- Life Style
Paris--Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the death of former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad's and the nomination of his son Bashar for presidency, a number of Syrian human rights researchers backed by Freedom House have released a report on the situation of citizens forcibly disappeared within the country's prisons.
The report concentrates on forced disappearances over the last three decades (1979-2009) primarily as a human rights issue, but also as an issue that relates to democratic change.
The authors of the report believe the situation of the prisoners must be raised internationally. They also say dealing with the issue will help Syria along the path to democracy and demonstrate openness on the part of the regime.
However, according to the report, democratic transition cannot happen unless a set of conditions are met. These include the government accepting the report's findings as true, the formation of a fact-finding commission to investigate violations against each individual prisoner, public announcement of the findings of the commission, delivery of the corpses of the dead prisoners to their families, the provision of compensation and an official apology, and the reform of both law and institutions—in particular Syrian security and intelligence.
Around 17,000 were lost in the Tadmur Prison Massacre in 1980. Sixteen thousand others are thought to have been systematically killed, according to the report, which further details how more than a million Syrians have suffered government discrimination and penal measures due to their links with the missing persons. Women, the report says, became the main victims of the disappearances.
Among those targeted were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, communists, Palestinian organizations, Jordanians, Lebanese, and some Iraqis, the report says.
Syrian and international rights groups have not paid the issue enough attention, but, in the case of Syrian organizations, this is due to their recent formation and lack of experience, the report adds.
Over a period of 30 years, only 24 cases from among 17,000 have been officially reported, because Syrian citizens do not know how to report such disappearances, according to the report, which mentions that just one lawyer, detainee Haytham al-Maleh, dared to file a lawsuit against two major generals, but the case was eventually dropped.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.