Up to 28,000 Syrian wives, husbands, mothers and fathers have been abducted from the streets or their homes by government forces since the country’s uprising began 19 months ago. A new film by the human rights organization Avaaz has the evidence.
Many of the missing are considered dead while others are believed to be held and tortured in prisons and secret detention centers. Soldiers can be seen grabbing two women walking down a street in black abayas in one scene from the video below, released earlier this month. Friends and relatives are afraid to speak out. As a result, few know the fate of their loved ones and opposition to the Assad regime has chilled.
“There is video where we can see clearly, security forces or the army snatching people from the streets,” human rights activist Wissam Tarif says. “They are not fighters. They are peaceful protesters. They are people who supported the peaceful movement, and they vanished.”
Alice Jay, Avaaz’s campaign director, said: “Syrians are being plucked off the street by Syrian security forces and paramilitaries and being ‘disappeared’ into torture cells. Whether it is women buying groceries or farmers going for fuel, nobody is safe.
“This is a deliberate strategy to terrorise families and communities – the panic of not knowing whether your husband or child is alive breeds such fear that it silences dissent. The fate of each and every one of these people must be investigated and the perpetrators punished.”