Document - Syria: Father and son arrested, risk torture

URGENT ACTION

UA: 159/12 Index: MDE 24/054/2012 Syria Date: 1 June 2012

URGENT ACTION

Father AND SON ARRESTED, RISK TORTURE

Yasser Hamza Kareem and his 13-year-old son Khaled Kareem have been held incommunicado in Syria since 24 December 2011 in conditions that may amount to an enforced disappearance. There are fears that they have been tortured and are at risk of further torture and other ill-treatment.

Milkman Yasser Hamza Kareem and his 13-year-old son Khaled Kareem were arrested on 24 December 2011 on a street in the Damascus suburb of Douma, where Yasser Kareem was selling milk with his son’s help. Eyewitnesses said they were arrested by men in military uniform.

While no official explanation has been given for their arrest and their whereabouts are unknown, an ex-detainee held in the Air Force Intelligence branch in the al-Mezzeh neighbourhood of Damascus told their family in early May 2012 that he had seen Yasser Hamza Kareem and Khaled Kareem at the branch. He added that some of Yasser Hamza Kareem’s fingers had been broken and that he saw Khaled Kareem being taken out of his cell every few days and returned the next day in tears.

International standards require that families of detainees are notified promptly after their arrest and that detainees have access to lawyers of their choice throughout their detention and are allowed to communicate with their families. The detention of children should only be used as a last resort. Yasser and Khaled Kareem's family have been too frightened to ask the authorities where they are.

The family say that Yasser Hamza Kareem was not politically active and did not attend demonstrations, and they have no idea why he and his son were arrested.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

Calling on the authorities to tell Yasser Hamza Kareem and Khaled Kareem's family where they are and whether any charges have been brought against them;

Calling on them to release Khaled Kareem immediately;

Calling on them to release Yasser Hamza Kareem, unless he is promptly charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards

Urging them to ensure that, for as long as the detention continues, Yasser Hamza Kareem and Khalid Kareem are allowed to communicate with their families, and given access to independent doctors and a lawyer of their choice;

Calling on them to ensure that a prompt, independent investigation is carried out into reports that they have been tortured, and ensure that anyone found responsible for abuses is brought to justice in a fair trial.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 13 JULY 2012 TO:

President

Bashar al-Assad

Presidential Palace, al-Rashid Street

Damascus, �Syrian Arab Republic

Fax: +963 11 332 3410 (keep trying)

Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Interior

His Excellency Major General Mohamad Ibrahim al-Shaar, Ministry of Interior, ‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Fax: +963 11 211 9578 (keep trying)

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�

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

URGENT ACTION

Father AND SON ARRESTED, RISK TORTURE

ADditional Information

Pro-reform demonstrations began sporadically in February 2011 but became larger and more frequent after the first killings of demonstrators the following month. Initially largely peaceful, the Syrian authorities responded in the most brutal manner in their efforts to suppress them. In the year since then, although peaceful demonstrations have continued, the unrest has turned increasingly violent, with armed opposition groups, many loosely under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) carrying out attacks mainly against Syrian security forces. Abuses by opposition forces have also been reported including torture or killing of captured members of the army and security forces, including the pro-government gangs known as shabiha and perceived supporters of the government and suspected informers. Amnesty International has obtained the names of more than 9,900 people reported to have died or been killed in relation to the unrest since mid-March 2011.

Thousands of suspected opponents of the Syrian government have been arrested since protests broke out and many, if not most, are believed to have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Amnesty International has the names of more than 380 people reported to have died in custody in this period and has documented many cases of torture or other ill-treatment. For further information about torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in Syria, see “I wanted to die”: Syria’s torture survivors speak out http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/016/2012/en. Among those who have died in custody are at least 18 children, some as young as 13 years old. The bodies of some of these children bore marks of injuries which indicated they may have been subjected to torture. For further information, please see Syria: Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria, 31 August 2011 (http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/035/2011/en).

Amnesty International has also received many reports of people apparently subjected to enforced disappearance, where state officials have failed to provide their families with any information on the fate of these people, most of whom are believed to have been arrested by the security forces. Despite the Syrian government’s acceptance on 27 March 2012 of the six-point plan drawn up by the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League on Syria, Kofi Annan, and the ceasefire agreement of 12 April, Amnesty International has continued to receive reports of unlawful killings, arrests and continuing detention of people in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance.

Since April 2011, Amnesty International has documented systematic and widespread human rights violations which amount to crimes against humanity, and has called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as an international arms embargo on Syria, and an assets freeze on President Bashar al-Assad and his close associates.

Go to the interactive Eyes on Syria map (www.eyesonsyria.org) to see where human rights violations are being committed in Syria, and Amnesty International's global activism to seek justice.

Names: Yasser Hamza Kareem, Khaled Kareem

Gender m/f: m

UA: 159/12 Index: MDE 24/054/2012 Issue Date: 1 June 2012

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