There is no Nelson Mandela in Syria and it may take generations before one can talk about normalization in Syria: Nikolaos Van Dam

I first met Dr. Nikolaos van Dam in Damascus years before the revolution. He totally fascinated me with his deep knowledge and mild nature. I later saw him in Istanbul in 2016. He was the Special Envoy for Syria and he got only more elegant and knowledgeable in his area of knowledge. Not many people can be both academic and active but Van Dam is. Retired now, Van Dam has more time to contemplate on Syria and to see where things went wrong in the Syrian revolution. His latest book Destroying a Nation: The Civil War in Syria (also in Arabic (2018): تدمير وطن: الحرب الاهلية في سوريا) is maybe the most comprehensive and objective report on Syria. He explains the recent history of Syria, covering the growing disenchantment with the Assad regime, the chaos of civil war and the fractures which led to the rise and expansion of ISIS. Through an in-depth examination of the role of sectarian, regional and tribal loyalties in Syria, van Dam traces political developments within the Assad regime and the military and civilian power elite from the Arab Spring to the present day.

News & Views

Revitalizing Civil Society Engagement in the Geneva Process

De Mistura does not seem to understand the value of civil society participation, but rather sees the CSSR as a box to check off

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Regime Intelligence Used Rape to Humiliate Victims

This silence could not be maintained by one of the women, who due to the terrible pain she suffered in the regime’s detention centers had nervous breakdown. This prompted her relatives to seek a consultation with a psychologist

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Regime Exploits Syrian Law to Cover up Its Crimes

They stipulate that if a person is missing for four years, they are declared dead. This eliminates the requests from the commission and other agencies to hand over the bodies of prisoners and inform their families of what they’d been subjected to

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The Assassination of Raed Fares, and the Day the Syrian Revolution Died

Last Friday, in Kafranbel, a van began following Fares and his friend Hamoud Juneid, a Radio Fresh reporter, as they drove through town. Men in the van opened fire on Fares’s vehicle

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SNHR: Over 28,000 Children Killed in Syria

In its latest report, The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented the number of children killed in Syria since the start of the war writes The Syrian Observer

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Detainees: Being belly dancer saves a lot of torture

In the midst of the noise and when the new inmates came in, we had to keep the dormitory clean, and fortunately I did not move between the dormitories as it did with most girls and women

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In Syrian prisons, Mother’s Day a chance for more torture

The mothers were eager to see their children and young girls yearned for the embrace of their mothers; but that counted for nothing for the insensitive jailor that continued to play songs about motherhood

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When Cells Speak: book documents memos of Syrian detainees

Ghada Bakir says that the idea of the book was not born today, but originated since 2011, when Saraqib’s martyr Ahmed Saleh al-Da’as was arrested and killed under torture by regime security in the northwestern province of Idlib

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Experts say war crimes case against Assad government growing

Criminal investigators say they have built a case documenting the widespread torture and murder of Syrian detainees by the Assad government

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IIIM President: No Peace in Syria Without Accountability

Marchi-Uhel emphasized the importance of accountability to pave the way for lasting peace. She also stressed that accountability should be part of the political process in Geneva.

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Justice Needed for 7 Years of Abuse

States should also share relevant information and documentation and amend national laws to enable any necessary cooperation with the team

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Responding to Misconceptions Regarding the IIIM

In June, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights’ (OHCHR) hosted a human rights reference group meeting in Turkey with Syrian NGOs to discuss the latest in human rights developments – including the IIIM’s progress. The meeting led to a greater understanding of the IIIM’s mandate.

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