Rescue Hostages Held Captive for Over a Year

Children in Syria

Target: President of Syria Bashar al-Assad

Goal: Rescue women and children held captive in Syria for over a year

At least fifty-four women and children are being held captive in rural Latakia, Syria. They were captured on August 4, 2013, and have suffered immensely at the hands of their captors. The Geneva Conventions prevents the taking and keeping of hostages, but hostages are often used for bartering in war and times of conflict. The captors are various groups of non-state armed groups considered to be opposition forces. The Syrian president must rescue these civilians, as they are in desperate need of help.

In previous events, several of the hostages have been released as bargaining chips. A group of forty hostages were released as part of an agreement with the Syrian government in May, 2014. By releasing the hostages, government forces would allow opposition forces passage out of the Old City of Homs. The other hostages will remain with opposition forces to be used as bargaining chips.

Human Rights Watch spoke with the father of two children who were recently released. His daughter stated that an unknown gunman shot her mother, sister, and an unknown number of women and girls after they were abducted. The women and older girls were separated from the younger children where a lone gunman entered and shot the women and girls. After some investigating, human rights organizations deemed that at least seventeen women and girls were killed, and are working to retrieve all of their names. The elderly were also taken captive, and some had died from natural causes, while others were freed because of their ailing health. The daughter said that she witnessed the captors beating the hostages with electric cables, and being given poor quality food.

Videos have been released of the hostages giving the date and their location, but do not identify themselves by their names.  These people have been suffering for more than a year, and it is time their torture came to an end. These women and children are no doubt scared for their lives, forced to relieve their nightmares every day. Urge the Syrian president to rescue these hostages so they can be returned to their families and receive medical treatment.


Dear President Bashar al-Assad,

There are at least fifty-four women and children who are being held against their will in the Latakia governorate in your country, and have remained hostages for over a year. These people are living out their worst nightmare everyday, where they are being beaten and abused for the benefit of the captors. These people are civilians, who have nothing to do with the conflict in Syria, but are being dragged into the affair as bargaining chips. This goes against the Geneva conventions and violates numerous human rights.

I urge you to send your forces in to help save these people. As the leader of your people, it is your job to keep them safe from harm. Civilians shouldn’t be dragged into this violence, and they shouldn’t be used as bartering tokens. Stop the suffering and send your troops in.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: James Gordon via Wikimedia Commons

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