Target: Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Goal: Release members of a Syrian family arrested without cause and detained incommunicado for over a year
The case is as bizarre as it is frightening: in Syria, an entire family–including six children between the ages of three and fifteen–has been arrested without charge and held incommunicado for over a year. Situations like this are the epitome of a gross miscarriage of legal authority, and the family must be reunited and freed immediately.
The trouble began when police showed up at the home of Rania Alabbasi, a dentist and former international chess champion, and her husband, Abdulrahman Yasin. Yasin was arrested, apparently with no explanation, and a day later the police returned to confiscate a number of the family’s belongings, including money, jewelry, documents, and cars.
On the third day after the original arrest, the police returned and arrested the eight people remaining in the house: Rania Alabbasi, her secretary, and Alabbasi and Yasin’s six children. No one has heard from the family in over a year, although other detainees report having encountered them in a military facility known as Branch 291 within the three weeks following their arrest. Syrian authorities have not responded to relatives’ requests for information, and Amnesty International fears that the entire family is at risk of torture or ill-treatment (in keeping with Syria’s reputation for human rights violations).
Although it remains a mystery why Syrian authorities would target the family at all, it is an incontrovertible fact that children as young as three years old cannot possibly deserve to be arrested and held incommunicado for over a year. Sign the petition and demand that Syrian authorities immediately and unconditionally release the detained children and that they either immediately charge Rania Alabbasi and Abdulrahman Yasin with internationally recognizable crimes or release them unconditionally.
I am writing to express my disgust and disbelief that today, over one year after they were arrested without charge, Rania Alabbasi, Abdulrahman Yasin, and their six children remain in incommunicado detention. Given Syria’s history of poor prisoner treatment and human rights violations, it is reasonable to assume that the entire family is at risk of torture or ill-treatment. I urge you to do everything in your power to bring about the immediate release of the entire Alabbasi-Yasin family, especially the children.
Although arrests without charge are deplorable no matter what the circumstances, they are unfortunately not uncommon for adults around the world. What makes this case particularly upsetting is the inclusion of Alabbasi and Yasin’s six children in the arrests. The children, whose ages range from just three years old to fifteen, are clearly innocent bystanders in this entire mess. Children should not be arbitrarily punished and detained, no matter what their parents’ “crimes” might be. As there is no evidence–or even the barest suggestion of evidence–that Alabbasi and Yasin were involved in a crime, their detention and the detention of their children is doubly reprehensible.
It is imperative that Rania Alabbasi and Abdulraham Yasin be either charged with an internationally recognizable crime or released, and that their children be released immediately and unconditionally. Please do what is right–reunite a family that has already suffered too much injustice.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: TryJimmy via Pixabay