Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Female student arrested and detained in Syria: Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani

Nineteen-year-old female student Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani was arrested at her home in Syria on 28 July. Apart from one phone call that day, she has been held without contact with the outside world since. There are fears for her safety as she is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

According to eyewitnesses, Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani, aged 19, was arrested from her home in Aleppo city on 28 July following clashes between security forces and armed opposition groups in the neighbourhood. On the day of her arrest Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani contacted her aunt, informing her she was being held at the Criminal Security branch in the Ashrafiya neighbourhood in Aleppo, also stating that she hoped she would be released in the next few days.

On 1 August, after hearing from an unofficial source that Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani had been transferred to the Air Force Intelligence branch in Aleppo, her aunt went to ask about her niece’s whereabouts and was told by officials at the branch to “forget about her”.

On 6 and 15 August, Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani’s aunt received calls from officials at the Criminal Security branch in Aleppo informing her that her niece was in their custody and asking for clothes and food to be brought for her. Although her aunt was able to deliver the food and items of clothing to the branch on both occasions, she was not able to see Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani in person. Relatives have not heard anything from officials regarding Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani’s fate or whereabouts since 15 August and it is unknown if she faces any charges.

International standards require that detainees’ families are notified promptly after their arrest and that detainees have access to lawyers of their choice throughout their detention and are allowed to communicate with their families

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language
n Expressing concern that Zilal Ibrahim al-Salehani has been held incommunicado since 28 July 2012 and urging the authorities to provide her with immediate access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical attention she may require;
n Calling on the Syrian authorities to release Zilal Ibrahim al-Salehani, unless she is promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and tried in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards;
n Calling on them to ensure that Zilal Ibrahim al-Salehani is protected from torture and other ill-treatment.

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

Ministry of Interior
Major General Mohamad Ibrahim al-Shaar
Ministry of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 311 0554
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Walid al-Mu’allim
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 214 6253 (keep trying)
Salutation: Your Excellence

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Additional Information
Thousands of suspected opponents of the government have been arrested in Syria since protests broke out in February 2011 and many, if not most, are believed to have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Amnesty International has the names of more than 470 people reported to have died in custody during this period and has documented many cases of torture or other ill-treatment. See ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/016/2012/en).

Although the vast majority of the human rights abuses documented by Amnesty International have been committed by the state’s armed forces and pro-government shabiha militias, abuses have also been committed by armed opposition groups. This includes the torture and killing of captured soldiers and shabiha militia members as well as the kidnapping and killing of people known or suspected to support or work with the government and its forces. Amnesty International condemns without reservation such abuses and has called on the leadership of all armed opposition groups in Syria to state publicly that such acts are prohibited and to do all in their power to ensure that opposition forces put an immediate stop to them.

Systematic and widespread human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and possible war crimes have become rife in Syria and documented by Amnesty International. See for example Civilians bearing the brunt in the battle for Aleppo (Index: MDE 24/073/2012), August 2012 (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/073/2012/en). Other bodies such as the UN independent international Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic have produced similar findings, including in their most recent report published on 15 August 2012. In light of this Amnesty International is continuing to call for the situation in Syria to be referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as an international arms embargo aimed at halting the flow of weapons to the Syrian government, and an assets freeze on President Bashar al-Assad and his close associates. The organization is also calling on states considering supplying weapons to the armed opposition to have in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure the material supplied is not used to commit human rights abuses and/or war crimes. The organization is also calling for an adequately resourced and strong international human rights monitoring mission in Syria with the capacity to effectively monitor, investigate and publicly report on all human rights abuses.

Name: Zilal Ibrahim al-Salhani

Gender m/f: f