Syrians held in Turkish prison “in breach of international law”, advocates say

Scores of Syrians detained have been accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party and moved to a prison in Sanliurfa, Turkey

At least 70 Syrian nationals are being held in Turkish prisons and are facing prosecution on terrorism charges after being captured inside Syria after Turkey launched its Oct. 9 invasion of northeastern Syria.

Legal experts and Syrian activists say the Syrians are being held in breach of international law and have been subjected to torture and other ill treatment. Hidayet Enmek, a lawyer acting on behalf of five of the detainees, told Al-Monitor his clients had been tortured during their interrogation. Most are believed to be held in the Hilvan maximum security prison in Sanliurfa province.

The arrests were first confirmed in December by the Sanliurfa chief prosecutor’s office, which referred to the detainees as terrorists who had been apprehended committing crimes. They are being charged with targeting the unity of the Turkish state, membership in a terrorist organization and intent to kill.

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All are accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

The Syrians were scheduled to appear in court April 20 but the hearing was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enmek said they face aggravated life sentences if convicted as charged.

Read more: al-monitor