Three Kurds tortured to death, arrests continue in Syria: Kurdish party
27/04/2004 AFP
DAMASCUS, April 26 (AFP) - 20h46 - A Kurdish leader on Monday charged three Kurdish detainees had been tortured to death in Syria and that police were continuing to arrest Kurds living in the north of the country.
"The arrests of Kurds is continuing ... Three Kurds died from torture," Abdel Baqi Yussef, leader of the banned banned Kurdish party Yakiti, said nearly six weeks after an outbreak of violence left at least 25 people dead.
But a call from 11 Kurdish political movements for a strike Sunday to protest the continuing arrests, was ignored in northeastern Syria when the security services intervened.
The appeal was "not heeded because the secret services and the chamber of commerce threatened shopkeepers with the heaviest of sanctions and used force to make them open their businesses," Yussef told AFP.
A Kurdish leader told AFP on Saturday that around 600 Kurds had been moved from towns and villages in the northeast of the country where they were arrested to prisons in Adra and Saidnaya, north of the capital.
Between March 12 and 17, Kurds and Syrian security forces and Arab tribes clashed in northern Syria. Kurdish sources said 40 people were killed, while Syrian officials put the death toll at 25.
The trouble broke out in Qamishli, 600 kilometres (375 miles) north of Damascus, when Arab tribesmen taunted Kurds with slogans against Iraqi Kurdish leaders and brandished portraits of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Syrian officials accused foreign infiltrators of being behind the unrest, but Kurdish leaders have cited growing resentment, including discrimination against Kurds in universities and the military.
Syria’s Kurds, estimated to total 1.5 million, represent around nine percent of the country’s population and live mainly in the north.