Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Enforced disappearance of Syrian Man

14 December 2011

Forty-four year old Wa’el Khattab was arrested on 14 August during the ongoing popular protests in Syria. He has had no contact with his family since. He appears to have been subjected to an enforced disappearance by the Syrian authorities. His life is in danger.

Wa’el Khattab was last seen on 14 August 2011 at the state-run cement factory where he worked as a mechanical engineer. According to his brother-in-law, who is no longer in Syria, eyewitnesses at the factory told Wa’el Khattab’s relatives that he was arrested at the factory by men who stated they were members of the Air Force Intelligence.

The authorities have not since contacted Wa’el Khattab’s family to tell them where they are holding him or the reason for his arrest, The family are too frightened to ask the authorities directly about his whereabouts.  A detainee recently released from al-Mezzeh prison in Damascus informed the family that Wa’el Khattab was transferred there on 17 August but did not provide further details about his wellbeing.

Wa’el Khattab is being held in conditions amounting to an enforced disappearance, placing him at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, and putting his life in danger. There are also concerns for Wa’el Khattab’s health as he is asthmatic and requires medication for regular asthma attacks.

Amnesty International has received reports that Wa’el Khattab may have been involved in the popular protests in Hama. 
Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your own language:
?             Express concern that Wa’el Khattab appears to have been subjected to an enforced disappearance since his arrest on 14 August and calling on the authorities immediately to disclose his whereabouts and any charges brough against him;
?             Call for Wa’el Khattab to be protected from torture and other ill-treatment, allowed access to his family and a lawyer of his choice and provided with all necessary medical care;
?             Call for Wa’el Khattab to be released immediately and unconditionally if he is a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Otherwise he should be charged with a recognizable criminal offence and brought to trial in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards.


Bashar al-Assad               
Presidential Palace
al-Rashid Street               
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic               
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Salutation: Your Excellency

Ministry of Interior
His Excellency Major General Mohamad Ibrahim al-Shaar
Minister of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 113110554
Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to:
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Walid al-Mu’allim            
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic               
Fax: +963 11 214 6251/2/3


Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
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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 3,800 people reported to have died or been killed since mid-March. The majority of them 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. Members of the security forces have also been killed, some by defecting members of the army who have taken up arms against the government.

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. Over 170 people are reported to have died in custody in highly suspicious circumstances since 1 April 2011, 11 of which are from the town of Hama. 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. For further information, please see Syria: Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria, Index MDE 24/035/2011,31 August 2011  at the following link http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/035/2011/en
The town of Hama has been the subject of a brutal crackdown by the Syrian authorities since demonstrations began. It suffered a particularly bloody military operation during the month in August 2011, coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan.  During this time, the town was under siege and the residents of Hama endured daily raids, during which houses were attacked and many were arrested.  Wa’el Khattab, aged 44, has been working as a mechanical engineer at the state-run cement factory in Hama for 10 years. He is married and has a son.
Name: Wa’el Khattab
Gender m/f: Male