The Astana working group on detentions and abductions in the Syrian conflict should take immediate steps to address the Assad regime’s arbitrary detentions, torture of detainees, and enforced disappearances, 11 human rights organizations said in a joint letter on Friday.
On September 7, 2018, the presidents of Turkey, Russia, and Iran will hold their third meeting to discuss the Syrian conflict. The working group, which was set up by the three countries and included representatives from their foreign ministries, should ensure that detentions and abductions are on the agenda of the meeting, the groups said.
The letter, signed by 11 organizations, expressed concern at the Assad regime’s failure to disclose more information about the deaths of arbitrarily detained and disappeared persons after it updated civil registries records to reflect their deaths.
The letter called on the working group to clarify the steps it would take to ensure Assad regime provide more information on the fates of those disappeared, detained and abducted; deliver the remains of those declared dead to the families; and allow access for international monitors to formal and informal detention facilities where thousands remain detained and at risk of torture and ill-treatment.
The Syrian Coalition’s National Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons on Thursday held a press conference in Istanbul on the death of detainees under torture in the prisons of the Assad regime and the responsibility of the international community towards this issue.
The Commission called upon all parties of the international community to take urgent and extraordinary measures to protect detainees and exert real pressure on the Assad regime to force it to stop its atrocious crimes against detainees in its prisons.
Last week, the Families for Freedom Movement, a rights advocacy group, organized sit-in protests in several countries around the world to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances to draw attention to the issue of detainees and enforced disappearances in the prisons of the Assad regime.
“The Astana guarantors have promised to address the enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions that have marked the Syrian conflict for seven years,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “They can address these horrors on September 7 by demanding justice for the disappeared and wrongly detained, and their families.”
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) earlier uncovered new evidence about the Assad regime’s responsibility for enforced disappearances in Syria. According to figures compiled by the monitoring group, there were 81,000 people who were forcibly disappeared by the Assad regime between March 2011 and August 2018.
In a report released on August 27, the Network said that the Assad regime indicted itself by admitting its responsibility for enforced disappearances after having recently confirmed the death of 836 detainees in its prisons. It said that the Assad regime’s manipulation of the civil registry records confirmed its responsibility for thousands of kidnappings in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)