41 Syrian organizations appeal to U.N. to release Syrian detainees in Turkish prisons

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA – In a joint statement to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachellet, 41 Syrian organization expressed their deep concerns about the fate of more than 90 Syrian detainees in Halwan Prison in the city of Orhoy‎ (Urfa) in Turkey.

The statement revealed that the detainees are Syrians who had been arrested at the end of October and November 2019 in the countryside of Tel Abyad and Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) after Turkey’s invasion of North Syria. The detainees have spent a long time in detention centers of the Syrian National Army (SNA), a collection of militias, including several espousing Islamist ideologies, which acts as Turkey’s force on the ground during its Syrian operations.

The detainees have been subjected to mistreatment and forced confessions under pressure in Syria before being transferred to Halwan Prison. They were then put before a court and charged with violating the unity of the Turkish state, premeditated murder, and belonging to terrorist organizations.

In their letter, the Syrian organizations appealed to the United Nations to put pressure on the Turkish government to stop the arbitrary trials against the detainees, allow international committees and organizations access to them, allow the detainees families to communicate with them, and eventually release the detainees and allow them to return to Syria.

A joint statement of three human rights organizations operating in northern Syria was issued last March. The triple statement indicated that the fate of about 3400 people is still unknown in the prisons of Turkey’s and their factions since their occupation of Afrin city which began in January 2018.