05 September 2016

Syria: A 17-Year-old Student Abducted by the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit

On 1 March 2015, Moshen Al Hinnawi was running away from the fights between the Kurdish forces of the People's Protection Unit (YPG) and the Islamic State (IS) in the surroundings of his village in Al Hasakah governorate in Syria, when reached a YPG military checkpoint, where he was arrested. After this, his family lost track of him and their inquiries with the Kurdish authorities were ignored. As Al Hinnawi remains disappeared to date, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians referred his case to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI Syria).

On 1 March 2015, Al Hinnawi, a 17-year old high school student from Ghariqa Fawkani, a village close to Al Qahtaniyah, in northeastern Syria, was escaping from his hometown as the area was a battlefield between the IS and YPG, with the YPG conquering new territories. Once near the neighbouring village of Khoetla, Al Hinnawi reached a YPG military checkpoint, where he was arrested.

Left with no information about her son after his arrest, Al Hinnawi's mother inquired about his fate with the YPG authorities in detention centres in Al Yaarubiyah, Al Malikiyah, Amuda and Ras Al Ayn; and even submitted an official complaint to the YPG Anti-Terrorism Court, but no avail. She however got to know though informal sources that her son was indeed detained by the YPG, including at a certain point in Al Yaarubiah prison, but she was never officially provided any information on his fate and whereabouts up until today.

"The case of Al Hinnawi is another example of the abductions carried out by the YPG in their fight against the IS and fits into a broader pattern of abuses committed by the Kurdish forces in retaliation against the civilian population they perceived as supporting the IS," comments Inès Osman, Alkarama's Legal Officer for the Mashreq. "The YPG has a legal and moral duty to put an end to these practices as belligerent reprisals are prohibited. This not only because they are subject to international humanitarian and human rights law but especially since the Charter of the Social Contract – the constitutional law adopted in January 2014 by the Kurdish authorities – foresees the applicability of international human rights instruments to the Kurdish administered territories."

Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians thus referred Al Hinnawi's case to the CoI Syria established by a Resolution of the Human Rights Council on 22 August 2011 to investigate "all alleged violations of international human rights law [in Syria] since March 2011" and to ensure that "perpetrators of violations, including those that may constitute a crime against humanity, are held accountable."

For more information or an interview, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Dir: +41 22 734 1008).

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