My brother told me…

My name is Oula al-Ghafeer, I’m from Idlib though I have lived in Germany since 2016. In Syria I was studying French literature. But after 2011, when the regime escalated their attacks on Idlib and put up checkpoints everywhere, I had to give up on my dream of graduating from the university.

I have four brothers and three sisters and we are all used to living in Idlib, currently each one of us is in a different place. 

When I remember my family growing up, my brother Mohamad Taha is always the first to come to my mind. He was  the person in the family who always loved to bring us together. Everything has changed since he disappeared from the Syrian regime in May 2012.

He was 12 years older than me, and we were very close, even if we would sometimes argue. Now that I am older, I realise that  he was right in every argument we had about my life decisions and he always wanted the best for me. 

He was a barber and he worked as well as a taxi driver. He was simple and modest and he wanted to have a happy life and start his own family. He got married and he had three children, two boys and a girl.

In May, 2015 I learned about his death through Ceasar photos. My heart still aches every time I remember seeing that photo. There are not enough words in the world to explain that pain and the loss we had to face. 

Our demand today as a family is not only for justice and accountability for Mohamad Taha. We also want to save the rest, the hundreds of thousands of the missings in Syria who can still be saved. No other families should suffer what we lived through. Today more than ever, we believe we must speak up, continuing with the demands that my brother Mohamad Taha made in 2011, along with millions of other Syrian men and women: for freedom, justice and accountability.