The Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli released ʿAbdulkarim Sabri ʿUmar (b. 1961, married, three children) from custody on May 10, 2011. ʿUmar, an administrator for the General Council of the Kurdish Democratic Alliance in Syria, as well as a member of the Damascus Declaration, had been arrested for participating in a dissident demonstration in al-Qamishli on May 6, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, May 13, 2011—On May 10, 2011, the first investigating judge in Damascus ruled that the student, journalist, and human rights activist Kamal Husayn Shaykhu is be released on bail. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 12, 2011—On May 8, 2011, the second single military judge in Damascus postponed the hearing against Husam Husayn ʿAli (b. 1976, married, four children) until May 15, 2011. Charges were brought against ʿAli, a member of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. Members of the Military Intelligence Service arrested Husam Husayn ʿAli on December 3, 2008 in Damascus. He was released on April 22, 2009. During his detention, he was held for 55 days in the Faraʿ Falastin remand prison, a division of the Military Intelligence Service in Damascus, where he was tortured. For 34 days, ʿAli was forced to stand in his cell handcuffed and blindfolded from six in the morning until midnight. During interrogations, he was beaten with bare hands and with cables.

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KURDWATCH, May 12, 2011—Several participants in the recent demonstrations were released from custody in al Malikiyah (Dêrik) on May 9, 2011: Sipan Azad Ismaʿil, Rashid Nuraddin Ahmad Maʿsum, and Dalil Muhammad Ibrahim (married, one child). Barzan Sabri Khalil, Jotiyar Saifuddin Jamil, Idris Muhammad ʿAdil, and Jwan Hamid Mala Mirza had already been released on May 5, 2011. All those named above were arrested after their participation in a dissident demonstration on May 3, 2011 in al-Malikiyah. Charges were brought against them pursuant to Article 335 of the Criminal Code. The first hearing before the Criminal Court will take place on May 25, 2011 in al-Malikiyah.

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KURDWATCH, May 11, 2011—The human rights activist Akram Ahmad Husayn (b. 1964, married, four children) was released from custody May 8, 2011. Husayn, a member of the Kurdish Committee for Human Rights in Syria (ar-Rasid), was arrested one day earlier by members of the Military Intelligence Service in al-Qamishli. He was accused of having spoken on the phone with an Arab television station about the dissident demonstration in al-Qamishli on May 6, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, May 7, 2011—The trials of Nawaf Hasan Rashid and ʿAbdulhakim Shukri Husayn were postponed until May 19 by the criminal court judge of first instance in al-Qamishli. Prior to the judge’s decision on May 5, the two members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) were questioned about the charges filed against them. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 7, 2011—Nation-wide protests on May 6, 2011 resulted in numerous dead and injured in several Syrian cities, although demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah and Darbasiyah were largely peaceful. In the Kurdish regions, a total of more than thirty thousand people took to the streets, a considerable increase compared with protests last Friday. Security forces observed the peaceful demonstrations, but did not intervene.

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KURDWATCH, May 4, 2011—ʿAbdulilah ʿAbdulfatah ʿUji and Kandal Parwiz Muhammad ʿAli were released from custody in al-Qamishli on May 2, 2011. As a condition of their release, they had to confirm in writing that they would not take part in any more dissident demonstrations. One day later, Shaykh ʿAbdulqadir Muhammad Maʿsum Khaznawi was also released from custody in al-Qamishli and also was made to confirm in writing that he would not take part in future dissident demonstrations. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 4, 2011—On the evening of May 3, 2011 several thousand Kurds lit candles in al-Qamishli and ʿAmudah to protest the siege of the city of Darʿa and the arrest of demonstrators across Syria.

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KURDWATCH, May 3, 2011—Members of the Military Intelligence Service arrested several political activists in ʿAmudah and al-Qamishli on April 30, 2011. Shaykh ʿAbdulqadir Muhammad Maʿsum Khaznawi (b. 1948, married, 12 children), Shaykh ʿAbdulsamad ʿUmar (b. 1962, married, 6 children), and Saʿid Muhammad Muhammad were arrested in al-Qamishli because they demonstrated there on April 29. ʿAbdulilah ʿAbulfatah ʿUci (b. 1959, married, 6 children), and Kandal Parwiz Muhammad ʿAli (b. 1992) were arrested in ʿAmudah because they demonstrated there on April 29.

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KURDWATCH, May 2, 2011—As reported by KurdWatch, President Bashar al‑Assad amended Statute 41 from 2004 with Decree 43 on March 26, 2011. The new decree makes a de facto amendment to Decree 49 of September 10, 2008 [see »Decree 49: Dispossession of the Kurdish population?«]. Among other things, Decree 49 had determined that changes to ownership of land in border regions and the long-term lease of such land required authorization. This was true regardless of whether or not the land was developed and whether or not it was located within an area covered by a land utilization plan. With Decree 43 coming into effect, authorization is no longer necessary for the transfer of land that lies within an area covered by a land utilization plan. However, the transfer of land used for agricultural purposes in principle still requires authorization; but effective immediately, the transfer from parents to their children or grandchildren is possible without authorization. In contrast, siblings still need permission for a transfer of this kind of ownership. Decree 43 further simplifies the process by making provincial authorities responsible for granting authorization; the decision no longer rests with Damascus. The recent amendments have led to a construction boom in al‑Hasakah province, which is categorized as border region.

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KURDWATCH, May 1, 2011—On April 26, 2011, Nawaf Hasan Rashid (b. 1959, seven children) and ʿAbdulhakim Shukri Husayn (b. 1973), members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), were released from custody. The two activists were arrested on April 23, 2011 by the State Security Service in al-Qamishli. The next day they were transferred to the criminal police authorities in al-Hasakah, where they were beated and tortured for their participation in the dissident demonstration on April 22 in al-Qamishli. They were called traitors and tortured with blows to the face and other body parts. Subsequently, they were presented to the criminal court judge in the first instance in al-Qamishli. Based on the new right to demonstrate, Nawaf Hasan Rashid and ʿAbdulhakim Shukri Husayn were charged with participating in an unauthorized demonstration and with membership in an illegal association. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, May 1, 2011—While nationwide protests again led to numerous dead and injured in several Syrian cities, the demonstrations in al Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and Darbasiyah remained peaceful this Friday. Security forces observed the demonstrations, but did not intervene. In the Kurdish regions a total of around thirty thousand people took to the streets. Along with showing solidarity with the demonstration stronghold in Darʿa, the demonstrators' demands included the following: »No to Islamism and confessionalism«; »Yes to a democratic state«, »Yes to political and ethnic diversity«, »No life without native language«; »We want lifelong freedom, not a president for life«; »The regime demands the overthrow of the people«; »The people demand the overthrow of the regime«; and»Freedom for all political prisoners«.

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KURDWATCH, April 28, 2011—After being deported on April 13, 2011, Khalid Hamid Hamid was held for one week at the Faraʿ Falastin prison of the Military Intelligence Service in Damascus. There he was interrogated about his political activities in exile and about other Syrians living in Germany. He was tortured with a method known as al-kursi al-almani (»German chair«), in which the victim is bound to a chair that bends the spine backwards. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 27, 2011—Following the dissident demonstration on April 22, 2011, Syrian security authorities arrested and interrogated numerous activists in the Kurdish regions. Nawaf Hasan Rashid, a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) who was arrested by members of the State Security Service on April 23, remains in prison. All other activists from al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) who were arrested between April 23 and 25 were released from custody within a few hours. Prior to their release, they had to confirm in writing that they would not take part in any more dissident demonstrations. Otherwise, as one activist told KurdWatch, they would be charged with membership in an Islamist organization or with causing unrest under order of a foreign government.

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KURDWATCH, April 26, 2011—The German citizen Ismaʿil ʿAbdi, who was arrested in Aleppo on August 23, 2010 and subsequently released from the ʿAdra prison near Damascus on March 30, 2011, was sentenced by the sixth single military judge in Damascus on April 18. He was sentenced to seven months and seven days imprisonment pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. The prison sentence is thus equal to the length of time spent in pretrial custody. The time served will be applied toward the sentence. ʿAbdi told KurdWatch that despite this, he is not allowed to leave the country; the State Security Service in al-Qamishli has imposed a travel ban upon him. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 24, 2011—President Bashar al-Assad has lifted the state of emergency that had been in effect since March 8, 1963 with Decree No. 161. The decree is dated April 21, 2011. At the same time, al-Assad issued Decree No. 53 on April 21, 2011, which dissolved the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus. All cases still pending before this court will be referred to other courts. Finally, Presidential Decree No. 54 of April 21, 2011, reformed the right to demonstrate.
KurdWatch will release the aforementioned decrees shortly.

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KURDWATCH, April 24, 2011—Nation-wide protests on April 22, 2011 resulted in numerous dead and injured in several Syrian cities, although demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) were largely peaceful. In the Kurdish regions, a total of around twenty thousand people took to the streets, a considerable increase compared with protests last Friday. Security forces observed the peaceful demonstrations, but did not intervene. In contrast, young people who wanted to protest in al-Hasakah were attacked by security forces and dispersed. Following the demonstration in ʿAmudah, members of the State Security Service summoned several members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) to appear. The Yekîtî members complied with the summons, but after they had waited an hour, they were sent home without being interrogated.

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KURDWATCH, April 22, 2011—On April 7, 2011, six more people arrested in connection with the Newroz festival organized by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in ar-Raqqa were released from prison. Following their arrest on March 21, 2010, Kaniwar Sabri Nabi, Muhammad Mustafa Shaykh Muhammad, Muhammad Muslim Musa, Ahmad Juman, Muhammad ʿAli Baqi and Muhammad Mahmud Muslim were tortured at the ar-Raqqa prison; Kaniwar Sabri Nabi and Muhammad Muslim Musa were tortured immediately after they were operated on due to bullet wounds. The detainees were then transferred from ar-Raqqa to Damascus, where they remained until their release. Approximately one hundred people were allegedly arrested in connection with the 2010 Newroz festival in ar-Raqqa. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 21, 2011—With the circular letter No. 639 of March 31, 2011, the Interior Ministry simplified numerous administrative procedures. Effective immediately, permission from the intelligence service is no longer required for several procedures, including the following:
a) the registration of marriages between Syrian citizens and foreigners and between male Syrian citizens and female maktumin;
b) the registration of children of unions between male Syrian citizens and female maktumin;
c) the registration of children of Syrian citizens whose birth occurred more than a month before the time of registration;
d) the reissue of identification certificates and individual and family extracts from the register in the case of the loss or destruction of the originals, the first issuance of such documents for ajanib in al-Hasakah province, as well as the entry of ajanib in the register of foreigners at the civil registry offices in al-Hasakah province;
e) the reissue of identification cards in the case of the loss or destruction of the originals, as well as the first issuance of identification cards for everyone who has reached their fifteenth birthday or has been naturalized, as well as the reissuance of identification cards that have become invalid;
f) the issuance of passports for Syrian citizens living abroad in the case of the loss or destruction of the originals;
g) entry into Iraq.

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KURDWATCH, April 21, 2011—On April 6, 2011, the second military investigating judge in Aleppo ruled that 48 people would be released from prison in ar-Raqqa. Those released were arrested between April 9 and 30, 2010 in connection with the Kurdish New Year’s festival organized by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and held on March 21 of the same year in the city of ar-Raqqa. The day before their release, the prisoners had threatened to strike in solidarity with the demonstrators currently organizing dissident protests in various Syrian cities. The prison administration subsequently offered to release them within 24 hours if they abandoned the strike.
Those released from prison are: Hajji Hosho Ahmad, Muhammad ʿAli Dawud, Hamid Bozan Bozan, Muhammad Hosh Shaykh ʿAli, Muhyiddin Muslim Bozan, Salih Muhammad ʿUthman, Khalil Khashman Shaykh Muhammad, Jarrah Dawud Shaykhu, Qawwas ʿAli Muslim, ʿAdil Khalil Bozan, Hasan Ahmad Habash, Ayyub Khalil Khalil, Riyad Ibrahim Khalil Sijar, ʿAbdulqadir ʿAli Shaʿban, Hasan ʿAbdi Muhammad, Mustafa Ibrahim Ibo, Maʿsum Mustafa ʿIsa, Muhammad ʿAli Ahmad Husayn, Mazlum Muhammad ʿUthman, Iskandar Muhammad ʿIsa, Mustafa Ahmad Husayn, Jamʿan Muhammad ʿIsa, Ahmad Misho ʿAli, Mustafa Muhammad Yasin, Sabri Muhammad Nabi, Ibrahim Qawwas Muslim, Ibrahim ʿAbid Husayn, Ramadan Muhammad Amin, ʿAdnan Ramadan Amin, Mustafa ʿAli Naʿsan, ʿAbdulqadir Mahmud Shaykh ʿUthman, Muhammad ʿAttallah ʿIsa, ʿAli Nabo Mustafa, Saʿdi Ibrahim Ibo, Luqman Mustafa Naʿsan, Muhammad Hammud Muslim, Ibrahim Mamt Mahmud, Ahmad Shaykhu ʿAto Miho, Nazmi Muhammad Muhammad, Ramadan Bozan Bozan, ʿAbdulkarim ʿAliz Mustafa, Abu Zir Abu Zir Muslim, Badrkhan ʿAli Deriki, Muhammad Hajji Ahmad, Taha Hasan Muslim, Khalil ʿUthman Shaykhu, ʿIzzuddin al-ʿAbbud, and ʿAbdulfatah Ahmad Tamir. Another prisoner, Mustafa Yasin, had already been released from prison ten days earlier for health reasons. Charges had been raised against those named above pursuant to Articles 339 and 307 of the Criminal Code, among other articles. Currently it is unclear whether the charges will be dropped or whether the cases are still pending before the court. The Political Security Directorate, the State Security Service, and the Air Force Intelligence Service were involved in the arrests in April 2010. Following interrogations by the Air Force Intelligence Service in ar-Raqqa, Dair az-Zaur and Aleppo the individuals in question were held at the Air Force Intelligence Service’s prison at the Mazza airport for 26 days. Three days of interrogations at the Political Security Directorate followed before the prisoners were transferred to the ʿAdra prison near Damascus. For the first three months they were interrogated by one member each of the Political Security Directorate, the State Security Service, the Air Force Intelligence Service and the Military Intelligence Service. Each time the prisoners were transported to the Political Security Directorate's al-Faihaʾ remand prison for the interrogations. After roughly six months, they were transferred from Damascus to Aleppo and from there on to ar-Raqqa.
One of the people in question reported to KurdWatch that all of the prisoners were tortured. The methods applied included the Dulab method, in which the person concerned is forced into a tire and beaten, and the Falaqa method (Bastinado), in which the soles of the feet are beaten. In addition, the detainees received kicks and punches to all parts of their bodies. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 17, 2011—In nation-wide protests on April 15, 2011, participants again demanded freedom and democracy, some calling for the fall of the regime. All of the protests, including those in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), were largely peaceful. In the Kurdish regions a total of around ten thousand people took to the streets. In ʿAmudah, representatives of the Kurdish parties asked their supporters not to take part in the protests.
Eleven Kurdish parties, the nine parties of the Political Council, the two parties of the Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), had met in al-Qamishli the day before. In a joint statement, the parties declared the demonstrations in Syria to be legitimate, but did not themselves call for such protests. A representative of the Future Movement told Kurdwatch that during the session his party had pushed for the Kurdish parties to give up their wait-and-see attitude and mobilize for demonstrations, but the suggestion was rejected. During the demonstrations, a representative of the Future Movement allegedly received a phone call from the Political Security Directorate in Damascus. He was told that the Intelligence Service was aware that the Future Movement had supported the demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, April 14, 2011—Following his deportation to Syria on April 13, 2011, Khalid Hamid Hamid (b. 1970) was arrested at the Damascus Airport. Hamid had been detained on April 12, 2011 in Lebach (Saarland), when he tried to extend a suspension of his deportation at the local immigration authority. The Kurdish refugee had filed a petition for asylum in Germany nine years ago.

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KURDWATCH, April 14, 2011—Muhammad ʿAbdi Saʿdun was released from prison in al-Qamishli on April 9, 2011. Following his arrest on May 20, 2010, Saʿdun, a teacher and member of the politburo for the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), was initially held in solitary confinement for three days at the State Security Service's remand prison in al-Qamishli. He subsequently spent sixteen days at the State Security Service's remand prison in Damascus and eleven days in the Political Security Directorate’s remand prison in Damascus. Eleven of those twenty-seven days were spent in solitary confinement. Saʿdun was then transferred to Aleppo and from there to al-Qamishli. On September 30, 2010, the single military judge there sentenced him to one year in prison pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. Due to this conviction, he may no longer practice his profession as a teacher. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 12, 2011—On March 28, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli ruled that Muhammad Nuri Abu Bakir (b. 1953, married, seven children), Hasan Mahmud Tahir Issa (b. 1960) and ʿAbdi Ahmad Hamo (b. 1944) were to be released from custody. The release of Ahmad Muhammad Amin Ibrahim (b. 1970) followed on March 29, 2011. Members of the Political Security Directorate had arrested the four Democratic Union Party (PYD) sympathizers following their participation in a PYD demonstration on December 15, 2010 in al-Qamishli. During their interrogation at the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah, they were tortured with blows to the soles of their feet. Charges were raised pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Court. The cases are pending before the court.

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KURDWATCH, April 12, 2011—Students ʿAbdurrahim Fawaz Tami and Anwar Murad were released from custody on bail on April 5, 2011. After being arrested by members of the State Security Service on March 12, 2011, they were brought to the State Security Service’s pre-trial prison in Damascus. During the interrogation there, they were tortured by being forced into a tire and beaten (so-called Dulab method). Charges have been raised against Tami and Murad pursuant to Articles 285 and 286 of the Criminal Code. Their case is pending before the court. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 10, 2011—While nationwide protests on April 8, 2011, again resulted in numerous deaths and injured, demonstrations in al Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Darbasiyah, al-Malikiyah (Dêrik), and Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) were largely peaceful. In Kurdish regions a total of approximately ten thousand people took to the streets. The protesters showed solidarity with protesters in Darʿa and other cities by displaying only Syrian flags. Security forces observed the peaceful protests, but did not intervene.

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KURDWATCH, April 8, 2011—President Bashar al-Assad paved the way for registered stateless people (ajanib) to receive Syrian-Arab citizenship when he signed Decree No. 49 on April 7, 2011. Unregistered stateless people (maktumin) are not included in the decree. It now falls to the Interior Ministry to publish the provisions for the implementation of the decree. Decree No. 49 will take effect once it has been published in the official register. For more on the problem of stateless Kurds in Syria, see the KurdWatch report »Stateless Kurds in Syria – Illegal invaders or victims of a nationalistic policy?«.

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KURDWATCH, April 7, 2011—On April 5, 2011, President Bashar al‑Assad received a delegation from al‑Hasakah province. The participants, including 15 Kurds, 14 Arabs and one Christian, spoke with al‑Assad for over two hours and gave him a list with a total of 37 demands. One of the members of the delegation told KURDWATCH that the demands included an investigation into the events of March 2004, the naturalization of all stateless Kurds (ajanib and maktumin), the repeal of Decree 49, the release of all political prisoners, and economic aid to al‑Hasakah province. The delegation was composed of representatives of Kurdish and Arab tribes and other personalities. All of them were chosen by the Syrian government. Moreover, five representatives of various Kurdish parties were said to have been invited to the meeting, but they declined the invitation as they are calling for a political dialogue between Syrian leadership and the Syrian-Kurdish parties. On April 4, 2011 the members of the delegation were flown from al‑Qamishli to Damascus by special aircraft. Before they met with the president, they were received by the assistant regional secretary of the Baʿth party, Muhammad Saʿid Bakhtian.

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KURDWATCH, April 6, 2011—On April 4, 2011, the sixth single military judge in Damascus postponed the hearing against Ismaʿil Muhammad ʿAbdi until April 18, 2011. ʿAbdi has been charged pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. Additional charges were dropped. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 5, 2011—On April 3, 2011, the bar association’s Court of Professional Conduct acquitted the attorney and human rights activist Radif Anwar Mustafa of all charges raised against him. Mustafa was, however, admonished for violations of the bar association’s by-laws. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 4, 2011—During nationwide protests on April 1, 2011, there were once again deaths in Damascus. In contrast, the demonstrations in al-Qamishli, ʿAmudah, al-Hasakah, and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) were largely peaceful. In al-Hasakah, security forces are said to have driven protesters apart and shot into the air, while temporary arrests were made in al-Hasakah and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. The protesters in the primarily Kurdish regions displayed their solidarity with protesters in Darʿa and Latakia by displaying only Syrian flags.

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KURDWATCH, April 3, 2011—On March 25, 2011, four members of the Kurdish Union Party (Yekîtî), Nazmi ʿAbdurrahman Muhammad, Ahmad Khalil Darwish, Yasha Khalid Qadir, and Dilgash Shamo Mamo, were released from the Saydnaya prison ten months ahead of schedule. Tahsin Khairi Mamo, who was arrested with them, remains »disappeared«. At this point it is assumed that he is no longer alive [further information on the case]. Salih ʿAbdu and Husayn Hamid Muhammad, both members of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), were also released. ʿAbdu and Muhammad were arrested on August 19, 2007 and the Supreme State Security Court later sentenced them to four years imprisonment each. They served a total of three quarters of their sentence. The release of the above-named individuals occurred in connection with an amnesty declared by Bashar al-Assad for some political prisoners. More Kurds are believed to be among those released. KurdWatch is currently investigating their identities.

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KURDWATCH, April 2, 2011—On March 30, 2011, the first investigating judge in Damascus ruled that Nasruddin Ahmi and six other recently arrested persons will be released from custody against a bond of 7000 Syrian liras each. Ahmi, whose case is still pending before the court, has been charged pursuant to Articles 285 and 286 of the Criminal Code. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, April 2, 2011—On March 31, 2011, President Bashar al-Assad ordered the founding of a commission to investigate the implementation of resolutions made at the tenth Baʿth party congress regarding the 1962 census in al-Hasakah province. As a result of the census, roughly 120,000 Kurds lost their Syrian citizenship and with it their basic civil rights. As their descendants are also stateless, the number of those affected has grown continuously in the intervening years. [See »Stateless Kurds in Syria – Illegal invaders or victims of a nationalistic policy?«]
In June 2005, the tenth Baʿth party congress resolved to reexamine this topic and find a solution for the stateless Kurds. In his inaugural speech on July 17, 2007, Bashar al-Assad suggested that a speedy solution to the problem was in sight. At that time he stated that the technical preparations for such a law were nearly finished. The commission that has just been appointed is to present its results to the president by April 15, 2011, and a bill will allegedly be established on the basis of these results.

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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2011—On March 30, 2011, the German citizen Ismaʿil Muhammad ʿAbdi was released from the Adra prison in Damascus. His trial at the military court in Damascus will begin on April 4. ʿAbdi, who was arrested while visiting family in Syria in August 2010, recently took part in a hunger strike organized by political prisoners. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 30, 2011—On March 29, 2011, pro-Assad demonstrations organized by the regime took place in al-Hasakah and other Syrian cities. Pupils, students, and federal employees were forced to take part in these demonstrations. They had to carry the Syrian flag and pictures of the president Bashar al-Assad and celebrate them with predetermined slogans. There have been similar demonstrations in recent days in al-Qamishli and elsewhere. At these demonstrations regime supporters have purposely intimidated the population by displaying weapons and shooting into the air. More dissident demonstrations are planned for all of Syria on April 1, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, March 30, 2011—On March 25, 2011 Diyar ʿAli ʿAli, Muhammad ʿAli ʿAli, Sherzad ʿAdnan, and ʿAbdullah Hashim Benav were released from custody. After their arrest on March 17, members of the State Security Service brought the minors to al-Hasakah by, where they were tortured with blows to the face. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2011—After days of protests at which security forces are said to have killed up to 100 people, the Baʿth regime has announced some reforms. One is that Statute No. 41, last amended by Decree 49, has been changed again. The changes in question involve a liberalizing of the law. KurdWatch will release details shortly. The population of al-Hasakah province, which is predominantly Kurdish, has suffered particularly under the consequences of Decree 49 [see »Decree 49 – Dispossession of the Kurdish population?«].
Meanwhile, the state of emergency in Syria continues. Until now, only the Baʿth party leadership has resolved to lift it. According to information from various Arab news networks, an anti-terror law is set to take effect at the same time as the end of the state of emergency. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the liberalizations that could occur through the lifting of the state of emergency will then be nullified by the passage of the anti-terror law.

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2011—On March 27, 2011, the first investigating judge in Damascus decided that Fahima Salih Usi, alias Harvin Usi, and ʿAbdurrazzaq Tammu, as well as 15 others arrested over the course of the recent protests would be released from custody against a bond of 5000 Syrian liras each. Charges pursuant to Articles 285 and 286 have been raised against Usi und Tammu. Their case is pending before the court. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2011—On February 8, 2011, the refugee Annas Abdullah (b. 1982, married, one child) was deported from Denmark to Syria via Vienna. Although Denmark had been assured that Abdullah would be repatriated, he was informed at the Damascus Airport that he could not enter the country because he was not a Syrian citizen. He was told either to leave the country or he would be detained until his identity was verified. The three Danish officials accompanying him consulted the Danish embassy and were told to fly back to Copenhagen with Abdullah that same day. At this moment an intelligence service employee recognized Abdullah. The employee had seen a segment by the PKK station Roj-TV in which Abdullah had appeared as a spokesman for those on hunger strike in September 2010. At that time Kurdish refugees living in Denmark had protested against their pending deportations to Syria. The intelligence service employee took Abdullah to his office and accused him of spreading false information about Syria abroad. Abdullah denied this and claimed that he had been mistaken for someone else; after all, it had just been determined that he was not a Syrian citizen. According to Abdullah’s statement to KurdWatch, he was then severely beaten on his back with cables and was forced to sign a paper stating that he would not try to enter Syria again. He was eventually released and flew back to Copenhagen the same day with the Danish officials. After arriving in Denmark, Abdullah informed the Danish police about the torture he had suffered. The torture was substantiated by commensurate marks on his back.

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KURDWATCH, March 28, 2011—On March 24, 2011, Muhammad Mubarak Ahmad Ibrahim and Jiwan Nazir Muhammad were released from pre-trial custody. They had been arrested by the military intelligence service in Damascus on March 22, 2011. Jiwan Nazir Muhammad was tortured with a method known as al-kursi al-almani (»German chair«), in which the victim is seated on a chair with moveable parts that bend the spine backwards. In addition, he and Muhammad Mubarak Ahmad Ibrahim were beaten with cables all over their bodies. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 27, 2011—On March 17, 2011, the teenagers Diyar ʿAli ʿAli (b. 1996), Muhammad ʿAli ʿAli (b. 1994), Sherzad ʿAdnan (b. 1993), and ʿAbdulla Hashim Benav (b. 1996) were arrested in the city of al Malikiya (Dêrik). They are suspected of spray painting walls with dissident slogans.

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KURDWATCH, March 24, 2011—On March 22, 2011, Muhammad Mubarak Ahmad Ibrahim (b. 1977, student of Arabic literature) and Dschiwan Muhammad (b. 1981, law student) were arrested while protesting with others in front of a court in Damascus. They were protesting against the imprisonment of Syrian human rights activists. Currently, both the whereabouts of the two students and which intelligence service was responsible for their arrest remain unknown.

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KURDWATCH, March 24, 2011—On March 21, 2011, the Kurdish New Year’s festival Newroz was celebrated in Damascus and Aleppo, as well as in numerous cities in al-Hasakah province. The celebrations included the showing of Kurdish flags, performances of theater and folkdances, and political speeches. Whereas celebrations in previous years led to arrests and skirmishes, sometimes with deaths, this year the security forces kept their distance from the festival-goers. In the evening, some of the celebrants in al-Qamishli marched through the city demanding »freedom«. The action was spontaneous and did not stem from the Kurdish political parties. The majority of these parties seem to not want to be involved in demonstrations that are critical of the regime. A leading member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) confirmed to KurdWatch that members of Yekîtî and other Kurdish parties dispersed a gathering of Kurdish youth planning a demonstration against the regime in ʿAmudah the day before.

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KURDWATCH, March 22, 2011—On March 19, 2011 the human rights activisit Fahima Salih Usi, alias Harvin Usi, was admitted to a hospital in Damascus. Usi began a hunger strike following her arrest and subsequent torture. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2011—The single military judge in Aleppo released pupil ʿAgid ʿInad Khalaf from custody March 7, 2011. Khalaf and three other pupils were arrested on March 12, 2010 in connection with a minute of silence for the victims of the unrest in al-Qamishli. While one of the pupils was released shortly after the arrests, two others, Mihyaddin Muhammad Ahmad and Muhamad Fawaz Khalaf, remain in custody in Aleppo. They and ʿAgid ʿInad Khalaf are accused of criminal offenses pursuant to Article 307.
Following their arrest, ʿAgid ʿInad Khalaf, Mihyaddin Muhammad Ahmad and Muhamad Fawaz Khalaf were initially held in the Political Security Directorate’s al Faihaʾ pre-trial prison in Damascus for nine months. They were subsequently transferred to Aleppo. Agid Inad Khalaf’s father, Inad Khalaf (b. 1960, nine children, math teacher), was arrested on June 22, 2010 in connection with his son’s arrest. After three and a half months in custody at the Political Security Directorate’s al Faihaʾ pre-trial prison in Damascus, he was also transferred to Aleppo. The single military judge there released him from custody on October 3, 2010. No charges were brought. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 18, 2011—Members of the Political Security Directorate arrested the political activist ʿAdil Khalil Jumʿah (b. 1956, married, 11 children) on February 27, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, March 18, 2011—On February 13, 2011, the military prosecution in Aleppo interrogated Mustafa Muhammad Bozan (b. 1983, married, one child), Ismaʿil Muhammad Haji al-Karʿu (b. 1982, married), Muhammad Hiso Sadiq (b. 1975, married), Bakri Muhammad Walo (b. 1983, married), Muhammad Karʿu Khalil (b. 1979, married), Hanifi ʿUthman Hanifi (b. 1962, married) and Mahmud Muhammad Nabo (b. 1970). Charges were subsequently filed pursuant to Article 267 of the Criminal Code. The individuals named are members of the Kurdish folklore group Botan, which belongs to the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Members of the Political Security Directorate arrested Bozan, al-Karʿu, Sadiq, Walo, Khalil and Hanifi on January 17, 2011 in ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî). Mahmud Nabo had already been arrested by members of the Air Force Intelligence Service on December 16, 2010. The military investigating judge in Aleppo has been in charge of the case since February 23, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, March 18, 2011—The imprisoned human rights activists Kamal Husayn Shaykhu, Nasruddin Ahmi (b. 1971, married, six children), Fahima Salih Usi (b. 1979), alias Harvin Usi, and ʿAbdurrazzaq Tammu (b. 1971, married, one child) were beaten with batons during their arrest and while being held in prison. Nasruddin Ahmi sustained head injuries. Harvin Usi is currently on hunger strike to protest their arrest. On March 17, 2011, the first military investigating judge in Damascus interrogated the four human rights activists along with 28 other people and decided that they will remain in prison. They are accused of criminal offenses pursuant to Articles 285 and 286 of the Criminal Code. Thus far no charges have been filed. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 17, 2011—On March 16, 2011, Syrian security authorities arrested at least 35 Kurdish and Arab human rights activists. Kamal Husayn Shaykhu, Nasruddin Ahmi, Harvin Usi and ʿAbdurrazzaq Tammu were among those taken into custody. Shayku had just been released from custody three days earlier, on March 13. Prior to the arrests, several hundred people had demonstrated in front of the Interior Ministry in Damascus, demanding the release of all political prisoners. Members of various Syrian security authorities violently ended the protest by beating people.

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KURDWATCH, March 17, 2011—Kamal Husayn Shaykhu was released from custody on March 13, 2011. His case is still pending before the court. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 17, 2011—On March 13, 2011, the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus postponed the hearing against Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad and Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa until May 8, 2011. The three leading members of the Yekîtî were arrested on December 26, 2009. Attorneys for the defendants did not appear at the hearing on March 13 with the justification that they have thus far been denied the opportunity to speak with their clients. Twenty attorneys representing the defendants signed a statement claiming the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus is using illegal measures. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 16, 2011—Students ʿAbdurrahim Tami (b. 1974, journalism student) and Anwar Murad (b. 1986, student of Arabic literature) were arrested March 12, 2011. Prior to being arrested, they had observed a moment of silence with other students at the University of Damascus to mark the seventh anniversary of the »al-Qamishli Uprising«. It is not currently known which security service arrested the two students or where they are being held.

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KURDWATCH, March 15, 2011—Anwar Naso was released from custody in Damascus on March 3, 2011. As Naso speaks no Arabic, he could not say who held him or what the accusations against him were. KurdWatch suspects that he spent the entire time at the Immigration and Passport Authority in Damascus while his identity was being clarified. After Anwar Naso’s father was released from custody, he requested an individual extract from the register of foreigners for his son. [Further information on the case]

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Kurdwatch, March 14, 2011—Ajanib now have the same status as Syrian citizens in all areas of employment. The decision by the Ministry for Social Affairs and Labor was taken March 7 and is effective immediately. Until now, ajanib (registered stateless persons) were not allowed to own a business or register one in their own name. They also did not have the right to work as a state employee (such as a teacher, judge, or doctor in a public hospital), nor were they allowed to practice law. The extent to which this decision will be implemented currently remains unclear. For more information on the discrimination that ajanib and maktumin (unregistered stateless people) are subject to in Syria, see the report »Stateless Kurds in Syria - Illegal invaders or victims of a nationalistic policy?«.

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KURDWATCH, March 13, 2011—Maryam Muhammad Silo (b. 1980) was arrested in Damascus on February 17, 2011. To date Silo’s whereabouts and the details of her arrest are unknown. Silo is a member of Yekîtiya Star, the women’s organization of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, March 13, 2011—Members of the Political Security Directorate in ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî) arrested Maryam Sabri Habash (b. 1974) on February 22, 2011. Sabri is a member of Yekîtiya Star, the women’s organization of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, March 11, 2011—The Kurdish Political Council in Syria has called for a demonstration to mark the seventh anniversary of the »al-Qamishli Uprising« of March 12, 2004. The demonstration is scheduled for March 12, 2011, at 3 pm at the Qudurbak cemetery in al-Qamishli where many of the victims of the uprising are buried. A five minute silent protest is planned at 11 am. March 12 is known to activists as the »Day of the Kurdish Martyr«. The Kurdish Political Council, a coalition of nine Syrian-Kurdish parties, also called for lighting candles on rooftops and in front of homes and businesses on the eve of March 12, 2011.

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KURDWATCH, March 11, 2011—On March 7, 2011, the Second Criminal Court in Damascus postponed the hearing against Kamal Husayn Shaykhu until April 14, 2011. Despite his poor health, Shaykhu took part in the hearing. However, in protest of his detention, he refused to answer the judge’s questions about the charges filed against him. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 11, 2011—The military judge in al-Qamishli acquitted Nauaf Muhammad ʿUthman on March 7, 2011. After two days in custody at the Political Security Directorate in Damascus, ʿUthman was transferred to the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah and from there to the al-Qamishli prison. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 10, 2011—The single military judge in al-Qamishli acquitted the writer Hawas Salman Mahmud and released him from custody February 27, 2011. Following his arrest on January 12, 2011, he was initially detained at the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah and was later transferred to the al-Qamishli prison. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 9, 2011—Numerous Arab and Kurdish political prisoners in the ʿAdra prison have been on hunger strike since March 8, 2011. Involved in the hunger strike are Habib as-Salih, Mustafa Jumʿah Bakr, ʿAli al-ʿAbdullah, Mahmud Barish, Kamal al-Libuani, Muhammad Saʿid Husayn al-ʿUmar, Mishʿal at-Tammu, Anwar al-Buni, Khalaf al-Jarbuʿ, Saʿdun Mahmud Shaykhu, Ismaʿil ʿAbdi and Kamal Shaykhu. In a statement, the prisoners justified their hunger strike with the 48th anniversary of the state of emergency in Syria, which was declared on March 8, 1963, as well as with the seventh anniversary of the »Al-Qamishli Uprising«, which began on March 12, 2004. 32 Kurds died in the uprising. The statement declared that it is time for democratic change in the Arab world and that what is legitimate in Tunisia, Egypt, and other states cannot be illegitimate in Syria. The statement also demanded the end of politically motivated arrests and the granting of basic civil and political rights.

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KURDWATCH, March 9, 2011—President Baschar al-Assad granted amnesty to all prisoners with sentences of more than three years by issuing a presidential decree (No. 34) on March 7, 2011. However, exceptions included all offenses prosecuted pursuant to Article 307 and 308 of the Criminal Code. As a large number of Kurdish activists are prosecuted on the basis of these two articles, few Kurds charged for political reasons will profit from this decree. The decree’s only beneficiaries are those activists who are charged pursuant to Article 288 of the Criminal Court.

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KURDWATCH, March 8, 2011—On March 5, 2011, ʿAbdurrahman Muhammad ʿUmar, alias Bave Salah, was released from custody. Following his arrest, he had been initially detained by the Air Force Intelligence Directorate in Aleppo where he was tortured with blows to the soles of his feet. Two weeks later he was transferred to the Political Security Directorate in Aleppo, where he was forced to spend the rest of his detention in solitary confinement. During the interrogations, ʿAbdurrahman Muhammad ʿUmar was questioned about his appearances at Kurdish events. No charges were brought against him. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 8, 2011—On February 25, 2011, Nauaf Muhammad ʿUthman (b. 1957, married, four children), a Dutch citizen of Kurdish descent, was arrested at the Damascus airport. ʿUthman wanted to visit his sick brother in Syria. The reason for ʿUthman’s arrest and his current whereabouts were unknown at the time of the writing of this report.

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KURDWATCH, March 4, 2011—The student, journalist, and human rights activist Kamal Husayn Shaykhu was transferred from the ʿAdra prison to a hospital in Damascus. Shaykhu has been on a hunger strike since February 16 and has had water since February 26. Shaykhu, who has been detained since June 23 of last year, hopes this will force his release. It is currently unclear whether he will be able to take part in the next hearing at the Second Criminal Court in Damascus on March 7. Charges pursuant to Article 286 have been raised against Shaykhu. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, March 1, 2011—Jiwan Ayu and Rodi Ayu were arrested with 12 other people by members of the Directorate for Political Security in Damascus on February 23. They had peacefully been expressing their solidarity with the protesters in Libya at the Libyan Embassy. Similar actions had already taken place in front of the Egyptian Embassy. During the arrest the brothers were beaten. They were released on the same day.

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KURDWATCH, February 26, 2011—The al‑Hasakah criminal court decided to release Badr Naso from prison on February 13, 2011, but the final decision in his case is still pending. Naso was deported from Hildesheim on February 1, 2011. Anwar Naso remains in custody in Damascus. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 24, 2011—The imprisoned Yekîtî members Hasan Ibrahim Salih and Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad were allowed visits from relatives for the first time on February 22, 2011. The fifteen-minute visit took place at the Political Security Directorate’s al‑Fayhaʾ pretrial prison in Damascus, not at the ʿAdra prison where the two are being held with Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa. The attorneys for the three imprisoned continue to be denied access to their clients. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 19, 2011—On February 17, 2011, the single military judge in al‑Qamishli sentenced ʿUmar ʿAbdi Ismaʿil, ʿAbdussamad Husayn Mahmud and Ahmad Fatah Ismaʿil to six months imprisonment and a fine of 100 Syrian liras pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. Due to mitigating circumstances pursuant to Article 244, the sentence was reduced to four months and a fine of 60 Syrian liras. Moreover a sentencing fee of 400 Syrian liras was imposed upon the three poets and they were banned from employment in the public sector. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 18, 2011—On January 30, 2011, the single military judge in al‑Qamishli sentenced Walida Shaykhmus Boti to four months imprisonment and a fine of sixty Syrian liras pursuant to Article 288 of the Criminal Code. [More information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 17, 2011—On January 25, 2011, the education authorities in al‑Hasakah made the decision to transfer teacher Jihad Rashad ʿAliko (b. 1973, married, one child, brother of the former chairman of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria, Yekîtî) from the girls’ school in al‑Darbasiyah to a school in the entirely Arab village of Tall Tishrin. The transfer was justified as being »in the interest of the general public«. ʿAliko suspects that the reason for his transfer was his participation in a minute of silence against Decree 49 on September 10, 2010.

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KURDWATCH, February 16, 2011—On February 9, 2011, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) functionary ʿIsa Ibrahim Hisu was released from custody at the Political Security Directorate’s al‑Fayhaʾ pretrial prison in Damascus. Following his arrest on October 16, 2010, Hisu was initially transferred to the State Security Service in Damascus where he was detained for a month. He and forty-nine others were held in a cell that was so narrow that the detainees had to sleep pressed close together. Hisu was subsequently moved to the Political Security Directorate in Damascus, where he was first held in a windowless, 80 by 180 centimeters wide solitary cell in the basement. Since the first of the year he had been sharing a cell with fourteen other prisoners. Hisu was arrested for taking part in a PYD congress in Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2010. No charges have been filed. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 13, 2011—On February 1, 2011, the Hildesheim Immigration Authority deported Badir Naso (b. 1948) and his son Anwar Naso (b. 1996) to Syria. Badir Naso’s diabetic wife could not be sent back as she collapsed at the airport and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. Upon their arrival in Damascus, Badir and Anwar Naso were immediately arrested and transferred to the Emigration and Passport Authority. Anwar Naso is accused of making false statements about his age. He is still being held by the Emigration and Passport Authority and must wait for a certificate of his identity from al‑Hasakah. His father was initially brought to the Political Security Directorate and interrogated, and was subsequently transferred to the ʿAdra prison near Damascus. On February 11, he was to be transferred to the prison in al‑Hasakah. The accusations against Badir Naso are thus far unknown. Badir and Anwar Naso are registered stateless people (ajanib).

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KURDWATCH, February 11, 2011—On January 29, 2011, the teacher Yusuf Ahmad Mirjan was released from pretrial custody, where he had been held by the State Security Service without charge since October 12, 2010. By his own account, he was interrogated by members of the State Security in Damascus concerning his collaboration with and knowledge of Kurdish political parties in Syria. At the time of his arrest his computer and several CDs were confiscated. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 10, 2011—On February 6, 2011, a military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the hearing against ʿUmar ʿAbdi Ismaʿil, ʿAbdussamad Husayn Mahmud, and Ahmad Fatah Ismaʿil until February 17, 2011. The defendants’ attorneys had previously submitted their plea. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 9, 2011—On February 6, 2011, the Supreme State Security Court in Damascus postponed the hearing against Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad, and Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa until March 13, 2011. The prosecution had previously brought charges orally pursuant to Article 267 of the Criminal Code although typically charges are filed in writing. The defendants themselves were not present, and their attorneys continue to have no contact with them. Regardless, the attorneys must submit their plea at the next hearing. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 7, 2011—On February 2, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli sentenced the writer ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajji Ibrahim, alias Siamand Ibrahim, to six months imprisonment and a fine of 100 Syrian liras pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. Due to mitigating circumstances pursuant to Article 244, the sentence was reduced to three months and a fine of 50 Syrian liras. In addition, ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajji Ibrahim was subjected to a sentencing fee of 400 Syrian liras. Moreover, the judge ruled that while Ibrahim’s cell phone will be returned to him, all other material seized from him will remain impounded. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 3, 2011—The Political Security Directorate has decided that ʿAbdulkarim Farsanda ʿAbdulkarim must remain in prison for a total of one and a half months. He is accused of attempting to illegally exit Syria although he has not been officially charged. In Syria, people may be held for up to three months without charge. ʿAbdulkarim is currently in al-Hasakah’s central prison. Initially, he had been held in the Political Security Directorate’s pretrial prison in al-Hasakah for seven days following his arrest. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, February 1, 2011—On January 30, 2011, the bar association’s Court of Professional Conduct in Aleppo postponed a hearing in the case of the attorney and human-rights activist Radif Anwar Mustafa until April 3, 2011. Representatives of several international bar associations and human-rights organizations had come to Aleppo to observe the hearing. In contrast, members of the Aleppo bar association did not appear. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 29, 2011—On January 27, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the trial against Umar ʿAbdi Ismaʿil, ʿAbdussamad Husayn Mahmud, and Ahmad Fatah Ismaʿil until February 6, 2011. Prior to this the defendants were questioned about the charges against them according to Article 307 of the Criminal Code. They have denied all charges. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 27, 2011—Members of the Syrian security authorities arrested the singer ʿAbdurrahman Muhammad ʿUmar (b. 1951, married, seven children), also known as Bave Salah, in his apartment in Aleppo on January 24, 2011. The reason for the arrest and Bave Salah’s current whereabouts remain unknown.

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KURDWATCH, January 26, 2011—The Supreme State Security Court in Damascus will resume the hearing against Hasan Ibrahim Salih, Maʿruf Ahmad Mula Ahmad, and Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa on February 6, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 26, 2011—On January 23, 2011,the single military judge in al‑Qamishli acquitted Jamal Ibrahim Manje. He had been charged pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code in connection with his participation in a minute of silence against Decree No. 49. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 25, 2011—On January 19, 2011, members of the Political Security Directorate in al-Hasakah arrested the writer and human-rights activist Ibrahim Barakat ʾAhmad (b. 1964, married, two children). Prior to his arrest he was made to report to the Political Security Directorate in al-Qamishil several times.

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KURDWATCH, January 24, 2011—On January 23, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the hearing against the writer ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajji Ibrahim, alias Siamand Ibrahim, until February 2, 2011. Prior to this the attorneys had filed a written statement in which they plead not guilty. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 21, 2011—On January 19, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the hearing against the writer ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajji Ibrahim, also known as Siamand Ibrahim, until January 23, 2011. Due to a court error, the previously scheduled hearing could not take place. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 20, 2011—On January 16, 2011, ʿAbdulkarim Farsanda ʿAbdulkarim (b. 1983) was arrested at the Nusaybin/al-Qamishli border crossing upon entry from Turkey. The reason for his arrest is not yet known. ʿAbdulkarim is currently being held in pretrial detention in al-Hasakah by the Political Security Directorate.

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KURDWATCH, January 19, 2011—The single military judge in al-Qamishli will open the trial against poets Umar ʿAbdi Ismaʿil, ʿAbdussamad Husayn Mahmud and Ahmad Fatah Ismaʿil on January 27, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 19, 2011—On January 16, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the hearing of Jamal Ibrahim Manje until January 23, 2011. Prior to the postponement, the defendant’s attorney had made his final speech. The verdict is expected in the next session. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 18, 2011—On January 16, 2011, the single military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the hearing of the writer ʿAbdussalam ʿAbdullah Hajji Ibrahim, also known as Siamand Ibrahim, until January 19, 2011. The defendant was not brought from prison to the hearing. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 18, 2011—On January 17, 2011, the single military judge in Aleppo postponed the hearing in the case of a total of fifty PYD sympathizers until January 24, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 18, 2011—On January 11, 2011, members of the Political Security Directorate in Aleppo arrested the attorney Anwar Muhammad Fayiq Muslim (b. 1976, married, two children). Prior to this, he was summoned via the bar association to report to the Political Security Directorate. Muslim is being held in the intelligence service’s pretrial prison in Aleppo. In recent years, Muslim had represented numerous members and supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Many of these cases are still pending before various courts.

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KURDWATCH, January 17, 2011—On January 12, 2011, the writer Hawas Salman Mahmud (b. 1960, married, four children) was arrested at the border crossing Nusaybin/al-Qamishli upon his entry from Turkey. Mahmud, whose articles on Kurd-specific topics have been published on various websites, had visited Iraqi Kurdistan with his family. He is currently being held in the Political Security Directorate’s pretrial prison in al-Hasakah.

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KURDWATCH, January 14, 2011—The brothers Mustafa and Mahabad Muhammad Shaykhu will remain in custody for at least three months. At the end of the three-month period it is expected that they will be officially charged; the Interior Ministry has granted a petition from the director of the subdistrict of Shaykh al‑Hadid (ʿAfrin district) to this effect. The petition invokes the state of emergency, which has been in effect since 1963 and allows the security authorities to hold a citizen for three months without charge. Mustafa and Mahabad Muhammad Shaykhu have been held in the ʿAfrin prison since November 9, 2010 [further information on the case].

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KURDWATCH, January 12, 2011—On January 11, 2011, the single military judge in Aleppo postponed the hearing in the case of a total of fifty PYD sympathizers until January 17, 2011. Prior to this, the defendants had repeated their testimony and called for the appropriate application of the law. The verdict is expected on January 17, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 11, 2011—Shukri Husayn Farhan was released from custody on December 18, 2010. Farhan initially had spent seventeen days in the Political Security Directorate’s remand prison in al‑Hasakah before he was transferred to the city’s civil prison. The first hearing in his case will be held before a single military judge in al‑Qamishli on January 31, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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KURDWATCH, January 10, 2010—Kurdish prisoners in the ʿAdra prison near Damascus are no longer allowed to speak to their relatives in Kurdish. Prisoners are allowed to call their relatives once a week. However, these conversations must now be conducted in Arabic, even though many of the relatives only speak Kurdish.

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KURDWATCH, January 7, 2011—On January 2, 2011, the single military judge in al‑Qamishli decided to release the singer Zozan Muhammad Shaykhu (b. 1990) from custody. On October 16, 2010, members of the Political Security Directorate arrested her at her workplace, a hair salon in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. She was charged pursuant to Article 307 of the Criminal Code, the first hearing in her case will take place on January 31, 2011. On March 21, 2010, Zozan Muhammad Shaykhu performed at a celebration organized by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to mark Newroz, the Kurdish New Year.

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KURDWATCH, January 5, 2011—On December 18, 2010, members of the Syrian security authorities arrested Qudrat Batal Horo (b. 1978). Horo is a member of Yekîtiya Star, the women’s organization of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, January 4, 2011—On December 20, 2010, the single military judge in al-Qamishli postponed the trial in the case of Jamal Ibrahim Manje until January 16, 2011. [Further information on the case]

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