Syria: Still no News of Political Activist From Homs who Disappeared in 2011
On 25 October 2011, Syrian political activist Mahmoud Al Merhi was arrested at an Air Force Intelligence checkpoint in Homs and remains disappeared since. Hoping that the United Nations’ intervention with the Syrian authorities will help shed light on his fate and whereabouts, on 16 January 2017, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians sent his case to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (WGEID).
A lawyer by profession, currently 59-year-old Al Merhi is a political activist and coordinator of the peaceful protests that took place in Homs, his hometown, in spring 2011. As the manifestations were violently repressed, its participants and organisers were arbitrarily arrested, subjected to torture and disappeared, such as in this case.
On 25 October 2011, Al Merhi was driving his car in Homs when he was stopped at checkpoint of the Air Force Intelligence near the Chamber of Commerce. The security officers, in military clothes, arrested him and took him to an unknown location.
His relatives inquired about his fate with different Syrian security services, including the Homs Air Force Intelligence, but to no avail. Subsequently, a former detainee informed them that he last saw him in Sednaya prison on 3 May 2012, in very bad health conditions.
“We are extremely concerned over the more than five-year long disappearance of Al Merhi, especially for his health and conditions of detention,” says Inès Osman, Alkarama legal officer responsible for Syria at Alkarama. “Sednaya prison, a military prison 30 kilometers north of Damascus, has become infamous for holding political activists and opponents to the regime as well as for the heavy use of torture within its walls. Once more, Alkarama calls upon the Syrian authorities to the end of the practice of torture and enforced disappearance, as demanded by several States during Syria’s last Universal Periodic Review (UPR ) on 31 October 2016.”
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