Nearly 3,417 Persons Forcibly Disappeared and at Least 67, Including One Child and Two Women, Killed under Torture in Syrian Democratic Forces’ Detention Centers since Its Establishment
Press release (Link below to download full report):
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) issued a report today condemning Syrian Democratic Forces’ forcible disappearance and killing by torture of Amin al Ali, noting that enforced disappearance and torture have become standard strategies used by the Syrian Democratic Forces, with nearly 3,417 persons forcibly disappeared and at least 67, including one child and two women, killed under torture in Syrian Democratic Forces’ detention centers since the group’s establishment.
The five-page report specifically concerns the arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, and killing under torture of the victim Amin Aisa al Ali by Syrian Democratic Forces. Al Ali, who was born in 1986 and lived in Hasaka city, was a member of the subcommittee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Syria branch. As the report reveals, on the afternoon of Saturday, May 22, 2021, a patrol of Syrian Democratic Forces personnel (whose mainstay is the forces of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK) carried out a raid on the home of Amin al Ali, without showing any judicial warrant, and arbitrarily arrested him. The next day, the family went to the security headquarters of the SDF’s ‘Asayish’ security forces, where they learnt that he had been detained by the party’s Military Prosecution division in Hasaka city, with his family members unable to obtain any official information about the charges against him throughout the entire duration of his detention, or to appoint a lawyer or visit him despite their repeated attempts.
As the report further reveals, on June 28, 2021, the family of the victim, Amin al Ali, received a call from the Martyr Sariya Military Hospital telling them to come to the hospital. Upon their arrival, Amin’s family members learned of his death while in detention. They were able to recover Amin’s body that evening from the People’s National Hospital in Hasaka, after obtaining approval from the Military Prosecution in Hasaka to do so. The report reports the victim’s relatives that Amin’s body clearly showed signs of severe torture.
The report notes that Amin al Ali had criticized the management of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the decisions issued by the Self-Management Authority on his Facebook account, sarcastically condemning them over the deterioration of living conditions; the report adds that it’s widely believed that this repeated criticism was probably the real primary motivation behind Syrian Democratic Forces’ arresting him and torturing him to death.
The report adds that Syrian Democratic Forces deny forcibly disappearing and torturing Amin, despite his family confirming that both took place. In this context, the report refers to a statement issued by Syrian Democratic Forces’ Self-Management of North and East Syria, in which it denied the violent torture of the victim and claimed that that the photos and videos which were widely shared and showed clear signs of horrendous torture on his body were fabricated, asserting that the cause of his death was a stroke, although Amin al Ali’s family issued a statement confirming that there were visible signs of torture on his body when they received it.
The report documents the deaths of at least eight people due to torture and neglect of healthcare in Syrian Democratic Forces’ detention centers, since the beginning of 2021, and at least four incidents of torture of detainees. The report also monitors a steep escalation of arrests, enforced disappearances and the suppression of freedoms in the areas under SDF’s control, mainly in Hasaka, Deir Ez-Zour and the northeastern suburbs of Aleppo, in connection with the people’s criticisms of its policies in the areas under its control.
The report stresses that international law wholly prohibits torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. This being a customary rule, states are prohibited from dismissing or undermining this rule in favor of other rights or values, even in times of emergency. Violating the laws prohibiting torture is an international crime under international criminal law, with those individuals who issued orders for torture, or assisted in its occurrence defined as being criminals with legal responsibility for these practices; Syrian Democratic Forces have practiced the crime of torture in a widespread manner, violating the right to life, with these actions constituting a flagrant violation of international human rights law.
The report notes that Syrian Democratic Forces have denied all cases of deaths due to torture by their personnel and have failed to open a single investigation or even to acknowledge these cases, or to compensate or apologize to the victims’ families; instead, they have launched fierce attacks through their media organs on human rights organizations and activists exposing their violations, slanderously accusing these organizations and activists in order to incite terrorism against and discredit these organizations and activists.
The report recommends that UN Security Council and the United Nations should condemn the Syrian Democratic Forces’ practices involving the crime of torture, and work seriously using all possible means to end them, in order to save thousands of persons forcibly disappeared by Syrian Democratic Forces from death due to torture, and that they should demand that the Syrian Democratic Forces reveal the fate of nearly 3,417 forcibly disappeared persons, and impose UN sanctions on individuals and entities involved in torture acts and death due to torture.
The report calls on the international community, the US-led coalition against ISIS, and the United States of America to take serious punitive measures against Syrian Democratic Forces to deter the group from continuing with its policies of enforced disappearances, torture and terrorizing of communities, and to open a serious investigation into the murder of Amin al Ali and hold those responsible for his execution to account, as well as providing a number of other recommendations.