Kurdish poets to be tried in Syria

Omar Abdi Ismail (left) and Abdulsamad Hussein Mahmud (right)

While finalising the preparations the now annual Kurdish poetry festival in Syria, members of the Political Security Directorate and local police stormed the home of Ahmed Fatah Ismail in Dêrik and collected the personal data of those in attendance. Security officers ordered them to vacate the premises or they would arrest those present. The home was evacuated and the identity cards of some of the attendees were taken and they were told to report to the Political Security branch in al-Hasakah the following day. Omar Abdi Ismail and Abdulsamad Hussein Mahmud, two poets at the house that evening, are thought to be the organisers of the event.

One of the poets present that evening, who did not reveal his name, said that since the death of the Kurdish poet Cigerxwîn (died in 1984 in Sweden, but was brought back to Qamişlo for burial), the Kurdish Poetry Day has been traditionally held every year without any security intervention by the authorities. But since last year the security has tightened and Kurdish events, including the Kurdish Poetry Festival, have been banned.

On 18 December the Political Security Directorate summoned and arrested Ahmed Fatah Ismail (b. 1969), Omar Abdi Ismail (b. 1970) and Abdulsamad Hussein Mahmud (b. 1962) for their participation in the Kurdish poetry festival the previous month. The next day they were transferred to the central prison in Qamişlo.

Three days later, on 21 December, a military judge in Qamişlo decided that they must remain in custody. Charges have been filed against them pursuant to Article 307 of the Syrian Penal Code, which states that ‘any deeds committed, writings composed, or speeches held with the intention of inciting sectarian or racial strife or provoking conflict between the religions and the various members of the nation will be condemned to prison for between six months and two years.’

The case has been sent to a military prosecutor in the city of Aleppo where proceedings will begin against the three defendants.


In Syria, a security patrol rushes into a Kurdish Poetry Festival. Shafaaq, 21 November 2010. [cached version]

Al-Qamishli: Three people charged for participation in a Kurdish poetry festival. Kurdwatch, 26 December 2010.

حملة تضامن مع ثلاث معتقلين Gemya Kurda, 27 December 2010.

تصريح مشترك: القاضي الفرد العسكري بالقامشلي يقرر توقيف أثنين من الشعراء الكرد وصاحب منزل على خلفية تنظم مهرجان شعري والمجلس السياسي يستنكر هذه الاعتقالات Welatê Me, 21 December 2010.


One thought on “Kurdish poets to be tried in Syria

  1. Poşman im! Helbestvan û şaîr dilopên ava jiyanê.

    It is a tragedy that art and culture are the endangered victims of state insecurity. May these events generate their own art and a powerfully audible response…

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