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Questions Raised Over Kurdish Leader's Death

(7-Mar-08)
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Kurdish human rights organisations in Syria are blaming the Syrian authorities for the death of a top Kurdish leader.



Former Syrian member of parliament Osman Sulayman, 61, died in hospital on February 18 shortly after his release from prison. He was arrested in late November after participating in a demonstration against the Turkish incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan.



Sulayman did not receive adequate medical care while he was detained, human rights organisations maintained. The Kurdish Organisation for Defending Human Rights and Freedoms in Syria said that he suffered from lung cancer.



"We hold the Syrian authorities fully responsible for the death of the Kurdish parliamentarian because of the miserable state of Syrian prisons, and also for the cruel treatment that the prisoners receive,” the organisation DAD, or Justice, said in a statement. “We demand the authorities treat prisoners well and pay attention to their health, in line with international standards for the treatment of prisoners."



Another human rights organisation in Syria, known as MAF, or Rights, demanded that a investigation be launched into Sulayman’s death to determine whether he was abused.



Sulayman, a prominent Kurdish political activist, served as a member of parliament in the early Nineties. He was arrested in 1995 by the military and spent five months in jail. He was re-arrested in 2002 and 2005, when he was held for a month and six weeks, respectively.



He was from Dadali in Syria’s Kubani region. Thousands of residents from the town of Kubani attended the burial in Sulayman's his home village.



The Syrian Kurdish organisation known as MAD, which defends human rights, called Sulayman’s death a "flagrant violation of the international charter of human rights and international conventions".



The Syrian government has not commented on Sulayman’s death or responded to calls for his time in prison to be investigated.



(Syria News Briefing, a weekly news analysis service, draws on information and opinion from a network of IWPR-trained Syrian journalists based in the country.)

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