[JURIST] Four Kurds accused in Syria of separatism were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison by Syria's Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), independent rights group National Organization for Human Rights in Syria [advocacy website] said Monday. Two of the men, Hamid Suleiman Mohammed and Adnan Muwaymesh, were sentenced to 10 years, while Ibrahim Haj Yussef and Ahmed Hassan Habash were sentenced to seven years; all were convicted of working "to break away areas of Syrian territory so that they can be annexed to an independent state." The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria also reported that the SSSC had sentenced two Sunnis to two years in prison each for "inciting communal and ethnic tensions," but both were released on time served.
Human rights groups have accused Syria of using the SSSC, whose rulings cannot be appealed, to intimidate political dissidents. In 2004, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Syria to try suspects in civilian courts rather than in the security courts [HRW report]. HRW has also accused Syria of "systematic discrimination" against Kurds, including the arbitrary denial of citizenship to Syria-born Kurds [HRW report]. Kurds are the largest non-Arab minority in Syria and constitute about 10 percent of the country's population. AFP has more.