Amnesty International published a report on Monday accusing the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of using an anti-ISIS fight as a pretext for arbitrary detentions and unfair trials against “peaceful critics and civilians” in the regions that it controls in Syria.
The PYD has been controlling a region in northern Syria along its Turkish borders starting from Afrin in the west and extending to northeastern most point of Syria, only interrupted by a region controlled mainly by ISIS between Jarablus and Marea.
“The Democratic Union Party (PYD)-led autonomous administration in northern Syria is using a crackdown against terrorism and the armed group, calling itself the Islamic State [ISIS] as a pretext to unlawfully detain and unfairly try peaceful critics and civilians believed to be sympathizers or members of alleged terror groups,” Amnesty International said in its report.
“The PYD-led autonomous administration cannot use their fight against terrorism as an excuse to violate the rights of individuals in areas under their control,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.
Turkey considers PYD as the Syrian wing of PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, NATO, the US and the EU.
PYD and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) were earlier accused of forcing people out of the regions which they have captured.
After the PYD took control of Tel Abyad, a northern Syrian town mainly inhabited by Arabs and Turkmens, thousands of people fled to Turkey, escaping violence.
Speaking to Turkish media, Ershad Salihi, a leading figure from the Iraqi Turkmen Front, said that the PYD is working on a “secret plan” to force Syrian Turkmens from their homes along the Syrian-Turkish border.
“Tel Abyad is a Turkmen region in Syria. First, ISIL [ISIS] was placed here. Turkmens were forced to live under ISIL [ISIS]. Then, using ISIL [ISIS] as a pretext, these places are being handed over to Kurds, with Turkmens being forced out of their homeland,” Salihi told Hurriyet, a Turkish daily newspaper.
Amnesty International interviewed people who were arbitrarily detained or faced unfair trials by the PYD.
“Omar  an Arab from Hasakeh, said that he was detained for nearly a month and accused of being a terrorist [militant] because his name resembled that of a wanted man. No other evidence against him was presented,” an Amnesty International report detailed one case.
In another case Mohamad, who was detained by the PYD in 2014 explained the treatment he faced.
"The interrogator told me that I was innocent and will be released in 15 days…Instead, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison after seeing a judge for 10 minutes.”
“The judge refused to show me the evidence they had against me,” he added.
“It is clear that many detainees have faced grossly unjust trials in a serious violation of their rights.” Lama Fakih said.
“Everyone should have the right to defend themselves before fair courts. Instead of trampling all over people’s rights in the name of security and counter terrorism the PYD-led administration should ensure that the rights of detainees are respected.”