As part of the campaign the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) has launched in partnership with the Syrian Interim Government and its executive arms in the liberated areas, Coordinator of the Department of Foreign Relations, Abdulhahad Astepho, sent a letter to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the SOC’s demands from the European Council. The Council will meet today, Monday, with the meeting bringing together foreign ministers of European Union at a teleconference.
Astepho gave an overview of the health and humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the liberated areas which is going through a humanitarian disaster as a result of the recent onslaught by Russia and the Assad regime which has led to the largest displacement movement since 2011. He also outlined the measures taken by the Syrian Interim Government to confront the coronavirus pandemic.
Astepho said that the risk of the coronavirus outbreak in the liberated areas makes it imperative that the international community and the European Union take swift action to address the dangers facing civilians. He said that the destruction of residential homes forced millions of civilians to live in overcrowded camps or in the open, which makes the isolation process almost impossible.
Moreover, Astepho pointed out that the necessary means to prevent the spread of the pandemic are scarce or almost non-existent after Russia and the Assad regime have destroyed the majority of the medical centers and after donors stopped supporting the medical sector in Idlib province.
The detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime are at the same risk, as the pandemic does not pose a threat to civilians only, Astepho said. He added that the Assad regime's brutality against detainees risk spreading the pandemic among the detainees, especially that the prisons are overcrowded with the detainees.
The letter touched on the political process, as Astepho stressed the need to work for the advancement of a political solution in accordance with the UN resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique of 2012. He warned that the continued inaction in finding a solution will lead to more crises that may affect the European Union countries themselves, citing the latest wave of asylum seekers at the Greek border. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
Coordinator of the National Commission for the Defense of the Detainees and Missing Persons, Yasser Al-Farhan, said that the latest decree the Assad regime issued regarding the detainees “is similar to the previous ones.” He emphasized that the regime continues “with the selectivity of the crimes covered by these decrees, the restrictions with exceptions that narrow its enforcement and subject it to politicization, and to the judiciary’s assessment which is mostly subject to the dictates of the security apparatuses."
Al-Farhan pointed out that the Assad regime is resorting to conceit as it is trying to respond to the demands of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) to release the detainees in order to avert the danger of an outbreak of the coronavirus among detainees.
The reasons behind issuing these decrees are the selection of specific convicts for amnesty and the selection of specific criminal offenses to release the perpetrators, Al-Farhan added.
He went on to say that the Assad regime is trying to mobilize the armed forces by returning army deserters and subjecting the convicts to recruitment and reserve military service by selecting deserters to include loyalist deserters for reasons related to the length of service, its difficulties and risks, without including defectors for political, ethical, functional and national reasons.
Al-Farhan pointed out that the decree will allow the regime to generate revenues through judicial fees and amounts due, in addition to allowing the loyalists to earn money through brokering and bribery.
Moreover, he pointed out that the regime is trying to send messages to the international community that it pays attention on the refugee crisis and to suggest that it can play a vital role in their return, as well as pressuring the refugees and intimidating them into not returning.
Al-Farhan said that the Assad regime wants to use the amnesty decree to claim that it is working to create the safe environment needed for elections and reconstruction. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)