Thousands of released political prisoners and prisoners of conscience have been deprived of their civil rights, and continue to suffer as a result of this inhumane act. Most of those cannot travel outside the country and are deprived of any chance of employment within the public sector, and even from establishing their own respective private businesses. SHRC has managed to document many cases of true suffering which comes as a result of confiscating civil rights. A businessman who was released over10 years ago and remains without any civil rights, told how his company is registered in the names of other partners, and is often subjected to embezzlement and theft which he cannot report. He also informed us of an incident where members of the Intelligence Authorities conspired with one of his partners to steal his private car. Once again, he was unable to report the incident and file a complaint against the perpetrators as he has no right to register a car under his name whilst being stripped of his civil rights.
The case of those who have been living in forced exile is another tale of extreme inhumanity. Tens of thousands of Syrians who were forced to leave Syria for a variety of reasons spanning over a considerable period of time, particularly the 80s. Those, now spanning across three generations, all remain without any civil and citizenship rights. It is extremely difficult to prove their personal identity or register new births or deaths as they are deprived of personal documents as well as travel documents and passports. This has caused great difficulties for them in their countries of residence and in their respective employments and therefore many were forced to live in remote countries in pursuit of safety on the one hand, and in order to obtain papers that would prove their identities and those of their spouses and children, on the other. SHRC has document the migration of more than 500 people to Western Europe this year and a further 100 to Canada . Although Syrian authorities ban these citizens from their civil rights, by no means does it stop harassing them, through officials who work in the respective countries and relent to bribes and free tourism gifts offered by Syrian Embassy security officials in order to make the lives of those Syrian exiles unbearable. Last year, a number of prominent Syrian officials labelled the Syrian exiles as terrorists, in an attempt to bring their respective countries of residence to take unfavourable action. Thankfully, none of the countries paid attention to these attempts, realising that it was merely a cheap and clear attempt to harm the Syrian exiles. Indeed, such statements were made by the President, Foreign Minister, Minister for Media and Speaker of the Parliament as well as others.
SHRC has documented many cases where entire families suffered the unbearable consequences of not having any civil rights, whilst Syrian authorities continue to attempt to bring as much pain and anguish upon its victims as possible, through various brutal and inhumane means. The authorities had prevented the former President Ameen Al-Hafez and almost 300 families accompanying him from their right to return after the outbreak of the American war on Iraq . A number of those stripped from their citizenship rights seek alternative documents issued by unauthorised sources, in a desperate attempt to survive and enjoy the most basic human rights for themselves and their children, a fact which has borne numerous and significant problems for them.
The third category of those who are stripped of their civil rights are the Kurds. Kurds constitute the second largest ethnic community in Syria at 9%, whilst Arabs constitute 90% and 1% is made up of Turkmans, Sharkas, Assyrians and others. Whilst Syrian authorities allow all other ethnic groups to exercise their cultural traditions and speak their respective languages, they prevent the Kurds from speaking their language or possessing any material which pertains to their national or cultural identity, and are also prevented from celebrating their festivities. Indeed, the Kurdish poet and author; Ibraheem Al-Na’san was arrested and charged with promoting cultural and educational material in Kurdish language. As a result of the forced Arabising policies throughout Kurdish areas, tensions have heightened and a separatist call which never existed before found fertile ground upon which to rise. The authorities’ response to the peaceful demonstrations which took place in Aleppo during this year, and recently the demonstration held in front of the Parliament in Damascus, was to arrest the leaders of those demonstrations and to have them stand trial before the Supreme State Security Court charged with conspiring to separate part of a the country, which is punishable up to life imprisonment, as was the case with Marwan Uthman and Hasan Saleh. Quarter of a million Kurds remain until this day stateless (without Syrian nationality), despite being born in Syria from parents who were born in Syria, due to the biased census which was carried out in 1962, and which was adopted by the Ba’th regime, which intrinsically carried a forceful Arabising agenda. Indeed, this stateless Kurdish sector lives without any right to education, employment, personal identity papers and all other basic civil rights. Whilst communities living under similar circumstances in other countries are called ‘Budoon’, or ‘Stateless’, but in Syria , their situation is far more severe and inhumane.
Recently, a law was passed banning military personnel from performing religious acts of worship in military barracks or from participating in dialogue forums, in a move which also prevents this sector of Syrian society from practicing their basic civil rights. Such actions continue to occur throughout Syrian society today.
Syrian authorities moved to confiscate all transferable and non-transferable funds that belonged to political prisoners, and especially property. This prevents the families and relatives of the respective dissident from using their estate, as the Government would eventually confiscate the dissident’s share therein. Indeed, a number of Security Officers took over properties that belonged to political dissidents and either used them as places of residence or sold them. SHRC published a report in which it shed light on the case of Michelle Saadi who was arrested in mysterious circumstances almost 26 years ago, and whose house, where his family lived, was then forcefully taken over by a Security officer. SHRC holds dozens of reports and incidents which offer testimony to similar barbaric and inhumane practices in which dissidents’ properties were forcefully seized by Security officers, amongst others, and consequently either used for their personal abode, or sold off with revenues going to the confiscator. Such properties are in their thousands throughout Syria , and despite SHRC not having an accurate account of all these, it continues to receive countless reports in this regard.