الرئيسية » English Articles » invited to the seminar on the 4th Remembrance of the abduction of cleric Sheikh Muhammed Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi

invited to the seminar on the 4th Remembrance of the abduction of cleric Sheikh Muhammed Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi

 Hevkari (Co-operation Committee of Western Kurdistan) is organising a Seminar on Friday 12th June 2009, 6.30-8.30pm

Venue:
Mandela Room: WKA, Palingswick House, 241 King Street,
Hammersmith, London, W6 9LP
For further information, contact wka@knc.org.uk , Tel: 02087487874

You are cordially invited to the seminar on the 4th Remembrance of the abduction and “torture to death” of the leading Kurdish cleric Sheikh Muhammed Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi by the Syrian regime.


The seminar will discuss and highlight the following demands:

• The importance of liaison for calling the international community, International Court of Justice and European Court of Human Rights to launch an independent investigation into the death of Sheikh Muhammed Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi who was tortured to death in Syrian custody, as the Syrian authorities have prevented any investigation to be carried out since four years after this political assassination.

• The result of the investigation has to be made public.

• Those responsible for this inhuman crime should be brought to justice in a trial that meets international standards of fairness.


Background
Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi was an outspoken member of the Kurdish
community who practiced as an imam in the city of Qamishli in Western Kurdistan (north-eastern Syria). He was a critic of violence and terrorism and a short time before his death called for reforms in Syria and for more dialogue between religious groups. In February and March 2005 he travelled to Norway, Brussels, and Germany, apparently in connection with his work on building relations between the EU and the Kurdish community

Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznaw “disappeared” after leaving the Centre for Islamic
Studies in Damascus on May 10th 2005. His body was returned to his family in al-Qamishli 20 days later. The Syrian authorities deny any role in his abduction and death although he is reported to have been subjected to harassment by Syrian security officials in the period before his abduction and to have feared for his life.

An Amnesty International statement called for new and impartial investigation into abduction and killing of Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi.

Amnesty International called on the Syrian government to investigate the alleged involvement of security officials in the enforced disappearance and murder of a leading Kurdish religious figure in May 2005. In letters to President Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs the organisation questioned the official explanation for Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al Khiznawi’s death, that he was killed by members of a “terrorist, criminal gang”, in light of information pointing to the involvement of state officials.
As early as June 1st 2005 Amnesty International stated that information it had received suggested that Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi may have died as a result of torture after being detained by Syrian Military Intelligence. The latest information received casts further doubt on the Syrian authorities’ denial during the period of “disappearance”, two senior officials – whom Amnesty International names in its letters – reportedly acknowledged to concerned individuals that Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi was being held in Syrian custody.
According to reports, Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi was detained for some of this period at the Palestine Branch of Military Intelligence, at Sednaya prison and later at Tishreen Military Hospital, where he was said to have been in a very critical state of health.
This, and other information received, also raises suspicions about the thoroughness and independence of the official investigation and suggests that the sole path of enquiry apparently being pursued by the authorities, namely that the abduction and killing was carried out by a “terrorist, criminal gang” and about which some of its alleged members were shown on Syrian state television on June 2nd 2005 “confessing” to the killing – is both insufficient and flawed.
This information includes:
The family of Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi was not permitted to have a private autopsy carried out on the body.
The family’s lawyers have not received a copy of the results of the official autopsy carried out on the body.
The family’s lawyers have not received a copy of the dossier of the investigation to date.
The description which the members of the “terrorist, criminal gang” gave of the burial of the body and of the grave reportedly does not conform to the grave that was shown to the sons and other individuals.
The “fresh” state of the body – notwithstanding apparent signs of torture and other ill-treatment including burn marks to the back and arms, broken front teeth, a broken nose, a lesion to the side of the head and with his beard shaved off – as seen by certain individuals after it was reportedly discovered around May 29th 2005, does not correspond with the expected state of a corpse of someone killed up to three weeks previously and buried in a warm environment, as stated in the televised “confessions” of the “terrorist, criminal gang” members who said that they killed Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi shortly after they captured him on May 10th 2005.
Consequently, Amnesty International considers the official explanation to date for the abduction and killing of Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi to be unconvincing and is concerned that the official enquiry is seriously flawed. The organisation is therefore calling on the Syrian authorities to launch a new, independent, thorough and impartial enquiry, for its results to be made public and for those responsible for the Sheikh’s abduction and death to be brought to justice in a trial that meets international standards of fairness and does not carry the possible imposition of the death penalty.

According to Amnesty International’s information, Sheikh Muhammad Ma’shuq al-Khiznawi is at least the sixth Syrian Kurd to have died as a result of torture and ill-treatment in custody since March 2004. Amnesty International has not received information about any investigations into any of these deaths in custody, nor into any other of the scores of allegations of torture that it has received over many years. The organisation knows of no cases in which officials responsible for torture have been prosecuted. More than 2,000 people, almost all of them Kurds, were arrested in the wake of March 2004 disturbances Most of these were held incommunicado at unknown locations, and about 100 remain in detention.