Syria: Statement on Zaynab al-Hosni
Last month Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued statements following the killing and mutilation by unknown persons of a woman in Syria believed to be Zaynab al-Hosni.
Zaynab had vanished from her home in Homs in late July and her family said that they had searched for her to no avail.
Al-Hosni’s family had confirmed to Amnesty and HRW that they had identified her body at a military hospital in Homs. On 17 September staff at the hospital invited al-Hosni’s mother to identify the body of a woman that had been brought to them, in light of the fact that Zaynab had been reported missing for over two months.
The mother identified the body as that of her missing daughter. The head and arms had been cut off and parts of the body, including the face, were heavily burned. The family subsequently held a funeral and buried the body.
Yesterday (4 October) Syrian state television aired an interview with a woman who identified herself as Zaynab al-Hosni. In the interview, she says that she left her family’s house to escape ill-treatment by her brothers. Al-Hosni’s family subsequently confirmed that the woman who appeared on Syrian television is indeed Zaynab. The family has not been able to speak to her to verify her current situation.
Amnesty and HRW regret any inaccuracy in the misidentification of the body as that of Zaynab al-Hosni; both organisations regularly verify their information with multiple and independent sources. Amnesty published its news release after speaking directly to one of Zaynab’s brothers. HRW later interviewed in person al-Hosni’s mother, as well as a brother who washed the corpse prior to burial, after they had escaped Syria to a neighbouring country. It now appears that Zaynab’s family misidentified the body that was presented to them due to the extensive damage it had suffered.
The organisations are calling on the Syrian authorities to immediately take steps to identify the woman whose body was buried, and to hold an investigation into the brutal, gruesome murder of a Syrian woman, as well as the wide-scale human rights violations that are occurring on a daily basis in Syria.
HRW and Amnesty are also calling on the Syrian government to grant immediate access to independent human rights investigators, including the United Nations Commission of Inquiry set up in August.
The estimated death toll since the security forces began cracking down on protests in Syria six months ago now exceeds 2,600 people. Despite this, yesterday the UN Security Council again failed to take a firm and legally binding position on the human rights crisis in the country.