Government Acknowledges the Deaths in Syrian Custody

Government Acknowledges the Deaths in Syrian Custody

Relatives of missing Syrian family members learn that they have been registered as dead by the government

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Engineer student Islam Dabbas was thrown in prison seven years ago for protesting against the Syrian government. His mother paid bribes in order to be able to visit him, but at some point permissions stopped and she heard nothing of her son’s fate since.

However, last week a relative filed for a government registration document and found a shocking reality: Mr. Dabbas had been registered as dead on January 15, 2013.

“The news of his death devastated us, and we wish we had known then. Since his arrest, we have lived days of hope and days of despair as uncertainty consumed our minds,“ said his sister, Heba, who lives in exile in Egypt

During the last few weeks, hundreds of families have faced a shocking reality: that their missing relatives have been registered as dead by the Syrian government. Officials have not commented on the subject and did not explain how these people died.

On the other hand, these documents seem to be the first public acknowledgement by the government that thousands of prisoners died in state custody.

“The regime is closing one chapter and starting a new one. It is telling the rebels and the activists that this chapter is gone, that whatever hope in some surviving revolutionary spirit has been crushed,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies