Human Rights Watch documents HTS detention of 11 peace activists in Idlib
Turkey - SMART
On Monday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham's (HTS) detention of 11 peace activists in Idlib, Northern Syria. The HRW demanded Turkey to put an end to the HTS' practices.
The HTS is an Islamist opposition faction previously known as the al-Nusra Front, consisting of fighting groups including the Haqq Brigade, Jabhat Ansar al-Din, and Jaysh al-Sunnah.
The HRW published a statement saying that six of the activists underwent torture in HTS prisons. The HRW suspected that the HTS detained the activists for documenting its violations.
The HRW added that the HTS detained eight of the activists between December 2017 and October 2018; however, three of the activists, including a 16-year-old, were detained before that time.
The HRW noted that it interviewed the families of four detained activists and seven activists who were released. The released activists said that people who claimed to work for the HTS arrested them from their homes, at checkpoints, or at work.
The activists added that the HTS transported them to detention centers and interrogated them, noting that six of them, including a child, underwent torture.
The HRW demanded the HTS' immediate release of all the detained activists and an end to arbitrary arrests. The HRW also demanded Turkey to use its influence to stop the HTS' abusive practices.
In recent months, the HTS has detained activists, medical staff, and humanitarian organization employees on different charges, including the lawyer and peace activist Yasser al-Salimon September 21, 2018.
In late November 2018, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) published a report accusing the HTS of involvement in the assassination of the prominent activists Hamoud Juneid and Raed al-Fares in Kafr Nubl, Idlib. The SNHR based its accusation on testimonies from the victims' relatives and the fact that the HTS detained the activists several times for their political and media activism during the Syrian Revolution.
Peace activists in Syria have suffered from restrictions, arrests, assassinations, and other practices of physical torture that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of detainees in the prisons of the Syrian government, which is the most violent party in Syria.