22 May 2015

Syria: 4 Citizens Disappeared Since their Arrest by Syrian Armed Forces in 2012

Al Mezzeh airport detention centre Al Mezzeh airport detention centre

On 29 April 2015, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians sent a communication to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) regarding the case of four men arrested by Syrian armed forces in the Hama Governorate between March and October 2012, who remain disappeared since.

Both from Kafr al-Toun, west of Hama, 40-year-old lawyer, Abdul Aziz Al Jomjame and 27-year-old worker, Abdel Hamid Al Salloum were arrested together by members of the Syrian armed forces on 20 March 2012. Having seen that the Syrian armed forces were approaching the village of Al Jabriya (also in the Hama governorate) where they were, after having conducted a wave of arrests in the nearby small town of Tal Hawash, they tried to escape together on a motorcycle but were quickly arrested by members of the Syrian armed forces who did not provide an arrest warrant or any other justification, and severely beat them with hands and feet – to the point of breaking Abdul Aziz' hand – before burning the motorcycle.

Following their respective disappearances, Abdul Aziz's and Abdel Hamid's families both tried to find their relatives. While Abdul Aziz's family inquired at various detention centres and were not able to locate him until they were told a year after his arrest that he was held in an Air Force Intelligence detention centre, Abdel Hamid's mother went to the police station of Al-Qaboun where she was told that her son too was detained by the Air Force Intelligence. Abdel Hamid was, in fact, seen in early 2013 at the Al Mezzeh military airport in the outskirts of Damascus, infamous for its routine practice of torture, which includes, in its mildest form, hitting people with sticks on their arms and legs and not giving them anything to drink or eat. As for Abdul Aziz, his fate and whereabouts have remained unknown since he was seen a year after his arrest.

On 30 August 2012 Ahmed Al Othman, a 48-year-old worker from Latamneh – a village 39km northwest of Hama which has been the scene of heavy government shelling in early 2012 before being seized by rebels in December 2012 – was arrested on the road to Mhardeh, a city 20km northwest of Hama, by members of the Air Forces Intelligence, who did not provide an arrest warrant or any other justification either. A witness later reported that he was held in an Air Force Intelligence detention centre in Damascus. To date, his fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

On 10 October 2012, Abdel Basset Al Mahmoud El Haji, a 40-year-old blacksmith and father from Taybat al-Imam, a town in northwest Syria, 18km south of Hama, was drinking coffee with his wife and neighbours in his shop when a group of 20 armed men from the Air Force Intelligence and the local Shabiha (government-militia) from Qamhana, a village located 10 kilometres south of Taybat al-Imam, stormed in and forced him into a car without providing an arrest warrant or any justification for his arrest. Taken to Deir Shamil, a village 40 kilometres west of Taybat al-Imam where the Shabiha use a school as a detention centre, he was reportedly held there for five days before being transferred to the Air Intelligence Force Branch in Hama.

In light of this information, Alkarama and Human Rights Guardians referred the cases of Abdul Aziz Al Jomjame, Abdel Hamid Al Salloum, Ahmed Al Othman and Abdel Basset Al Mahmoud El Haji to Ariel Dulitzky, Chairman of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to call upon the Syrian authorities to release them immediately or, at the very least, to put them under the protection of the law and authorise their family to visit them. The Syrian authorities must put an end to the practice of enforced disappearances, in accordance as much with their obligations under international law as with the dignity of each human being, and launch an impartial investigation on all cases reported.

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Dir: +41 22 734 1008)

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