To mark the International Day of the Disappeared, Amnesty International has launched an art exhibition in Beirut entitled “Tens of Thousands”, which aims to raise awareness of the disappeared and missing people in Syria and give a voice to their families.
The exhibition brought to light some of the most tragic stories since the start of the conflict in Syria in which hundreds of thousands of people have been forcibly disappeared, especially by the Assad regime.
The exhibition featured items left behind by individuals who have been forcibly disappeared or abducted, as well as poems written by formerly detained poets describing their experiences in the Assad regime’s detention facilities. The poems included one that was written by Faraj Birqdar and titled “Debris” that Birqdar wrote while in detention in Sednaya Prison in 1995.
There was also a collection of portraits of women detainees by Syrian artist Azza Abou Rebieh. The portraits showed faces of female detainees such as Samira Khalil and Razan Zaitouna as well as Wael Hamada, Nazim Hammadi of the Violations Documentations Center in Syria. The collection also included a distinctive work of art titled “Whispering Wall “where visitors walked between two white blank walls. The work was inspired by the famous saying “walls have ears.”
“Forced disappearance is worse than any other violation as it affects the whole family and loved ones of the disappeared,” said Nour Ghazi Safadi, wife of renowned cyber activist and programmer Basil Khartbail, who was forcibly disappeared and executed by the Assad regime in 2015. “In addition to depriving the disappeared of freedom, the very existence of the disappeared is denied and their whereabouts is unknown. Even when the family of the disappeared person are informed about his death, they are not usually given the body or documents proving his death.”
Amnesty International will also launch an online campaigning platform to shine a light on those who have faced enforced disappearance and abduction in Syria and help families in their efforts to find their loved ones. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Al-Hayat Newspaper)