My name is Fadwa Mahmoud, a longtime activist and prison survivor. I’m here in Geneva with four other women united by the cause of Syria’s detained and disappeared. The Syria peace talks begin in this city tomorrow yet we are outraged the issue of the more than 100,000 people facing torture in the country’s jails is not even on the agenda.
Tomorrow at 1pm, our group “Families for Freedom”, will be outside the peace talks to lead a moment of silence in love and solidarity with all of Syria’s detained and disappeared sons and daughters. We have asked the negotiating parties to pause the talks and come down and join us. With pressure from you on governments attending we stand a much better chance of keeping this issue alive.
My son Maher and my husband Abdelaziz were disappeared three years ago in Syria. My husband, an activist, had returned from a trip to China and my son Maher went to pick him up from the airport. I was on the phone to Maher and he said “We’re in the car and we’re heading back home now”. Five minutes later I called back. It was a mother’s instinct and I felt something had happened. Their lines were out of service. That was the last I ever heard of Maher or Abdelaziz.
Our loved ones were taken away for protesting, for delivering baby milk or for urging others to remain peaceful. Some were taken for no reason at all. Inside prison, they are tortured and sometimes executed. I would know – I was imprisoned by the Syrian regime myself for years when my children were still young.
As the families of Syrian detainees, we have been intimidated and told by men with arms and politicians not to speak up. But we will not be silent. We want to move people around the world to join our cause and bring every Syrian unjustly detained home.
Please stand with us.