Syria: 3 Family Members Disappear After Arrest Between July 2011 and August 2012
On 25 November 2011, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians sent a communication to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) regarding the case of 49-year-old retired policeman Khalid Zain, his 29-year-old son Mohammad Zain and another family member, 30-year-old Abdallah Zain. They all disappeared after their respective arrests between July 2011 and August 2012.
On 9 July 2011, members of the Military forces dressed in civilian clothes stormed into Khalid's shop in Aleppo and arrested Khalid and his cousin for allegedly participating in uprisings against the government, but without presenting a warrant. Both men were held at the Military Security in Aleppo for 12 days, after which they were transferred to the Air Force Intelligence local branch. They remained there until the end of the year, when Khalid's cousin was released following an amnesty law. Since then, no one in Khalid's family has received any news from him, despite having inquired about his whereabouts with the Governor of Aleppo, the police chief of Aleppo and the head of the Al Ba'ath party in Aleppo.
On 6 January 2012, six months after Khalid's arrest, members of the Military Security dressed in civilian clothes stormed into the headquarters of mobile company MTN, in the Al-Jamila neighbourhood in Aleppo, and arrested his son, Mohammad Zain, taking him to an unknown location. After Mohammad's arrest, his family inquired about his whereabouts in several security branches in Aleppo, but to no avail.
Later in 2012, on 16 August, another member of Khalid's family, Abdallah Zain, was in the Bab Sharqi district in Damascus when members of the Popular Committees – a militia that merged into the National Defence Force of the Syrian Army in 2012 – arrested him and took him to an unknown location. After his arrest, members of the Popular Committees contacted Abdallah's family and demanded 1 million Syrian Liras for his release. The family was not able to deliver the right amount and the Popular Committees handed him over to an unknown security branch. After Abdallah's arrest, his family appointed a lawyer to help disclose his whereabouts, but without success.
Left without any resort at the national level, the Zain family contacted Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians, hoping that these human rights organisations could help shed light on the fate of their family members. The organisations then seized the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), asking it to call upon the Syrian authorities to immediately release Khalid, Mohammad and Abdallah or, at the very least, to put them under the protection of the law by disclosing their whereabouts and allowing their families to visit them without restriction.
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