The PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) continues to detain opposition activists arbitrarily in Syria and hold them in squalid conditions, according to an Amnesty International (AI) report last week.
Three Syrian opposition activities were arrested arbitrarily last month by the Asayish, a self-governing police force led by the PYD, according to the non-governmental organization (NGO) report titled, "Arbitrary Detention of Syrian Opposition Activists." Activists Mohsen Taher, 49, Amin Hossam, 58, and Bashar Amin, 70, are being held in squalid conditions in the Alaya prison in Qamishli in northeast Syria despite no charges being brought against them.
According to the report, the activists' family members said no arrest warrants were issued against them despite an "order" for their arrest. After the arrest, the families could not get in touch with the activists for 10 days until receiving a call upon which they learned that the activists were being held in a prison in Qamishli.
Their relatives told AI that the activists had not been officially charged with any crime and the three are being held in poor conditions with no adequate ventilation system and not enough food, according to the families who indicated that these conditions affect the health of the three activists.In the report, AI called for international organizations and public leaders to urge forces at Asayish to either release the activists or charge them with a recognizable crime in accordance with international law and humanitarian standards.
Stating that the arrest of political activists is believed to have been part of a planned campaign launched by the Asayish forces under the auspices of leadership in their self-governed area usually referred to as "Rojava," the report indicated that since March 14, Asayish forces had arrested several members of the Kurdish opposition party and its supporters in Qamishli as well as in more than nine cities around Rojava. Some of the detainees, according to the report, were arbitrarily detained for a year without being formally charged or brought to trial. Those who had been tried were also subject to prolonged pre-trial detention in actions that were characterized as extreme injustice.
The PYD continues carrying out its aim of changing the demographics in northern Syria by forcing Arab and Turkmen populations to migrate, while also oppressing Kurds who don't share the same political ideology.
The PYD's oppression of rival political voices, including burning down their offices, arresting or kidnapping members, has been voiced as a concern by Kurds in northern Syria. The Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) has been a critical voice against the arrests and abductions carried out by the PYD. The report by the Interior Ministry stated, "The PYD/YPG terrorist groups have been kidnapping, detaining and executing those individuals that they consider the enemy in northern Syria." This statement was evocative of a report previously published in January 2016 by the Syrian Network of Human Rights (SNHR) that stated, "Until the date of publication of the SNHR report, it was noted that at least 407 civilians, including 51 children, 43 women and scores of other individuals, have lost their lives either being tortured or killed by the PYD/YPG."
Meanwhile, President Erdoğan Thursday slammed the U.S. for its cooperation with the PYD and it armed wing the YPG, saying that if terror groups engage in action against Turkish forces, Ankara will "do whatever is necessary."Speaking in an interview with Portugal's RTP television, Erdoğan said the number of weapons given to PYD terrorists by the U.S. for the "anti-Daesh" fight in Raqqa was very excessive. "U.S. soldiers and officers are acting together with a terror group. Unfortunately, a lot of weapons were delivered to them [the YPG], including heavy weapons. Now, they are advancing, with a terror group, to Raqqa," he said.
The president also said that Turkey had many times offered to conduct the Raqqa operation alongside the U.S.; however, Washington preferred to carry it out with the YPG. "After we saw that U.S. officials were very insistent on carrying out the operation with those terror groups, we said that Turkey will do whatever necessary without consulting anyone, if any violation were to be committed against our country," Erdoğan said.