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17000 Syrian Prisoners Disappeared, Human Rights says
The London – based Syrian Committee for Human Rights released its annual report on the freedoms in Syria at a time when the status and number of thousands of detainees are shrouded in mystery without their families knowing anything about them for tens of years.
Wednesday, June 28,2006 00:00
by Mohamed Aly, Ikhwanweb

The London – based Syrian Committee for Human Rights released its annual report on the freedoms in Syria at a time when the status and number of thousands of detainees are shrouded in mystery without their families knowing anything about them for tens of years. Ikhwanweb had an interview with Committee Chairman Walid Safour, which ran as follows:


1- A historical Background on the committee and its activities ?

  A host of nationals concerned with the status of human rights in Syria saw freedoms deteriorating especially with the policy adopted by former president Hafez Assad who meant with such measures to wipe out any trend of opposition from the Syrian map, something which had serious repercussions, with the Syrian society becoming in turmoil as a result. The committee was set up in 1997, and it works on four main tracks: First, to monitor human rights abuses and expose the violations of the international laws and conventions, especially the World Declaration of Human Rights and the UN human rights related covenants.  Second, to conduct researches and reports on  brutalities and massacres which the country came under at the reign of president Hafez  Assad and the ensuing repercussions which took the lives of thousands of families while another 17000 are still missing in prisons and detention centers . Third, to spread awareness among citizens and help them to know their rights. Fourth, to aid and rehabilitate those who came under these brutalities and repressions, especially those who suffered forced displacement and those released from prisons, as well as cases of disappearances in the Syrian prisons.


2- What is the mechanism do you adopt to issue this report?

The annual report on the human rights in Syria is one of the main releases which follow up the track of human rights in Syria, with the committee researchers gathering and analyzing materials which reflect the regime’s latest attitude and the reactions of the Syria people.


 3- What are the sources of your information?

 We count on a massive network of our members in Syria, the Arab world, Europe and North American. All our members are volunteers who furnish our committee with information, contributions, expertise and reports. Besides, the committee cooperates with the Syrian sister committees concerned with human rights, in addition that we have good ties with other international organizations such as the Amnesty International and others. The number of the committee members is on the rise in spite of the manhunts and apprehensions on the part of the Syrian authorities which include denying the Syrians any access to our website.


 4- Why June 27th in particular?

 This day marks the anniversary of the massacre perpetrated against Syrians in Tadmor Prison in 1980 when the Syrian regime forces stormed the prison and killed about 1000 of the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters who represented the crème de le crème of the Syrian society, including teachers, doctors, engineers, university graduates, workers and farmers.


5 – Why did the report ignore the issue of the missing prisoners?

 The report stressed this issue when it dealt with the law 49 for 1980. It is believed that these missing prisoners, estimated over 17000, disappeared in the interrogation centers and security and intelligence prisons, or died due to malnutrition and absence of health care within prisons in specific periods. The report established these brutalities and the literature written on them.

 6- Does the committee take any legal measures vis a vis the cases included in the report?


 The committee puts the Syrian and international public opinion in the picture about any human rights abuses in Syria, spurring the society into rejecting injustice and encroachment on their rights, but legal measures are difficult now that the regime continues its repressive policy against the Syrian people. Suffice it to say that a Syrian lawmaker sent a message to president Bashar calling on him put any end to the human rights abuses in Syria and launching reforms in the country. Now this fellow is tried before an extrajudicial military court on charges of slandering the president.

 7- Does the committee intend to lodge lawsuits before the international courts against the Syrian regime?


 The problem is that such cases need a massive fund raising campaign to finance them. Besides, many of those perpetrators of human rights abuses are either government officials immune against any trials in Syria, or those who enjoy privileges and protection in the countries they stay in. For example, while the Spanish attorney general moved heaven and earth to try general Pinochet and Tayseer Alouny, he failed to do the same with Riffat el Assad the perpetrators of many massacres in Syria although he stays in Spain.


 8- Do you see any improvement in the area of human rights in Syria at the era of President Bashar?


 When he was sworn in as president, he introduced himself as a reform advocate, and many felt optimistic about this, but after months we found ourselves back to square one, with the campaign of repressions and imprisonments being on the rise.


  9- Do you see this report reinforce the western pressures on the Syrian regime?


   The committee doesn’t count much on the western pressures out of our conviction that the West always gives priority to its own interests. Consequently they have nothing to do with the Syrian people and its human rights or democracy. Nor is this all, the West provides protection for the regime regardless of the agonies and repressions befalling the Syrian people. However, the report is a very important reference to all government and NGOs centers as it deals with the situation in a frank and subjective way away from any internal or external pressures.

tags: Syrian Prisoners / Human Rights / London / freedom
Posted in Interviews  
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