Eleven years ago, thousands of Syrians joined peaceful protests across the country. What began as a hopeful call for democracy has been turned into what the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry calls an abyss. More than a decade since the Syrian uprising, Syrians remain vulnerable to violations without accountability. This anniversary provides us, as a human rights organization and a global community, an opportunity to take stock of where we are and what we want to work towards.
Tens of thousands of Syrians remain missing, and disappearances and arbitrary detentions continue across the country. At detention sites, torture, ransom, and deaths are rampant. Syrian regions like Afrin, Idlib, and Deir ez-Zor continue to be marked by continued violence. Even for Syrians living outside of active conflict zones, life remains untenable. Over 90% of the Syrian population lives in poverty and ongoing drought has made meeting necessities like water, food, and electricity a challenge. For thousands of Syrians, returning to their homes before the conflict is an impossibility, with thousands of homes rendered uninhabitable by airstrikes or appropriated by the state or armed factions, keeping millions displaced both inside and outside the country.
Despite the undeniable reality that Syria remains unsafe, thousands of Syrians in Europe and Turkey remain under threat of deportation. Turkish authorities have deported over 155,000 Syrian refugees to Syria between 2019 and 2021, many of whom were detained, mistreated, and blackmailed by armed factions when they arrived in Syria. And despite the irrefutable proof of ongoing human rights violations committed by all parties in the conflict, accountability remains rare.
In the face of this darkness, we at Syrians for Truth and Justice still believe in working towards the future the protestors called for eleven years ago. We still believe in a Syria built on the foundation of human rights, equality, and democracy for all Syrians. For us, that begins with impartially and accurately documenting human rights violations. What you do to work towards that future may be different, but we hope you will work with us.
Eleven years since the Syrian uprising began, Syrians still need the attention, humanity, and initiative of the international community. We call for:
- The United Nations Syria Constitutional Committee to consider the opinions and needs of all Syrians, including Syrian minorities, as they draft the new constitution. A fair, equitable constitution, built on the foundation of equal human rights, is an important step towards addressing the countries’ many legal inequities.
- Host countries to continue to provide Syrian refugees and asylum seekers with safety and stability, and immediately cease the arbitrary deportation and detention of Syrians.
- The Syrian regime to immediately make prisons and detention sites open and accessible to international bodies like the United Nations Commission of Inquiry and international humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross; to immediately inform family members where their loved ones are being detained, and if they died while in detention, to provide a death certificate and information on where they were buried.