IDLIB – Open Letter to UN Syria Envoy Staffen de Mistura re proposal about “safe corridors” that would put civilians at risk of arrest, torture and death

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Dear Mr de Mistura

I was shocked and frankly appalled that you could seriously propose sending hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians in Idlib, many extremely vulnerable families with over one million children, back to the government controlled areas from where they fled through allegedly “safe corridors”. Worse still you cannot but be aware that such a suggestion gives encouragement to the Assad regime, Russia and Iran to launch an attack on a region that has become if anything one of the world’s largest de facto refugee camps, albeit for internally displaced people  Indeed, so many there have already been forced to flee multiple times already to escape slaughter by the regime and its allies before reaching Idlib. But you know all that! Therefore, how could you even make such a suggestion when you also know about the warcrimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian regime and its allies against civilians, and documented by various UN agencies? 

Your job is to help to protect civilians and in making your “safe corridors” suggestions you give the impression you are feigning ignorance of what happened in Syria over the last seven years? Indeed, reflecting on the recent statements by Assad’s Air Force Intelligence chief Jamil al-Hassan, you will be well aware that the Syrian regime has already begun building an even more repressive state. Speaking to a group of 33 senior officers he reportedly said: “A Syria with 10 million trustworthy people obedient to the leadership is better than a Syria with 30 million vandals. … After eight years, Syria will not accept the presence of cancerous cells and they will be removed completely.”  He also said that there are three million Syrians on his wanted lists and that judicial cases have been prepared against them, and that anyone deemed a ‘hindrance’ to the regime’s consolidation of power would be labeled a ‘terrorist’ and dealt with accordingly.  In Syria, as you know, a “wanted list” is usually a “death list.”

Germany has issued an international arrest warrant for Jamil al-Hassan, a welcome move by the European country that has welcomed the largest number of Syrian refugees. Indeed, al-Hassan’s comments about refugees were especially disturbing (and even more chilling from the perspective of civilians in Idlib) describing those planning to return as ‘sheep’ saying the corrupted ones would be filtered out and the ‘good ones’ would be used. But what does that mean? A recent investigation by the Irish Times showed that returning Syrian refugees faced threats, arrests and even death. For example, of four who were killed, three died in regime custody between two and four months after returning.

Surely people forced to flee multiple times in Syria have suffered enough at the hands of the regime and its allies  because the latter have chosen to fight their “war” primarily against civilians using scorched earth/ethnic cleansing which explains why Idlib now has a population of up to four million people. Those who made it to Idlib have lost everything. Meanwhile, tens of thousands remain ‘forcibly disappeared’ by the regime; over five hundred thousand are probably dead; more than half the population of Syria have been forced to flee their homes; millions are wounded physically and mentally including a majority of the country’s children, and 92% of civilians casualties are blamed on Assad and his allies.

If your “peace making efforts” in Syria are based on sacrificing potentially millions of civilians you should resign because you have apparently chosen not to confront all of those responsible for warcrimes and crimes against humanity?

Yours sincerely

Ronan Tynan

Producer/Director

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’

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