Dubai: A rights organisation monitoring the Syrian crisis has released damning figures on forced disappearances in the country as the world marked the International Day of Victims of Forced Disappearances on Wednesday.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s forces were responsible for 90 per cent of the forced disappearances in the country.
At least 76,656 people, including 4,219 women and 1,116 children, were kidnapped by regime forces, while Syrian rebels were responsible for 1.67 per cent of the disappearances and extremist Islamists groups were responsible for 6.84 per cent.
The group said the systematic practice was a “crime against humanity” and intended to “silence its critics and instil fear among communities”.
The organisation has documented cases of hundreds of Syrians subjected to forced disappearance.
SNHR also said family members desperately searching for missing loved ones experienced mental and emotional anguish by often being blackmailed and manipulated by the brokers.
The group called on the Syrian government to disclose the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of victims and missing people, including Syrian lawyer Khalil Maatouk, whose whereabouts have been unknown since he was arrested at a government checkpoint in October 2012.
The group also called on rebel groups to release human rights defenders Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wael Hamadeh and Nazem Hammadi, who were kidnapped from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) offices by armed, masked gunmen in Douma on December 9 2013.
In 2012, a Lebanese rights group launched a campaign to push for new efforts to determine the fate of some 17,000 people still missing decades after the country’s brutal civil war ended.
Syria intervened in the Lebanese Civil War and occupied the country until 2005.
Many of the missing people in Lebanon were believed to be sent to Syrian prisons, and their family members never received any information on their whereabouts or conditions.
The campaign unfortunately made no headway and the victims’ families have yet to receive closure about their loved ones.