Demand Release of Syrian Students Held Incommunicado


Target: Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Goal: Ascertain the whereabouts and secure the release of two students held incommunicado in Syria

Marwa and Mohamed Tuffaha, siblings living with their family in Damascus, Syria, have not been seen or heard from in months. Their family has no idea where they are being held, how long they will be there, what their status is, or even why they have been detained. The Syrian government denies having the pair in custody at all. Stand with the Tuffaha family and demand that the Syrian government release the siblings immediately.

Marwa Tuffaha was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When armed men came to her family home in search of her brother, he was not there, so they took Marwa instead in a ploy to lure Mohamed into custody. Mohamed has not been heard from since a few days after Marwa’s detention, and a relative living abroad tells Amnesty International that the family fears both siblings are now in custody. They both require medication and are probably not receiving it; a relative who went to the Air Force Intelligence branch–where Marwa was rumored to be held–with Marwa’s medication was turned away.

Neither sibling has been charged with any crime or even apparently accused of any concrete offense. Marwa’s detention seems to be based solely on her relationship to her brother, making her the textbook definition of a prisoner of conscience. Sign the petition and demand that the Syrian government immediately make known the whereabouts, status, and well-being of Marwa and Mohamed Tuffaha, and call for the release of the siblings immediately.


Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my deep concern over the whereabouts of Marwa and Mohamed Tuffaha, a sister and brother missing from Damascus since mid-October. The family has reason to believe that one or both are being held at a nearby Air Force Intelligence branch, but the Syrian government denies having either sibling in custody. Both Marwa and Mohamed require medication–which they are likely not receiving–and neither has been officially charged with a crime or even vaguely accused of any wrongdoing.

In early October, armed men arrived at the Tuffaha family home looking for Mohamed Tuffaha. It remains unclear why they were after him, but upon finding he was not at home they essentially took his sister hostage in an attempt to lure him into custody. A relative living abroad reported to Amnesty International that the family’s contact with Mohamed Tuffaha ceased shortly after Marwa’s detainment, and they fear he has now been captured as well.

The Syrian government has absolutely no right to hold two students who are, by all accounts (including the government’s own, since it has not charged wither with any crime) law-abiding citizens. It is especially disgusting to watch a government jail a young woman simply for being Mohamed Tuffaha’s sister. If Syria wants to legally detain either or both siblings, it must immediately confirm their whereabouts and charge them with internationally-recognizable offenses. Otherwise, Marwa and Mohamed Tuffaha are prisoners of conscience and must be set free.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Luis Argerich via Wikimedia Commons

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