Syria jails 50 Kurds over rally


AFP (via Gulf Times) reports:

A Damascus military court jailed 50 Kurds for between four and six months after a 2005 protest calling for a probe into the death of a Kurdish scholar, a Syrian human rights group said yesterday.

The demonstration in the northeastern town of Qamishli had demanded an independent inquiry into the death of rights campaigner Sheikh Maashuk Khaznawi, the National Organisation of Human Rights in Syria (NOHRS) said.

Khaznawi vanished on May 10, 2005, and the government announced on June 1 that he was dead, triggering the protest on June 5. The 50 people were arrested at the rally and held for two months before being released on bail.

The protesters were sentenced on Sunday on charges of “inciting religious and racial dissent and conflict with different religions and groups of the nation,” NOHRS said.

NOHRS president Ammar Qorabi said he hoped that “these citizens will be found innocent if they launch an appeal against the ruling,” pointing to the fact that “the Syrian constitution allows for peaceful demonstrations.”

The 2005 rally had called for the establishment of an independent commission including Kurdish lawyers to probe Khaznawi’s death.