Founding Meeting. Lamentations are not sufficient.

Truth and Accountability in Syria

In Geneva, in the Palais des Nation, a public event was launched on the side of the forty-second session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) The event was initiated by Mr. Walter Stevens, head of the EU delegation to the UN under the title Truth and Accountability in Syria.

The Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) organized and sponsored this side event on Friday 9/9/2019, in cooperation with the Caesar Families Association

A group of representatives of the victims’ association participated in the event, along with the Syrian civil society organizations, through holding an open dialogue on the issues of truth and accountability regarding the victims of enforced disappearance whereas many ongoing political negotiations are avoiding talking about the kidnapped ,the forcibly disappeared, and those held in the detainees in the Syrian regime prisons, temporary detention centres and intelligence branches. Speakers discussed these issues and their social and political impacts and the views of legal and civil authorities on the effective methods to get out of the impasse. They expressed their opinions, and suggested the requirements that they hope to achieve through messages dispatched to the HRC addressing the conscience of the world.

A spokesman for the Caesar Families Association, Mr. Qutaiba Al-Mashaan, the brother of a victim who appeared in the Caesar Photos, said: “The families of the victims have the right to find the remains of their sons and daughters, by ensuring the access of independent and impartial bodies to prisons. However, it is obvious that the actions of decision-makers and those operating the Syrian blood bazaar will result in retaliation and negative reactions. The simplest reaction will be an increase in the hotbeds of extremism and terrorism.”.
Qutaiba called on the international community: to lend a hand to overcome this ordeal to enable every victim to have a grave worthy of them, and to be buried in a humane manner equivalent to their sacrifices.

Mr. Allam Fakhour, a conceptual artist and human rights activist from the Association of Detainees and Missing Persons of Sednaya (ADMSP), emphasised on the responsibility of the Syrian government in revealing the truth and the whereabouts of the detainees as well as ensuring the entry of impartial bodies to investigate. He described the tragic situation in the Syrian detention centres which he experienced first-hand during his awful imprisonment as a former detainee in Sednaya prison, the harshest and most notorious detention center, amongst regime’s prisons.

Wafa Mustafa, a representative of the Families for Freedom movement, spoke of the impact of enforced disappearance on women and young girls. She also called on the HRC to issue a decision regarding the case of enforced disappearance so that justice can be offered for all detainees, through holding the violators of human rights accountable, and making those responsible for crimes against humanity in Syria appear before international courts to have their due punishment.

Mr. Ahmed Helmi, a spokesman for Taafi Initiative of Kish Malek organization which supports survivors of detention and torture, recounted his experience that he lived in his small detention cell, which he shared with (62) other detainees, and how they got the luxury of being in a room with a small window so that the sun present them the gift of light during the day, and he explained that thousands of other detainees were deprived of this luxury.

Ahmad also described the moment when one of the detainees was called to attend at a field court and how happy the other detainees were for him despite knowing that his inevitable end is death. Nevertheless, he would get rid of his excruciating pain of torture in this damned place.

Al-Mu’tasim Billah Al-Keilani, the representative of SCM, the official sponsor of this event, commented on what has been mentioned and called for suing the perpetrators and holding them accountable not for the sake of revenge,rather, to prevent revenge. He considered that the Universal Jurisdiction, through which courts in Europe (Germany and France) prosecute in many cases added to the results of issuing arrest warrants against Syrian officials involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Universal Jurisdiction has provided a window of light that will give the victims and their representing associations a new hope; which was about to vanish due to despair.