Since the start of the popular protests in March 2011, that drew a brutal response from the Syrian authorities, leading to internal armed conflict in Syria, thousands of civilians are reported to have been arrested, detained, abducted, tortured or otherwise ill-treated and, in some cases, subjected to enforced disappearance merely for exercising their fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association; or for providing basic medical care to the sick and wounded and humanitarian assistance to civilians.
These peaceful actors, among whom are human rights defenders and political activists, media workers and citizen journalists, and medical workers, have been targeted by government forces and pro-government militias, and increasingly, by non-state armed groups.
Thousands of civilians are reported to continue to be held incommunicado, or subjected to enforced disappearances, their families unsure of their fate, well-being and whereabouts. Others have been referred by government authorities to an Anti-Terrorism Court or military field courts where they are denied the right to a fair trial. The cases highlighted on this website represent a small fraction of the total number of those detained arbitrarily by the authorities or abducted by non-states armed groups.
Our international campaign ‘Free Syria’s Silenced Voices’ calls for the release of all those civil society actors, media and medical workers arbitrarily detained and calls for accountability for those responsible for these violations. But we need you to help us Free Syria’s silenced voices!
Amnesty International, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, FIDH, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have come together to work jointly, with other international, regional and Syrian organizations, to campaign for the release of civil society activists, media and medical workers arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared in Syria, through documentation, raising awareness, advocacy and mobilization.
The organizations will also welcome partnerships with other international, regional and above all Syrian human rights organisations working on these issues.
This campaign will use a three-pronged strategy to support the release of civil society activists, media and medical workers arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared solely for the legitimate exercise of their rights or for providing medical or humanitarian assistance.
1/ Research and Documentation
The organizations taking part in this project will continue to conduct extensive research to document individual cases of targeted repression by government forces and pro-government militias and non-state armed groups.
Each organization will submit cases to a vetting committee composed of members of partner organizations who will decide whether the case complies with the criteria defined for the campaign. However, the overall responsibility for accuracy of research of each case remains with the organization that carries out the research.
Information about cases will be used to provide up-to-date and verified documentation of civil society activists, media and medical workers detained and/or disappeared in Syria.
The collected information will be provided to relevant mechanisms for the protection of human rights, for example UN bodies such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and used for advocacy purposes when possible.
While the media coverage of Syria increasingly focuses on violence and the fighting between the armed protagonists, this campaign seeks to expand international awareness of violations against civil society activists, media and medical workers and inform the international community and public opinion about their fate and tell their stories so that their voices will not be silenced.
The campaign also seeks to express solidarity with these actors and inform public opinion about their key role in Syria’s society.
The partner organizations undertake different advocacy initiatives targeting influential political stakeholders for their support and actions for the release of civil society activists, media and medical workers detained and/or disappeared in Syria.
The campaign also seeks to mobilize public opinion on these issues through various events and initiatives. More information on campaigning events will be shared on this website shortly, so keep checking in!
Partnership with other international, regional and, above all, Syrian human rights organisations working on these issues, is strongly valued and will be extended gradually. Among them:
- Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)
- Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos)
- PEN International
- Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
- Violations Documentation Center (VDC)
- Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR)