Document - Syria: Enforced disappearance of Palestinian man: ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi

URGENT ACTION

UA: 223/13 Index: MDE 24/039/2013 Syria Date: 19 August 2013

URGENT ACTION ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF PALESTINIAN MAN Political activist ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi, a Palestinian refugee living in Syria, was detained by Syrian authorities on 19 or 20 December 2012 and subjected to enforced disappearance. He was known to be held at a Military Intelligence branch in the capital, Damascus but his current whereabouts are unconfirmed. ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi was on his way to visit a friend in the al-Zahira al-Jadida area of Damascus at around 5pm, according to a relative who was with him at the time. Shortly after they separated, his relative received a text message from ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi asking him to contact him urgently. ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi's family has not heard from him since.

Concerned that he may have been detained by members of the security forces, his family members contacted a security official known to them to check if ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi had been arrested. In January 2013, the official told them that ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi had been detained at the Military Intelligence branch 235 (also called ‘Palestine branch’) but was released in the beginning of January. ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi had not returned home however and the family did not receive any document confirming his release. Unofficial information received from inside the security forces later confirmed that ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi was still detained at the Military Intelligence facility and that no information about his fate or whereabouts would be given to his family.

The exact reasons for ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi’s detention are unknown. He had previously been arrested in May 1982 and detained for almost 10 years until his release in 1991 in connection with his membership of the Party for Communist Action (PCA) and again from August 2006 until January 2007, reportedly on charges which included “knowingly broadcasting abroad false or exaggerated news which damages the reputation of the state or its financial standing” and “joining a political or social organization of an international nature without the permission of the government”.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your own language: ν Urging the Syrian authorities to reveal the fate or whereabouts of ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi, grant him immediate access to his family, lawyer and any medical attention he may need; ν Urging the Syrian authorities to ensure that he is protected from torture or other ill-treatment; Asking for clarification of ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi’s legal status, and calling on the authorities to release him if he is not charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 30 SEPTEMBER 2013 TO: President Bashar al-Assad Fax: +963 11 332 3410 (keep trying) (fax/phone line – say "Fax") (Fax is the only reliable communication method; please do not send letters) Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Defence ‘Imad al-Fraij Fax: +963 11 223 7842 (keep trying) +963 11 666 2460 (keep trying) (fax/phone line – say "Fax") Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid al-Mu’allim Ministry of Foreign Affairs al-Rashid Street Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic Fax: +963 11 214 6253 (keep trying) Salutation: Your Excellency

Where appropriate, please also send copies to the Syrian and Russian diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please also send copies to the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations: His Excellency Bashar Ja’afari, Ph.D., Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, 820 Second Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017, Fax: +1212 983 4439; E-mail: exesec.syria@gmail.com

URGENT ACTION ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF PALESTINIAN MAN

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi is an English language school teacher. He has written articles on political and social issues and also had two books published in Syria on social affairs. He has been summoned for questioning by the authorities many times in the past and was a prisoner of conscience between 1982 and 1991 for his membership of the outlawed Party for Communist Action. He has since left the party. More information can be found here: Incommunicado detention / fear of torture or ill-treatment: ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi, Index: MDE 24/052/2006 (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/052/2006/en) and Further information on incommunicado detention / fear of torture or ill-treatment new concern: possible prisoner of conscience: ‘Ali Sayed al Shihabi, Index: MDE 24/003/2007 (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/003/2007/en).

For an insight into the widespread torture and other ill-treatment in Syria’s detention centres, please see I wanted to die: Syria’s torture survivors speak out, Index: MDE 24/016/2012, March 2012 (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/016/2012/en).

Amnesty International has received the names of over 1,000 individuals believed to have died in the custody of the Syrian security forces since the beginning of the unrest – nearly 500 of them in 2012 alone. Amnesty International documented this practice in August 2011: Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria, Index: MDE 24/035/2011, (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/035/2011/en).

Although the vast majority of the human rights abuses documented by Amnesty International have been committed by the state’s armed forces and pro-government Shabiha militias, abuses have also been committed by armed opposition groups. This includes the torture and killing of captured members of the security forces and Shabiha militia members as well as the abduction and killing of people known or suspected to support or work with the government and its forces, or the taking of civilians as hostages to try to negotiate prisoner swaps. Amnesty International condemns without reservation such abuses and has called on the leadership of all armed opposition groups in Syria to state publicly that such acts are prohibited and to do all in their power to ensure that opposition forces put an immediate stop to them. See Syria: Summary killings and other abuses by armed opposition groups (MDE 24/008/2013), 14 March 2013. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE24/008/2013/en/8d527c4e- 2aff-4311-bad8-d63dbc97c96a/mde240082013en.html.

Name: ‘Ali Sayed al-Shihabi Gender m/f: Male

UA: 223/13 Index: MDE 24/039/2013 Issue Date: 19 August 2013

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