Children jailed in Syria for their father's alleged crimes
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Last month, eight-year-old Osama Hamada was arrested in Syria. He was taken from his home during a raid by security forces, along with his ten-year-old brother Mahmoud Hamada, their pregnant mother Malika al-Khateeb and five other family members. All are at risk of torture and are being held with no contact to the outside world.
Why are three generations of this one family behind bars? Not for anything they have done but because Osama’s father is wanted by the Syrian authorities, who accuse him of being a member of a terrorist group.
We believe the whole family is being held for the alleged crimes of a missing relative. They are prisoners of conscience and we are calling for their immediate release. Background to this case
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Take action by text and we’ll add your name, but not your phone number, to the letter below which we’ll fax to the Syrian authorities. Prefer to write your own letter? Download a case sheet (pdf)
Re: Imprisoned members of the Hamada and al-Khateeb family
I am writing to you to express my concern at the detention of seven members of one family, including two young boys aged eight and ten, as well as their pregnant mother.
I believe they are imprisoned solely for their relation to Said Mahmoud Hamada and consider them to be prisoners of conscience. As such, I call on you to release Malika al-Khateeb, Mahmoud Hamada, Osama Hamada, Mahmoud Rida Hamada, Samiya al-Jad, Mohamed Hamada, and Noor al-Habyan immediately and unconditionally.
As the family have so far apparently been held incommunicado, I urge you to ensure that they are allowed immediate contact with a lawyer of choice as well as their wider family. Please also guarantee that the family are protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and provided any medical care they require.
On 15 May 2012, security forces reportedly raided Said Mahmoud Hamada’s workshop, causing him to flee from his home and go into hiding. His eight relatives – wife Malika al-Khateeb, sons Mahmoud and Osama Hamada, father Mahmoud Rida Hamada, mother Samiya al-Jad, brother Mohamed Hamada, and sister-in-law Noor al-Habyan - were arrested later that day when security forces raided their home in search of Said.
They have been held ever since at the Air Force Intelligence branch in al-Mezzeh, Damascus. On 22 May, a three year old arrested with the group, Adam Hamada, was released and collected from the Air Force Intelligence branch by his maternal grandmother and uncle.
Following the arrests, several of the town’s elders went to ask for their release but were told the family would only be released if Said Mahmoud Hamada hands himself in to the authorities. Reports suggest he is accused by the Syrian authorities of “belonging to a terrorist group”, and is currently in hiding.
An unofficial source reportedly informed the town’s elders that the family are being pressured to appear on state-TV and ‘confess’ that Said Mahmoud Hamada is a member of al-Qaeda and is responsible for a bombing in the al-Qazaz neighbourhood of Damascus on 10 May 2012.
On the basis of the available evidence, we believe that the detained family are prisoners of conscience, held solely because of their relation to Said Mahmoud Hamada. We are concerned for the well-being of Malika al-Khateeb as she is six months pregnant and Samiya al-Jad, who needs regular medication as she suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.
Thousands of suspected opponents of the Syrian government have been arrested since protests broke out in February 2011 and many, if not most, are believed to have been tortured. We have the names of more than 380 people reported to have died in custody in this period. Among them are at least 18 children, some as young as 13 years old. The bodies of some of these children bore marks of injuries which indicated they may have been subjected to torture.
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