Syria: A culture oppressed – the torture and imprisonment of Syrian Kurds - take action!
Syria: 41 years of the State of Emergency –
Amnesty International reiterates its concerns over a catalogue of human rights violations
(AI Index: MDE 24/016/2004)
Syria: Amnesty International calls on Syria to end repressive measures against Kurds and to set up an independent judicial inquiry into the recent clashes
(AI Index: MDE 24/029/2004)
Syria: End persecution of human rights defenders and human rights activists
(AI Index: MDE 24/076/2004)
Covering events from January - December 2004
Hundreds of people were arrested for political reasons. Most of them were Kurds detained following violent disturbances in north-eastern Syria in March during which over 30 people were killed. Many of those arrested were held incommunicado at unknown locations. Torture and ill-treatment, including of children, were widely reported. At least nine people reportedly died as a result. Freedom of expression and association remained severely restricted and scores of people were arrested for political reasons, including some solely involved in peaceful activities. Human rights defenders were harassed although in general they could work more openly than in previous years. Two people were reportedly executed. Over 200 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, were released.
On 12 March clashes broke out between Arab and Kurdish fans at a football stadium in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria. Security forces responded by firing into the crowd, killing several people. Police attacked Syrian Kurdish mourners the next day, resulting in two days of rioting by Syrian Kurds in several towns in the mainly Kurdish north-east. At least 36 people, mostly Kurds, were reportedly killed and over 100 injured. More than 2,000 people, most of them Kurds, were believed to have been arrested. Most were held incommunicado at unknown locations and there were widespread reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including children. About 200 Kurds remained detained at the end of the year. At least six Kurds were killed while carrying out their military service. No investigations were known to have been initiated into the killings. The predominantly Kurdish areas of north and north-east Syria continued to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of social and economic indicators.