Disappearances Continue in Syria. Number of people detained and / or forcibly disappeared by the following warring parties in Syria since 2011. These are (from left to right): Syrian Regime forces; Islamic State; SDF (mainly PYD); All Armed Opposition factions / Syrian National Army; Hay’at Tahrir al Sham.
155,604 people are still under arrest / forcibly disappeared in total.
Source: Syrian Network for Human Rights.
Protesters have hit the streets across government-held areas of Syria for over a week, calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down from office, decrying fuel price hikes as well as economic mismanagement and corruption. But protesters are also calling for the release of the thousands of people who were forcibly disappeared since 2011.
According to a report newly released by The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), at least 155,604 people arrested in Syria between March 2011 and August 2023 are still under arrest and/or have been forcibly disappeared. This includes at least 5,213 children and 10,176 women.
The Syrian regime forces are identified as responsible for more than 80 percent of these disappearances (135,638 cases), while the self-proclaimed Islamic State are thought to have carried out 8,684 disappearances, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) 4,704, Hay’at Tahri al-Sham (which is an alliance of Fateh al-Sham Front and a number of armed opposition factions) 2,514, and all armed opposition factions/Syrian National Army (SNA) a further 4,064.
While these incidents peaked in the years 2012 (when 21,633 people disappeared) and 2013 (19,963 people disappeared) and have trailed off in recent years, they are far from over, with 741 people recorded as having disappeared in 2022 and 445 so far in 2023.
The areas with the highest numbers of disappearances in the past 12 years are the Rural Damascus governorate, followed by Aleppo, Damascus, and Deir Ez-Zour.
Enforced disappearances are defined as when “persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.”
The SNHR counts a person as forcibly disappeared when they have been arrested and their families have been unable to obtain information from official authorities about their arrest or whereabouts for at least 20 days, with the authorities refusing to acknowledge the arrest.