Syrian activists & lawyers fear at least 28,000 forced disappearances in Syria
Human rights groups working inside Syria estimate that between 28,000 to 80,000 Syrians have been forcibly disappeared by the Assad regime over the past 19 months. This comes as Avaaz today releases testimony from family members who have had husbands, sons and daughters forcibly disappeared by the regime.
This practice continues. Here are three recent cases reported to Avaaz by family members of those disappeared:
Roula*, a woman from Homs, was snatched by security forces while out buying groceries in September 2012.
Mohammad Abdulrahman*, a peaceful Homs activist, was dragged out of his home in front of his wife and young children in September 2012.
Abu Yaser*, a farmer, was taken at a military checkpoint in August 2012 on his way to buy heating fuel.
Alice Jay, campaign director at Avaaz, said Syrians were being "plucked off the street by security forces and paramilitaries and being 'disappeared' into torture cells".
"Whether it is women buying groceries or farmers going for fuel, nobody is safe."
She said it was a deliberate strategy to "terrorise families and communities", and that each case must be investigated.
"The panic of not knowing whether your husband or child is alive breeds such fear that it silences dissent," she said.
Other Syrian rights groups backed the allegations. Fadel Abdulghani, of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, estimated that 28,000 people had disappeared since unrest against the government of President Bashar al-Assad began last year.
Muhannad al-Hasani, of human rights organisation Sawasya, said the figure could be as high as 80,000.
"People are being snatched at night, on the street and when no-one is looking," he said.
Muhammad Khalil, a human rights lawyer from the Syrian city of Hassaka, said the Syrian government had two reasons for carrying out the abductions: "To directly get rid of the rebels and activists, and to intimidate the society so that it won't oppose the regime."
Avaaz collected its statistics through a network of independent human rights lawyers and local activist groups in Syria.
The scale of the work and the current instability meant the organisation could not independently verify each disappearance, but it confirmed to the BBC that none of the detentions listed had been official arrests.
Most of the people Avaaz spoke to had personally witnessed a friend or relative being taken from home or the street.......more