The Syrian Human Rights Committee reported (Arabic. 3/21/06) that Syrian security forces attacked around 3,000 Kurds celebrating the Kurdish new year festival of Norouz in Aleppo on Monday (3/20/06). Eye witnesses reported the use of live ammunition, tear gas, and batons to disperse the crowds who responded (Arabic. Levant News, 3/20/06) by throwing rocks at the security forces. An unknown number (approx. 70, according to Kurdish sources) were arrested. This comes in a series (Arabic. Levant News, 3/20/06) of recent crackdowns against Kurds.
The Arab Human Rights Organization in Syria put out a press release (Arabic. Via Ahrar Syria, 3/23/06) that Human Rights activist Najati Tayyara was kidnapped off the streets of Homs by security agents. No one has heard from him since.
Meanwhile, the SHRC reported (Arabic. 3/23/06) that the author Ali al-Abdallah (who was arrested on 5/15/05 for reading a letter from the MB's Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni to the Atassi Forum, and released on 11/2/05) was rearrested today for no apparent reason. His family too has been harassed (Arabic. SHRC, 3/23/06). One of his sons was arrested and released. His other son (as well as his nephew) was arrested days ago and is still in detention. The full story is here (Arabic. Levant News, 3/23/06).
The Kurdish Human Rights committee has noted that both Tayyara and Abdallah had participated on March 12 in the Kurdish commemorational ceremonies of the deadly 2004 clashes with the Regime (see this earlier post). Tayyara gave a speech at the rally.
The Regime also intensified its crackdown on students and Kurds, handing down prison sentences to six Kurds (Arabic. SHRC, 3/20/06) and eight students (Arabic. SHRC, 3/19/06) based on frivolous and/or false charges.
Statements and press releases by Syrian Human Rights and pro-democracy groups detailing and condeming these practices can be read here. (Arabic. Levant News, 3/23/06).
Furthermore, security forces also raided (Arabic. Ahrar Syria, 3/19/06) the office of Mansour al-Atassi in Homs where he was holding a meeting of a group of Leftists and Communists (Arabic. Levant News, 3/20/06).
The crackdown extends to publications. The lawyer Hassan Abdel Azim is to be sentenced on April 14 for publishing unlicensed publications (3 months to 3 years sentence). Charges were also leveled at another lawyer, Sabri Mirza, by a military tribunal in Qamishli for ownership of the news site "Levant News." The site is affiliated with the London-based "Levant Institute," and Mr. Mirza has no connection to it. (Arabic. Ahrar Syria, 3/19/06).