Press Release: On Arresting Activists in Northeastern Territories of Syria by the Democratic Union Party PYD

July 2021: 

In violation of the basic principles of human rights and an escalatory step that restricts civil work and public and basic freedoms, armed groups affiliated with the security forces of the [1]PYD party carried out a kidnapping campaign in northeastern Syria against four local officials of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria, and took them to an unknown destination. The campaign included:

  1. Izz al-Din Zain al-Abidin Mahmoud, a member of the regional council of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Qamishli city:

The kidnapping took place on the 17th of July 2021 around 9:30 pm. According to the testimony of a member of the Izz al-Din family[2] to the center’s team, two masked gunmen put him in a Sonata car and drove him to an unknown destination.

In addition, according to neighbors, the license plate of that car ended with the number (569), and there was a Jeep pickup truck at the entrance to the neighborhood. The truck is believed to belong to the Autonomous Administration controlling the area. The source added that no previous threats had ever been made to Izz al-Din to the best of his knowledge, and there were no new activities that could form the grounds for arresting him. Some acquaintances of Izz al-Din believe that he was arrested to force the release of detainees from the Democratic Union Party who had been arrested in the Kurdistan region/Iraq.

It is worth noting that Ezz El-Din was arrested between 2014-2015 for nearly two months following his participation in the delegation receiving the dead in the Kurdistan region where some quarrels during the reception process took place. He was arrested afterwards.

  1. Barzan Hussein, member of the party’s regional council in  Al-Maabadah town (şaredarya Girkê legê)

     On Tuesday, the 18th of July 2021, “Barzan Hussein” was kidnapped from the city of Al-Malikiyah (Derik) located in Al-Hasakah Governorate. A member of Barzan’s family stated to the center’s team that during that day, at 2:00 am, the house bell rang loudly with rough foot banging on the door, and, when Barzan’s son opened the door, he was violently attacked with weapons by 15 or 16 kidnappers including two women, and one of them filmed the arrest process from the beginning. Some of them were wearing black clothes while others wore green outfits “like the Asayish clothes”. They also used 3 cars, a Jeep and two pickups. Barzan’s family accuses  the Asayish forces of the raid, noting that Barzan was subjected to constant threats, as he once found threats of death written on the doors of his house and shop that said “Your death is near, you traitor of the homeland”.

It is worth mentioning that Barzan was arrested earlier on the 13th of May 2017 for nearly 6 months, where he was subjected to torture, without any knowledge for the grounds of his arrest. His family believes that the reason for the arrest is because he is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Syria.

  1. Muhammad Daham Ayew, a member of the party’s advisory body and a former head of the local council of the Kurdish National Council in Qamishli city

On the 17th of July 2021, at approximately 11:30 p.m , “Muhammad Daham Ayew” was kidnapped by an armed group affiliated with the Expeditionary Forces of the PYD party in the city of Qamishli during the opening of a pastry shop for his son. (F, A), a local activist and human rights defender, stated to the center’s team that, according to witnesses, there were more than 10 masked kidnappers who used four-wheel vehicles bearing the “HAT”, a logo of a group called the Expeditionary Forces of the PYD party. The arrest was carried out without any resistance.

According to the source, “Muhammad Ayew”, who is also a member of the advisory committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Syria, was not previously threatened. However, he was arrested twice during the past years by the PYD. There is no information about the location or reasons for his current detention so far.

  1. Mohammad Salih Shallal Ahmad, a member of the regional council of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the countryside of Al-Jawadiyah town (Çil Axa)

On the 17th of July 2021, a masked armed group affiliated with the Expeditionary Forces of the PYD party, known as “HAT”, arrested “Mohammad Salih Shallal” at 09:00 pm.

Activist (F.A) stated to the center’s team that the arrest was in Al-Salih’s house in the village of “Abira” located in the countryside of Al-Jawadiyah town (Çil Axa), but the circumstances of the incident are unknown, bearing in mind that Mohamed Saleh has never been subjected to any previous arrests or threats.


The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, condemning all arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances in Syria, holds the Democratic Union Party (PYD) fully responsible for the safety of the detainees and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. The SCM also calls on relevant international organizations for an intervention to immediately release the detainees.

The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression calls for revealing the fate of the four detainees, their immediate release, and holding accountable those who are responsible of the arrest. In Addition, the center calls on all local and national authorities in northeastern Syria to assume their responsibilities of protecting political and civilian activists in general from any violation, especially kidnappings and enforced disappearances.

Practicing kidnapping and enforced disappearance against the four political activists and the concealing of their fate are violations of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to liberty and physical integrity, economic and social rights of detainees/absentees (for members of their families as well), and the right to truth that is stated in Article 31 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. This is also a violation of Articles 20 and 21 of the Democratic Autonomous Administration’s Social Contract, which guarantee international covenants and charters. That is in addition to the violation of the total rules stipulated in the third item of the Charter.

[1]The Democratic Union Party PYD (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat) is a Syrian Kurdish political party founded by Kurdish nationalists in 2003 in northern Syria. The party is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is listed and classified as a terrorist organization in Turkey, the United States, the European Union and NATO.

[2]We will not be revealing any information related to witnesses from the victims’ families in this statement due to security reasons