Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Injured Syrian tortured, life in danger: Osama al-Habaly

URGENT ACTION – INJURED SYRIAN TORTURED, LIFE IN DANGER Mortar shell survivor Osama al-Habaly has been held incommunicado in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance, since his arrest – reportedly by the Syrian Military Intelligence – at the Syrian-Lebanese border on 18 August. Local sources claim he has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. He has life-threatening injuries. On 18 August, Osama al-Habaly was arrested at a Syrian-Lebanese Border Control Unit near the village of Tell- Kalakh, western Syria. He was on his way home from Lebanon, where he had undergone several operations as a result of critical injuries he sustained after he was hit by a mortar shell on 4 April.

The Syrian authorities have not given any reasons for Osama al-Habaly’s arrest, or told his family of his whereabouts, his state of health, or if charges had officially been brought against him; this is in violation of international law. The family first learned about his whereabouts in August from a recently released detainee, who said that Osama al-Habaly was tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in the Military Intelligence branch in the city of Homs, central Syria. Last week, another source told the family that he had been transferred to a Military Intelligence branch in Damascus, where he has also been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

Osama al-Habaly had four operations to remove several metal fragments from his head and body – a result of the mortar shell attack. However, a few other pieces of shrapnel, including one positioned in his neck near the carotid artery, remain in his body and doctors have recommended that they be removed to avoid serious health complications. Osama al-Halaby should immediately be transferred to hospital for urgent medical assessment and care.
Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your own language: n Urging the Syrian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of Osama al-Habaly, and ensure that he is transferred to hospital where he is provided with all necessary medical care, is protected from torture or other ill-treatment, and is given immediate access to his family and lawyer; n Asking for clarification of Osama al-Habaly’s legal status, and calling on the authorities to release him immediately if he is not to be charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence, and tried according to international fair trial standards; n Calling on the Syrian authorities to promptly set up an independent and impartial investigation into the apparent torture or other ill-treatment of Osama al-Habaly and to bring anyone found responsible for abuses to justice.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 4 DECEMBER 2012 TO: President Bashar al-Assad Fax: +963 11 332 3410 (keep trying) (fax/phone line – say "Fax") (Fax is the only reliable communication method; please do not send letters) Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Defence ‘Imad al-Fraij Fax: +963 11 223 7842 (keep trying) +963 11 666 2460 (keep trying) (fax/phone line – say "Fax") (Fax is the only reliable communication method; please do not send letters) Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid al-Mu’allim Fax: +963 11 214 6253 (keep trying) (fax/phone line – say "Fax") (Fax is the only reliable communication method; please do not send letters) Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION According to family and friends, Osama al-Habaly was hit with a mortar shell on 4 April while driving to his home in Homs’s al- Khaldiya neighbourhood – a Sunni neighbourhood targeted with intensive shelling by the Syrian authorities, particularly in February 2012 to drive out the armed opposition. As a result he sustained severe injuries and paralysis in his right hand and his neck. He was taken to Lebanon for medical treatment.
Thousands of suspected opponents of the government have been arrested in Syria since pro-reform 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 some 650 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).
Since protests broke out, the situation has evolved into an internal armed conflict throughout much of the country. 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 abduction and killing of people known or suspected to support or work with the government and its forces, or the taking of civilians as hostages to try to negotiate prisoner swaps. 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, including crimes against humanity and possible war crimes have become rife in Syria, where civilians are the main victims. Amnesty International has documented numerous examples, most recently in documents such as Syria: Indiscriminate attacks terrorize and displace civilians, Index: MDE 24/078/2012, 19 September 2012 (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/078/2012/en). Other bodies such as the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic have made similar findings.
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. The organization is also calling for 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. Additionally, states considering supplying weapons to the armed opposition should have in place the necessary mechanisms to ensure the material supplied is not used to commit human rights abuses and/or war crimes. The Syrian government should also allow the international independent commission of inquiry, and international human rights and humanitarian organizations, unfettered access to the country.
Name: Osama al-Habaly Gender m/f: m