The 53rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
19 June to 14 July 2023
Item 4: Interactive Dialogue on oral update of Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
Oral statement of Association Ma’onah for Human Rights and Immigration
Delivered by: Sarah Tayara / GICJ
Thank you, President.
We share the Commission’s concerns regarding the arbitrary arrests and detention of civilians.
To be detained in Syria is to be tortured. It is to be stripped of your basic human rights, to be silenced, and to endure treatment amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity. A complete absence of any mechanism of accountability has meant that for the past 12 years, Syrian government forces have detained, tortured and killed as they please, without any respect for the dignity of human life.
President, I recently spoke to a Syrian refugee in Turkey who was detained for 6 months by Syrian government forces. Every day was a perpetual cycle of suffering, stuck between the uncertainty of whether he would be killed, and wishing for death as an escape.
Moreover, it is not just the detainees who suffer, but their families as well. Loved ones left behind are tormented by the uncertainty of the whereabouts of the missing or whether they are still alive. Intimidation tactics are used to silence and suppress them.
If the dead could speak, they would tell us we failed them. And they would be right.
Ma’onah and Geneva for Justice call upon an immediate release of all detainees and the establishment of an independent and impartial mechanism of accountability to hold perpetrators of torture and arbitrary detentions to account. How many more individuals must be detained before the international community takes a stand? How many more families must suffer, not knowing whether their loved ones are dead or alive?