Activist Group Highlights Forced Disappearances in Syria

Posted October 18th, 2012 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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An global online activist group is calling attention to thousands of cases of forced disappearances in Syria, saying government security forces and paramilitary groups are using the tactic to terrorize families and communities.

Avaaz released testimony Thursday from family members of those arrested, detained or abducted in Syria since the crisis began in March of last year. It says it will hand the cases to the United Nations Human Rights Council for investigation.

The accounts include a man arrested at a military checkpoint in February whose family does not know where he is being held. Another family describes a man being arrested shortly after the start of protests in May 2011, and only hearing of his whereabouts from detainees who had been released.

The group's report cites human rights groups and lawyers saying at least 28,000 – and as many as 80,000 – people have been forcibly taken.

Avaaz stopped updating its own totals in July 2011 with just under 3,000 cases, saying the situation on the ground in Syria had made it too difficult to verify the accounts.

Also Thursday, Syria's state-run SANA news agency said terrorists blew up a gas pipeline and an oil pipeline.

It said the explosions happened in the Deir Ezzor area, and quoted an oil ministry official saying repairs to the pipelines would begin soon.

The Syrian government refers to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as “terrorists.”