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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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KHRP concerned over further arrests in Syria

Syria’s repressive approach steps up despite earlier promises.

Syria’s security apparatus has arrested around a thousand protesters since Friday in a concerted effort to crush the dissent that has gripped the Syrian state in recent weeks. Human rights defenders within Syria estimate that the death toll since protests began in March stands at over 500, although the difficulties in communicating from within the country mean that this is likely to be higher. Concern is intensifying for the safety of journalists within Syria, with those that are actually able to make it into the country at risk of arrest, violence or disappearance.

As well as the 'hard' tactics, the regime has attempted other 'soft' approaches such as lifting the long-standing emergency laws and an offer of amnesty to protesters who give themselves up before the 15th May. However, the lifting of the emergency laws has made little difference to the regime's brutal crackdown on the unrest, leading many to question whether other promises are similarly hollow.

In a country where they have historically been classed as 'foreigners', Kurdish activists have condemned the continued oppression, hoping that a conciliatory approach to the unrest will bring their ethnic group political concessions. However, in an official statement the Kurdish Yek Party stated that if the oppression continued Kurdish voices would join the fray, despite the regime’s attempt to placate them through promises of citizenship. The regime has responded harshly to such voices, raising concerns about continued human rights abuses towards the Kurds. On Saturday two Kurdish activists were arrested after calling for pro-democracy demonstrations in the north-eastern city of Qamishli, the first arrests in the Syrian Kurdish areas since unrest began in March. KHRP remains concerned about their fate, and the treatment and status of all others detained as a result of recent events.

Kerim Yildiz, of the Kurdish Human Rights Project in London said,

“We are concerned about the latest surge in the regime’s crackdown and its spread to the Kurdish areas. This latest unrest comes after decades of frustration built up by the lack of representation and by human rights abuses that have persisted for decades. All viewpoints must be permitted to be heard, including those of Kurds, and KHRP urges the international community to press Syria to listen to the legitimate demands of all of its citizens equally”.