Mohamed Sabra, a Syrian Coalition Delegate at the Geneva II talks said on February 26th, “The Assad Military Security Apparatus in Jaramana has arrested [my] brother Mahmoud Sabra at one of the checkpoints in the town without any legal justification.” He also said “reports indicate that my brother is being detained by the Military Security Apparatus in Sayeda Zeinab district south of Damascus.”
Sabra stresses that this “represents a violation of human rights and shows the extent of the Assad regime’s disregard for the domestic and international laws. It comes in the context of the regime’s attempts to put pressure on and blackmail members of the Syrian Coalition’s delegation to Geneva II talks. Sabra holds the Assad regime responsible for the safety of his brother, calling for international organizations to press Assad for the immediate release of all Syrian detainees and reveal the fate of those who were forcefully disappeared.”
The arrest of Mr. Sabra’s brother isn’t the first time Assad has displayed his “monster-like tantrum” when things don’t seem to be falling in his favor. He also previously referred some members of the Coalition’s delegation to the Anti-terrorism Court and seized their property and sent threats to the families of the Coalition’s members.
As Mohamed Sabra has pointed out, the actions of the Assad regime clearly demonstrate lack of sincerity about reaching a political solution that ends the bloodshed in Syria. Assad has said that he supports allowing the people to decide who should lead the country; however, he continues to massacre the very people who would decide. In some countries, votes are bought in order to win an election – Assad is trying to eliminate his opposition to win the vote.
Sabra holds the Assad regime responsible for the safety of his brother, calling for international organizations to “press Assad for the immediate release of all Syrian detainees and reveal the fate of those who forcibly disappeared.”
A US State Department Statement
“The United States is outraged by reports that the Assad regime has arrested family members of the Syrian Coalition delegation to the Geneva II peace talks, designated delegates as terrorists, and seized delegates’ assets. Such actions blatantly disregard the international community’s welcome, through unanimously approved UN Security Council Resolution 2139, of the Geneva talks. We call on the regime to immediately and unconditionally release all those unfairly arrested, including Mahmoud Sabra, brother of Geneva delegation member Mohammed Sabra. The regime is not only defying the international community, but it is also seeking to suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. In contrast, the Syrian Coalition is working courageously to secure a genuine political transition that meets these aspirations and enables the people to independently and democratically determine their own future. The opposition delegation must be permitted to safely and securely work towards the political transition for which the Security Council and the Geneva Communique have called.”
Targeting family members of opposition delegates participating in the Geneva talks is morally reprehensible. Unfortunately, arrests and other attempts to silence the opposition in Syria have been a continuous battle which began with a peaceful protest by the people and turned into a blood bath by Assad.
The regime continues to terrorize the citizens who are internally displaced by dropping barrel bombs from helicopters. If these are not illegal already, they should be soon as their results have been discussed in UNSC sessions. These are oil barrels filled with gasoline; plus nails and sharp shrapnel. When it explodes, the barrel spreads flames and the shrapnel as far as the blast reaches.
Unfortunately, the arrests and attempts to silence dissent are not new behavior for the Assad regime. This regime continues to brutalize the Syrian people through aerial bombardment and other indiscriminate attacks that maim and kill civilians by the thousands. Political and arbitrary imprisonment, and the systematic torture and death of tens of thousands of people without access to due process, are but a few of the regime’s documented human rights violations.
It is time for the United States to stop being OUTRAGED and start doing something meaningful to stop the bloodshed. Some might ask, weren’t the Geneva-2 talks meaningful? The answer to that question is peace negotiations can only happen when two sides show up with the intention to negotiate fairly to a common resolution. The negotiations appear to have resulted in the release of some of the besieged from Homs and the UN was able to get humanitarian AID in with the help of Syrian Red Crescent. FULL STOP!
ASSAD only understands one thing. He must be beaten at his own game! Who is up for the challenge?