Syria must release all arbitrarily detained persons, protect Assyrian Christians and take a firm stand against impunity for international crimes committed against Assyrian Christians, the Director of the Assyrian Human Rights Network said to the Human Rights Council in its statement on behalf of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR).
In presenting the statement, Ossama Edward, the Director and Founder of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, spoke about the disappearance of his dear friend Ramina, a 35 year old mother and an Assyrian writer, who was kidnapped with her children as part of an attack on 34 Assyrian towns in Hassaka province that day.
Ramina is just one of Osama’s friends and colleagues that he works to defend. Osama explained to ISHR that since the age of 20 he has felt a calling to defend his fellow Assyrian Christians that are in substantial danger in Syria.
’Assyrian Christians are constantly at risk in Syria. My staff are continuously threatened and intimidated, they have been imprisoned and tortured – both for their work for the Assyrian Human Rights Network and for being an Assyrian Christian.’
Osama himself was imprisoned in 2008 and was subject to restrictions imposed by the authorities that prohibited him from working as a teacher in any private or government school. Osama also recalls the manner in which his family were intimidated as a means to silence his voice when he was living in Syria and fighting to protect the rights of Assyrian Christians.
In 2011 Osama founded the Assyrian Human Rights Network which raises awareness of human rights violations endured by the Assyrian community in Syria. It uses a network located in Syria and Stockholm to highlight and report human rights abuses to the international community.
Osama unequivocally believes that more needs to be done to ensure that there is no longer impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations in Syria.
‘We need to strengthen the ability of the United Nations to protect fundamental freedoms of the people in Syria. We need to use the United Nations mechanisms as best we can to demonstrate to the perpetrators that there will be accountability for their actions.’
Osama is concerned that the lack of a viable political solution in Syria means that the situation for the people living in Syria and, in particular, Assyrian Christians is unlikely to improve in the near future.
‘Each day I wake up scared that a member of my family, a friend or a staff member has been arrested. I will continue to do whatever I can to protect Assyrian Christians and make them visible.’