A letter to De Mistura and Pedersen
Dear Mr Staffan de Mistura
Dear Mr Geir O. Pedersen,
Please allow me to express my gratitude for your efforts over a long period of time, as you say goodbye to Syrians, and entrust Mr Pedersen to carry on the mission.
I will not go into how you performed politically, and all the criticism that has been levelled against your performance. I know it is too complicated for you or anyone to keep going, while the Assad regime is scrutinising every statement you make, to accuse you of being biased, and while the opposition, and public opinion about you among Syrians who are against Assad, is that you are “trying to finish the task to end the war at any rate, even if at the expense of all the victims of the Assad regime”.
But I would ask you about one issue specifically.
Why the forcibly disappeared and the detainees’ case does not seem to be among your priorities. The purpose of ending the war is mainly to stop the agony of all Syrians, getting the refugees back, so they can start rebuilding their country. But how will all of this be possible when there are tens of thousands of detainees still suffering the unspeakable daily? This man-made humanitarian crisis is not restricted to the detainees themselves. Those detainees have families, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers. The average Syrian family has 5 members. So, there are hundreds of thousands of Syrians at least, that are suffering the loss of their loved ones and are subject to violations of their basic rights, in addition to the social, financial, and civic difficulties they are having due to this situation. Like a wife who lost her husband to detention, and she is not able to earn a living for herself and their children, which leaves her vulnerable to all kinds of abuse and humiliation. Or, a wife who would like to get on with her life, and needs to know if her husband is dead or still living – will she have to wait indefinitely, or can she marry another person? The same goes for to people who would want to buy and sell properties that are registered in the name of the disappeared, in addition to the property of those detained, that stands as an obstacle in front of reconstruction that does not violate the property rights. And several other civic issues. How would refugees think of going back when they know that the Assad regime is still holding many Syrians in inhumane conditions, many of them die daily, only because they dared to speak out? How would the UN or other countries would classify Syria as a safe country, when its government is still holding tens of thousands only because they wanted to practice their very basic rights?!
I know it is complicated to deal with the Assad regime, but why are you not doing more to find out if there are possible solutions or ideas to try to solve the detainees issue? Did you hold one meeting dedicated to for the detainees and the disappeared? Or make an effort to ask experts about this issue, on whether there are solutions to this semi-impossible situation? Nothing is impossible when we insist and have the will, like you are doing to solve the Syrian crisis.
Especially when the International Committee of the Red Cross is already operating in Syria, and it defines its aim as “to secure humane treatment and conditions of detention for all detainees, regardless of the reasons for their arrest and detention”.
In his article, “Dialogue with the Past”, François Bugnion, the ICRC’s Director for International Law and Cooperation, reflected on the ICRC’s failure to react vigorously to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis during WWII. At the time when Raoul Wallenberg, your fellow citizen who makes you proud of being a Swede Mr De Mistura, the diplomat who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews, was one man, with very little resources. Why would you not be this man, or at least give the detainees file to someone who believes in the necessity of saving human lives?
Dear Mr Pedersen,
The detainees’ issue is not only human, but also societal, and it is one of the main obstacles blocking the path of Syrian refugees wanting to return to their country.
This issue is the one where all opposition groups are in agreement.
This issue is time-sensitive, each day detainees lose their lives.
A Syrian Swede human rights defender