Revive the Peace

Movement Network

The Public Statement on Prisoners in Syria October 2017


Tens of thousands of Syrians are disappeared. While armed groups have also captured and detained civilians, the Assad regime is responsible for the overwhelming majority of detentions, and there is no shortage of evidence on the terrible suffering of those imprisoned by the regime. Responsibility for this tragedy also lies with the parties negotiating Syria's future in Geneva and Astana, where voices from the democratic opposition are excluded, and with the larger international community, the member states of the United Nations, for failing to exert pressure on behalf of the detainees. In Assad's dungeons, which Amnesty International has characterized as extermination camps, detainees, among them women and children, are subjected to inhuman conditions, rape, torture and death. For the families of the disappeared, the uncertainty is also torture. It is unconscionable that the world remain silent in the face of these terrible crimes.

Silence is betrayal.

We will not participate in this betrayal.

 We declare our solidarity with Syria's detainees and disappeared both on principle and in recognition that the brutal repression of a democratic struggle by the Assad regime sows the seeds of violent extremism. We urge all anti-war, human rights and progressive activists to consider the August 2, 2017 letter to Mr. Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, by 169 Syrian civil society groups:

 "Syrian civil society activities are essential in the fight against extremism. Moderate voices – as we represent – have the power to push back against the extremist forces and fill the vacuum on the ground. But to be able to do so, we need the international community to protect our ability to assist and serve our people."

The alternative to the never-ending bloody farce of the War on Terror, as carried out by all state actors, from the US to Russia, from Israel to Iran and the Assad regime, and to violent sectarian terrorism, is unconditional solidarity with the struggles for human rights and democracy.

 We consider neglect of the demands raised by the 169 Syrian Civil Society Organizations in regards to detainees to be inexcusable:

 "Ensure that concrete progress on humanitarian access, the detainee file and forced displacement is at the heart of the Geneva negotiations. In particular, we call on you [Staffan de Mistura} to fulfil your mandate and ensure progress on the detainee file including by securing (i) a comprehensive plan for the release of detainees beyond small-scale prisoner exchanges; (ii) information about the fates of all Syrians forcibly disappeared; (iii) access by international monitors to all detention facilities; and (iv) a halt to execution orders, particularly in regime security and military facilities, as well as in those run by armed groups."

 The Assad regime has refused to even entertain the possibility of granting access for international monitors to Syrian detention centers, and we must conclude the regime's denial is confirmation of systematic gross violations of human rights.

 Given the failure of the negotiating parties and of the international community to act on behalf of the detained and disappeared, we raise our voices in solidarity with the forsaken and with their families.

 Recently five brave Syrian women, some former detainees themselves, who represented the grass-roots organization Families for Freedom, organized a vigil at the fourth round of the Geneva talks and presented a list of demands on the international community to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (…/statement-on-the-human-rights-situation…/).

We the undersigned support these demands:

 "1) the Syrian government and all warring parties to immediately release a list of names of all detainees, along with their current location and status, and to immediately stop torture. In the case of death of a detainee, a death certificate along with a report on causes of death and burial location must be presented to the families.

 2) the Syrian government to allow international humanitarian organizations to immediately deliver food and medical aid, and to grant access to international rights groups into detention facilities for a thorough monitoring of living conditions in order to guarantee that civil detention facilities meet healthy living standards.

 3) the Syrian government to abolish exceptional courts, especially field, war and counter-terrorism courts and guarantee fair trials."

 We the undersigned support the demands raised by Families for Freedom because they are fundamental to the human rights of the detained and their families. We do not consider these demands to be exhaustive. We stand for the release of all political prisoners and for justice for those tortured and murdered by the regime, or by armed groups.

 An injury to one is an injury to all. We stand in solidarity

Click here to see over 130 groups and individual signers

​adopted by RPM 10/24/17