The Syrian National Commission for Detainees and Missing Persons held a panel discussion on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared. Ex-detainees as well as workers in the field of documentation and defense of the rights of detainees and human rights took part in the discussion.
Chairman of the Commission, Yasser Al-Farhan, talked about the importance of releasing and disclosing the fate of all detainees and the forcibly disappeared people in the prisons of the Assad regime. He pointed out that the Commission is seeking to step up communications with international organizations to "convey the voice of the voiceless."
Farhan stressed that resolving the issue of detainees will be difficult without achieving a full political transition in Syria. He said that the Assad regime have become accustomed to the sight of blood, adding that it will commit more crimes as a career criminal. He cited the enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests taking place in the areas that saw forced “reconciliation” agreements across Syria.
Participants in the discussion listened to testimonies of ex-detainees who spoke about the horrors and inhumane violations taking place in the prisons of the Assad regime, stressing that the issue of the disappeared and detainees is still a priority requiring effective action to ensure their release.
At the end of the discussion, the participants agreed to send letters to the international community including proposals for new mechanisms for redressing victims and preventing impunity as well as stressing the need to disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared and abdictees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
The letters also demanded the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court, stressing that accountability is an essential part of the political solution that was spelled out in the international resolutions, especially the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN resolution 2254. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian National Coalition deplored the “shameful international inaction towards the Assad regime’s crimes and horrific violations of human rights” in a press release issued on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared which falls on August 30.
“Enforced disappearance was a key part of the Assad regime's policy to eliminate the prominent activists, along with killings, forced displacement, detention and torture,” the Coalition said.
The Coalition also said that “the Assad regime has long used enforced disappearance as a means to spread terror and instill fear in the hearts of the Syrian people with the aim of breaking their will and discouraging them from carrying on with the revolution.”
“These actions, including enforced disappearance, affected all vulnerable social groups, especially women, children and the elderly.”
“An estimated 85,000 people have been forcibly disappeared by the Assad regime since the start of the revolution,” the Coalition said, adding that about 400 cases of enforced disappearance were documented in last July alone, including refugees who were detained and forcibly disappeared by the Assad regime after returning to Syria.
“The litany of crimes the Assad regime committed over the past years amounts to the worst and most horrible crimes in our modern era.”
The Coalition went on: “Articles 1, 2 and 5 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance criminalize enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity under international law. They stress that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”
Moreover, the Coalition reiterated the need for the UN Security Council to follow up on the enforcement of its relevant resolutions, most importantly resolutions 2042, 2043 and 2139, especially the provisions on enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, and torture of detainees.
“We stress the need for effective states to shoulder their responsibilities with regards to putting an end to these systematic crimes which must be referred to the International Criminal Court and those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria since 2011 be held accountable.” (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary General of the Syrian National Coalition’s political committee, Riyad al-Hassan, on Friday stressed that resuming the political process in Syria is "a step in the right direction." However, he warned of the failure to enforce the provisions of UN resolution 2254 calling for a ceasefire, the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need, and the release of detainees.
Al-Hassan pointed out that the Assad regime and its allies’ continued crimes against civilians in the ‘de-escalation zone’ in northwestern Syria will render the political process "meaningless." He added that this process "will reach a deadlock as was the case in the past years in Geneva because of the regime's rejection of any progress towards a political solution and its insistence on pursuing a bloody military solution.”
The Coalition reiterates the calls for the implementation of international resolutions, especially the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN resolution 2254 which stated in its fifth article that it “acknowledges the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process.”
Al-Hassan went on to say that a ceasefire should enter into force with the launch of the Constitutional Committee which the UN envoy Geir Pedersen said it may convene soon in his briefing to the UN Security Council on Thursday. Such measure will be one the confidence-building measures stipulated in the UN resolution 2254 along with Articles 13 and 14 which called for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the release of detainees.
In his briefing to the UN Security Council, Pederson said that the differences over the launch of the Constitutional Commission has become minimal as he expected the Committee will convene before the end of September.
Pederson also said that an agreement had been reached on the appointment of two joint chairmen for the Committee, with one of them representing the Syrian opposition. He noted that the launch of the Committee must be accompanied by measures that have an impact on the ground, including progress in the issue of detainees and the forcibly disappeared. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)