Friday, November 06, 2015

Crimes Against Humanity

"[The Assad regime is implicated in an] insidious black market] to exploit Syrians searching for family members within Syria's] widespread and systematic enforced disappearances."
"As well as shattering lives, disappearances are driving a black market economy of bribery which trades in the suffering of families who have lost a loved one."
Philip Luther, Middle East program director, Amnesty International


Amnesty International is now accusing the Syrian President and his regime of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Syrians desperate to discover what has become of their family members through mysterious disappearances. An increase over the past several years of forced disappearances are now held to be geared toward financial gain. Also involved are people manipulating events to settle scores between themselves, turning neighbours in to authorities.

Missing are opponents of the government of Bashar al-Assad, held in crowded squalid government-affiliated facilities. The premises are noted for torture and executions. At lest 65,000 people, inclusive of 58,000 civilians, have 'disappeared' throughout the years of the civil war where a quarter-million Syrians are held to have died, and eleven million displaced, four million outside the country's borders.

That the government uses forced disappearances as a source of revenue reflects the reality that the Syrian economy has been massively deflated through over four years of brutal conflict. Since the start of the civil war, according to analysts, Syria's economy contracted by over half. Syrian authorities have been linked to middlemen and brokers charging huge fees to relay information on missing people.

Some people report having paid out tens of thousands in desperate attempts to find some information about the missing. Approaching authorities directly to enquire over the whereabouts of family members and friends can lead to the enquirers being detained as well, and never seen again. Detention and abduction is a method the Syrian government has put into use to effectively silence its critics.

Those detentions involve torture and when deemed suitable, extrajudicial executions.

Amnesty has called on the United Nations Security Council to take effective action, beyond calling for a halt to forced disappearances, already a resolution adopted in 2014, whose impact has been precisely nil. Security Council member Russia will be certain to express great enthusiasm over such a resolution.


Members of the Syrian armed group Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa hold positions against the Islamic State outside Ayn al-Issa, in the countryside of Raqqa province on Oct. 17. (Alice Martins/The Washington Post)

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