Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Fears for missing Syrian activists

URGENT ACTION

Syrian activists Mohamed Bachir Arab and Ahmed Omar Azoz went missing from their home town of Aleppo, northern Syria, on 2 November. There are fears that they have been arrested and are being held in secret detention, in which case they would be at serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
Mohamed Bachir Arab, a doctor, told a friend on 2 November that he was going to meet with his friend Ahmed Omar Azoz. The same friend told Amnesty International that nobody has heard anything about either man since. All attempts to find out their whereabouts through unofficial contacts and recently released detainees have been unsuccessful. According to a contact, the authorities have not been in touch with either family about the two men, and the families have not asked the authorities directly as they are too afraid to do so. Similarly, as far as Amnesty International is aware, the authorities have made no public announcement about the whereabouts of the two men.
Both men were in hiding from the Syrian authorities at the time they went missing. Mohamed Bachir Arab went into hiding around six months ago after security forces, believed to be part of Syrian Military Intelligence, raided his home while he was out and confiscated his computer. Ahmed Omar Azoz went into hiding 10 days prior to going missing, when uniformed members of the security forces visited his family home looking for him. Both men have apparently been involved in the organization of peaceful protests in Aleppo and it is feared that, given this and the security forces’ recent interest in them, they have been arrested and are being held in secret detention. A number of other activists who have gone missing in recent months have later appeared in detention.
If the two men are in secret detention, they would be at serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment. If, in addition, they are being held solely in connection with peaceful pro-reform activities, Amnesty International would consider them prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your own language:
n        Expressing concern that Mohamed Bachir Arab and Ahmed Omar Azoz may have been arrested and are now being held in secret detention and calling on the authorities to immediately disclose any information they have about their whereabouts;
n        Calling for the two men, if they are in detention, to be protected from torture and other ill-treatment, allowed immediate contact with their families and a lawyer of their choice, and granted any medical care they may require;
n        Noting that, if, in addition, they are being held solely in connection with peaceful pro-reform activities, Amnesty International would consider them prisoners of conscience and call for their immediate and unconditional release.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 DECEMBER 2011 TO:
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URGENT ACTION
Fears for missing Syrian activists
Additional Information
Pro-reform demonstrations began in Syria in February 2011 and evolved into mass protests in mid-March. The protests have been largely peaceful, yet the Syrian authorities have responded in the most brutal manner in their efforts to suppress them. Amnesty International has obtained the names of more than 3,000 people reported to have died or been killed during or in connection with the protests since mid-March. Many are believed to have been shot by security forces using live ammunition while participating in peaceful protests or attending funerals of people killed in earlier protests.
Thousands of other people have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown locations at which torture and other ill-treatment are reported to be rife. Following an action plan agreed with the League of Arab States on 30 October 2011, the Syrian authorities pledged on 2 November to withdraw its troops from restive cities, free prisoners held in connection with the current events, and start talks with opposition groups.  Later, on 5 November, it announced that 553 detainees “who were involved in the events but whose hands were not stained with blood” had been released on that day. However, arrests of protesters and perceived supporters of the protests have continued since.
Over 100 people are reported to have died in detention in highly suspicious circumstances since 1 April. Some of the dead, who include children, were also mutilated either before or after death in particularly grotesque ways apparently intended to strike terror into the families to whom their corpses were returned.
Meanwhile, there have been increasing reports of deaths of members of the army and security forces in recent weeks. Many have allegedly been killed in clashes with the Free Syrian Army, formed in July and composed in part of defected armed forces personnel, and other individuals who have taken up arms with the stated intention of protecting their neighbourhoods against security operations.
Amnesty International was told that Mohamed Bachir Arab was previously arrested and charged in 2004 after organizing demonstrations at his university in Aleppo. He reportedly spent 11 months in prison.  
Name: Mohamed Bachir Arab and Ahmed Omar Azoz
Gender m/f: Both male

UA: 333/11 Index: MDE 24/074/2011 Issue Date: 10 November 2011

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