DAMASCUS — Dozens of jailed Kurds in Syria started a hunger strike on Thursday in solidarity with rights activists who have mounted the same action in a prison near Damascus, a rights group said.
“Dozens of Kurds jailed in Syria — members of Yakiti party and the Democratic Union — have started a hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners of conscience in Adra,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Thirteen activists held in Adra said in a statement that their protest was launched on Monday to demand “an end to political detention and injustice, as well as the recovery of stolen civil and political rights” in Syria.
One of those detained, leading human rights lawyer Haythem al-Maleh, was freed on Tuesday under a presidential pardon.
Human rights advocates have repeatedly criticised the tight controls imposed on civil society through arbitrary detention, restrictions on freedom of expression and other forms of repression.
On Tuesday, 12 Syrian rights groups called for the “amendment of all laws that prevent human rights organisations from working openly and freely, and civil society from playing its role effectively.”
They also asked the authorities to “urgently take all necessary steps to cancel all forms of discrimination against the Kurdish people” who form nine percent of the Syrian population.
“The Kurds are entitled to enjoy their culture and use their language in accordance with their civil, political, cultural, social and economic rights,” they said in a joint statement.