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Syria disappeared: Where is Anas al-Shogre?

Update 1 January 2013: Write for Rights has now ended, and this action has closed. 

A huge thank you to everybody who left a message of support for Anas's family, we were bowled over by your response. We are gathering the messages together and will get them to Anas's family in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, thank you again for taking the time to leave such thoughtful messages. If you haven't seen them, read the messages now

Anas al-Shogre has been detained incommunicado since May 2011. His family do not know where he is, they fear for his safety and wellbeing. Omar Assil, leading member of the Syrian Non Violence Movement, reflects on Anas' bravery and the situation in Syria. 

Anas al-Shogre Deadly clashes in Syria have become so common that news of yet another arrest, disappearance or attack on protestors by security forces often fails to make it to the front pages of international media. I know only too well the risks involved in taking part in peaceful protest. 


Before arriving in the UK in September 2011, I took part in several demonstrations in Damascus. I always managed to avoid arrest, but witnessed first-hand the brutal treatment protesters were subjected to at the hands of police and security forces. Brutality that began just minutes in to the peaceful protests.

One of the many Syrians who were not so lucky is Anas al-Shogre. He has been detained and denied communication with the outside world since the night of 14 May 2011, when he was arrested in Banias, Syria. The authorities have not said where he is being held and have not revealed the reasons for his arrest.

But it isn’t that hard to imagine. Anas was one of many who called for anti-government protests in Banias, right at the beginning of the uprising. He bravely led the protests and reported on them for the international media – including BBC Arabic. He exposed the human rights violations being committed by the Syrian authorities in the city. Anas’s family and local human rights activists believe that this is why he was arrested, and I am inclined to agree with them. 


Tortured and imprisoned for speaking out


The people at Amnesty are worried. They think that Anas could be a prisoner of conscience - detained for peacefully expressing his views. They also fear that Anas has been tortured. Given the testimonies collected in their report this seems highly likely. 


Anas has almost certainly experienced the horrific methods of systematic torture that have become so commonplace following the massive wave of arrests taken place during the Syrian uprising, torture meted out by the Syrian government, security forces and ‘shabiha’ gangs.. The treatment of detainees is so violent that many have said to me they wished that they had died before the ‘shabiha’ gangs had got their hands on them.


Standing in defiance on the streets of Syria


Despite the huge danger, Syrians have not given up. Many of my friends who got arrested are back on the streets protesting the same day they are let out of prison. They are peacefully standing up for their human rights, in defiance against the Syrian regime. And they do so in the name of those who now can’t and who paved the ground for this defiance. People like Anas. 


"He is so brave. The thing that makes Anas distinct from other people is his courage" - Anas's brother Ibrahim al-Shogre.


Messages from people around the world can be a great source of hope for families in situations like this. You can stand in solidarity with Anas and send a message of support to his family by adding a comment below. Our friends at Amnesty will ensure that your message reaches them. 


About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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I want the family of Anas to know that I am thinking of them and will be praying for their strength and the safe return of Anas.

sarah_84 11 years ago

I send all my best wishes to Anas and his family, hoping that they will soon be reunited.

mary.louchez 11 years ago

I want the family of Anas to know that I am thinking of them and will be praying for their strength and the safe return of Anas.

PtFrb 11 years ago

I would like to send the family of this brave young man a message of support, and a fervent wish that you are re-united with him very soon.
Please be aware that courageous individuals like him are admired the world over and they are thought of and prayed for.
The world needs young men like him.
The horrific situation in Syria is a blot on the landscape of humanity,
and I feel for every person living there.
May there be peace soon.
You are in my prayers.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

geraldine.fitzgerald 11 years ago

My thoughts go to Anas and his family. I hope the future brings you brighter days.

Serendipitous Dinosaur 11 years ago

Anas like all of us has a spirit or energy, however you like to define that essence. He may currently be detained and experiencing unpleasantness but his captors cannot remove Anas. They cannot deny him. His existence. They cannot undo the positive acts that he has done. They cannot scratch out his peaceful mark on history and life. All that they can do is choose to destroy themselves or choose to be better to themselves and others. Either way without Anas's permission to undo his goodness and have himself disappear from life, his captors are powerless. They can only decide things incidental to Anas's life.

Anas will not, I believe and I'm sure you his family believe, grant such permission to his captors. Please know that many people stand with you now in spirit and know that beneath a storm lies calm waters and only on calm waters can we reach our destination. Be still and face the storm with unwavering stillness and know that you will be carried to your destination on that calm water beneath.

jscott753 11 years ago

Sending you much love and kindness. This must be so difficult for you but so many people respect and support you and Anas in your struggle.

buffy10 11 years ago

Like many other people I hope that Anas comes through these terrible times and that you will soon be reunited. The thoughts of the world are with him and Syria.

PaulGu 11 years ago

I have a son the same age. I can only guess at the anguish his family are experiencing. Amas is an amazingly strong and principled young man, to speak out and keep speaking out against such barbarism takes a very special kind of bravery. I will pray for him and his family, for his safe return to them and for the violence in Syria to subside. Thinking of you all with affection and admiration. 11 years ago

Thinking of you and praying for you - we can only imagine how you must be feeling. May God be with you and especially with your brave and honourable son. And may you be together soon . . . your suffering country is in our thoughts and prayers.

browker 11 years ago

I am so sorry that you must be torn in two but you have a son of rare and supreme courage and it is through precious individuals like him that good may triumph. I sincerely hope that you will be reunited with him very soon and that your bleeding country also will soon know peace with a strong, wise and compassionate government.

rosina 11 years ago

People across the world are thinking of you and trying to help. I hope Anas returns soon.

CDG 11 years ago

Your son, Anas, is so brave. I am sure you are very proud of him. I pray that he is still alive and will return to you.

Vincent Hayward 11 years ago

Your brave and selfless son Anas is a shining beacon of outstanding courage. My fervent prayer is that he will soon be released and reunited with you and that the terrible suffering throughout Syria will end and peace be restored.

angelsweets28 11 years ago

You must be so proud of your son's bravery. I hope and pray that he will be returned to you safely.

gillsmith29 11 years ago

I am very sorry you are experiencing this awful time because of the disappearance of your son.
I will pray for him and that those who hold him will be moved to release him or explain everything that has happened.
I have written to the authorities requesting immediate information about your sons whereabouts.
Please know that you are not alone in your concerns and that many people are doing all they can to cause the Syrian authorities to be honest and open with us all about this incident.
I pray for all of God's blessings to be upon you all.
Terry O'Dea

terryodea 11 years ago

Let us hope that the many thoughts and prayers bring Anas home safely.
He is a brave young man.

jackybwv244 11 years ago

I hope your brave young son is soon returned to you safely - we are thinking of you and praying for you. We want to stand beside you.

terryandpauline 11 years ago

I wish you all strength and hope as you wait for news of your son. It is the greatest of human traits to stand up peacefully for what is right, despite the threat of violence that he faced. May he come home to you soon.

cew 11 years ago

Anas' bravery is an inspiration to us all. We will not forget him, and we stand with you as you wait courageously for his return.

will attenborough 11 years ago

Anas, we will find you and you and your people will have justice!

kf.barnacle 11 years ago

Your bravery and resolve should serve as inspiration for people around the world. I cannot begin to imagine your suffering and I hope you are released soon.

D Baguley 11 years ago

Anas is such a brave young man, I pray and hope that Syria will soon enter its Arab Spring, thanks to his shining actions and those of so many other Syrian people like him... Our hearts are with him and his family in their immense struggle and suffering...

cfarnon55_1 11 years ago

I live in England and have a secure and comfortable life, though I've had some experience of pain and sorrow for my children's lives. But I know that I cannot imagine your pain and anxiety about Anas. I am sure you must be very proud of him, and I send you my love and support even though I have never met you. The world needs young people with courage and convictions, but I pray that you have your son returned to you very soon, and that you have the courage and strength to remain positive for him. My heart goes out to you.

jane33 11 years ago

You have been incredibly brave, and have been treated so unfairly. I hope your situation changes soon. Chris, UK.

chrispooleuk 11 years ago

Hi Ibrahim, I was deeply saddened to read through Amnesty International about the plight of your family regarding your missing brother. It breaks my heart to think of the pain that you are all enduring and I pray for you all. It is my profound hope and prayer that Anas is safe and well, that you will receive news and that he will be returned to his loving family very soon. I can see from the photograph that your brother has a brave and gentle soul -our world is a better place for people like him.I hope that one day your country will be the fair and peaceful nation it's people deserve.
I know that at this time things seem very grim to you and your family, but your brave brother is in this situation because he cares for the living standards of his family and country. In a way he is a soldier - fighting for a better life for everyone in Syria, you must be proud of him and think of him in this way.

As we approach our winter festival of Christmas in the west, I hope that our season of special goodwill will bring a happier time for Syria and the region - and that your brother will be returned to you very soon. I will follow your case closely - please be assured that Anas's safe return to his family means a great deal to me. I will be watching for news. May the blessings of Allah be with your whole family and nation -my very best wishes of love and peace - Susan

Susan Wood 11 years ago

I wish you strength, courage and hope.

mjs24uk 11 years ago

I am thinking of you and wish you strength,courage and hope.

masurisana 11 years ago

Our thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time - but stay strong and beleive that Anas will return. He is an inspiration to the world as we continue the struggle against oppressive regiemes. Be strong and be proud of this exceptional young man. Some day soon we hope that peace will abound in Syria and Anas can come home.

terry.dyer 11 years ago

Stay strong! The world is doing their best to help you. The truth WILL come out and Anas WILL be free! I'm proud of everything he worked to acheive.

natashaevalambert 11 years ago

Your bravery is remarkable and inspiring. Stay strong as we all wish for Anas' safe return.

Peter Pack 11 years ago

I send you all my good wishes and hope that Anas is OK and he will soon be free. Lots of people around the world are thinking about you all and the hard times you must be going through while he is away, but keep strong, please, you are really brave and he is a remarkable example for activists worldwide. My best wishes.

Elena Montes 11 years ago

I have lightened a candle everyday in my home to remember the people like your brave family member who is risking his life for many thousands of other people.

I stand with you in solidarity and hope.


m.w.franklin 11 years ago

All compassionate people of the world give you & your brave son Anas, their support & prayers.

Lesley Bowen 11 years ago

To Anas's family, please hold on to hope, you have the support of people all over the world. We stand by you and support you. Peace be with you, Teresa x

teresa.w123 11 years ago

I am so sorry about what you are going through. Your son is in my thoughts and I hope and pray that you will have him back with you soon.

peruanita 11 years ago

To Anas's family I send my full support. I can't imagine how awful it must be to have your son taken in this way. I have three sons who I hope are safe and well. I pray that you will soon have yours restored safely to you.

mollybw43 11 years ago

I wish you all the hope in the world for Anas to return home safely.

SueCraig53 11 years ago

To the family of Amas...
my thoughts are with you, your son is a very brave young man. I hope your son is returned to you very soon.
Peace and love to you all
from a mother of three sons x

sandyfowles 11 years ago

Our thoughts are with you - you are not alone.

r.hodgkins 11 years ago

You must be so proud of Anas. My thoughts are with you all at this terrible time. May god bless you

Mary Hardwick

marymojoe 11 years ago

The prayers and thoughts of many people are with you and your wonderful and brave son, and we ask you not to give up hope. Evil, violence, hatred and injustice never last for ever, even though there are times of great darkness; in the end, goodness, peacefulness and love overcome their opposites to triumph in the race of life and light, the race made plain in the message of the gospels, to which we look for strength and reassurance. God bless you, all of you, especially Anas, and keep you safe.


Please remember that, while you suffer like this, our hearts are breaking with you and, full of love for you, send you any strength we can in the hope that it helps you stay strong. For Anas, we hope that he somehow learns that the outside world is looking for news of him and have not forgotten him

claremc 11 years ago

Please remember that, while you suffer like this, our hearts are breaking with you and, full of love for you, send you any strength we can in the hope that it helps you stay strong. For Anas, we hope that he somehow learns that the outside world is looking for news of him and have not forgotten him

claremc 11 years ago

I am a Year 7 pupil at Lilain Baylis Technology School in London and am writing this on behalf of my tutor group 7B.

Anas and his family are very strong throughout this time. We wish the best for him and our hearts are with him all the time. We hope everything goes in the best way possible for everyone in Syria, especially people like Anas and his family. We have not forgotten him and we hope he returns home safely.

neil.owen 11 years ago

Thinking of you and hoping with all my heart that you will hear something of your extremely brave son very soon.

Levelou 11 years ago

I cannot begin to imagine the anguish you are going through but you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. Please God you will soon hear news of your brave young son.

joycewebb68 11 years ago

The horror of what you are going through is immense and I hope you and your son are soon reunited. You and your country are in my thoughts and I am holding you in the light. In Peace.

Beck 11 years ago

Your sons bravery is truly humbling. We at amnesty stand in solidarity with you.

beardymatt 11 years ago

Thinking of you and sending love across the ocean to Anas and his family

jtajima 11 years ago