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Between prison and the grave - enforced disappearances in Syria
Tue 1 December 2015, 18:30 – 20:30 GMT
Each week in Syria, people are snatched from their homes, offices, cars and markets.
In just four years, tens of thousands of men, women and children have vanished at the hands of the government.
Thousands have died in filthy prisons around the country – a result of torture, disease and horrific conditions. Countless others are crammed into cells, including children as young as two.
Families search frantically for any information about their loved ones. They want to know why their son was taken, where their daughter is being held, if their brother is being tortured, whether their father is alive.
Someone knows the answer.
Families have a right to know: their loved ones are missing and they’re missed. The Syrian government's policy of subjecting thousands of people to enforced disappearance is used as both a means to crush opposition.
Amnesty’s latest Syria report - Between prison and the grave: Enforced disappearances in Syria - reveals that the Syrian authorities are profiting from widespread and systematic enforced disappearances amounting to crimes against humanity, through an insidious black market in which family members desperate to find out the fate of their disappeared relatives are ruthlessly exploited for cash.
The event will explore these issues and hear from Syrians with first-hand experience of detention and disappearance.
Bashar Farahat is originally from a small village in Idleb, studied medicine at Aleppo University and qualified as a medical doctor in 2008. After the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, he worked as a peaceful activist, a poet and provided medical help to other peaceful activists. As a result, he was arbitrarily detained by the Syrian authorities between July 2012 and January 2013 and between April and September 2013. Even after his release he continued to face persecution by the authorities: he was not allowed to return to work. Bashar eventually fled Syria for Lebanon when he received a conscription note for mandatory military service. He arrived in the UK in March 2015 through the UNHCR resettlement programme.
Follow Bashar on Twitter: @farhat_bashar
Bayan Sharbaji is originally from Darayya, near Damascus, Syria. She graduated from the Faculty of Sociology in 2009. As a peaceful activist, she was involved in the Syrian revolution from the very beginning and demonstrated with her friends and her family. Two of her brothers, Mohamed and Yahya, also political activists, took leading roles in the organization of peaceful protests against the government in Daraya. Both were arrested in September 2011 and remain in prison until now as a result of their activism.
She and her family fled Syria for Egypt in 2012 after the brutal campaign of repression of peaceful activists carried out by the Syrian authorities. Bayan is now based in the UK with her husband and three children and is preparing for a Master's degree in sociology.
Nicolette Boehland is a consultant researcher for Amnesty International and the author of the Amnesty report, Between prison and the grave: Enforced disappearances in Syria. She is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Previously, she was a Harvard Law Fellow at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), where she led a study on civilian involvement in war and conducted fieldwork for case studies on Bosnia, Libya, Gaza, and Somalia; a legal fellow at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul; a program manager for Save the Children in the West Bank and Gaza; a Fulbright scholar in Jordan, where she worked with CARE International to coordinate resources for Iraqi refugees; and a senior associate in the legal and policy office at Human Rights Watch. Nicolette Boehland has a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and English literature from Lewis & Clark College and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Follow Nicolette on Twitter: @ndboehland