12/08/2020

Seven years since Syriac political activist Said Malki was arrested by Syrian regime, his fate still unknown

ZALIN, Syria — Seven long years have passed since Said Malki, a leader in the Syriac Union Party (SUP), was arrested by the Syrian regime in Zalin (Qamishli). His fate is still unknown.

Arrested for speaking out against the regime and for greater rights for the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian and Syrian people, Malki was the victim of the regime’s tyrannical grip on public speech and expression.

The SUP issued a statement marking the seventh anniversary of Malki’s arrest demanding that the regime reveal his fate and support international efforts aimed at establishing peace and democracy in Syria as well as releasing all political detainees in regime prisons.

Only through equal citizenship and transparent, democratic governance can Syria see peace and stability, read the statement.

The statement concluded with an praise for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of a free and dignified life for the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people and pledged to continue the path walked by Said Malki and all martyrs.

Malki is not the only Syriac to have disappeared, alongside thousands of other Syrians, inside the Syrian regime’s prisons.

Last month, the death of Samer Kamel Khabbaze, a 55-year-old Syriac Melkite carpenter from Saydnaya, Daramsuq (Damascus) was reported to be among those confirmed tortured to death in the infamous Saydnaya Military Prison.

According to an informed lawyer, Khabbaze’s family was informed by Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate that he had died in prison from a heart attack while being interrogated and that they had sent his identification papers to the population register to record his death.

Khabbaze’s body was not returned to his family. The family was only allowed to view the body during a controlled ceremony at the Syriac Melkite St. Mary Church in Saydnaya, Daramsuq.

Khabbaze was arrested in 2016.

Among the tens of thousands of Syrians detained or murdered by the Syrian regime are possible hundreds of Syriacs. An estimated 2,000 are missing.

A military defector of the Syrian Arab Army under the pseudonym “Caesar” managed to smuggle approximately 55,000 photographs out of the country and into the U.S. which document torture and killings in Syrian prisons by the Syrian intelligence services and army.

Testifying before the U.S. Congress, Caesar said, “Despite the risks that I was exposed to, I did not achieve my goal of ending the violations. Killing only increased in the same places and in the same methods and by the same criminals themselves.”

His photographs and testimony moved the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions — the so called Caesar’s Law.

Caesar’s Law authorizes the U.S government to impose sanctions on senior government and military officials of the Syrian government and its allies and impose sanctions against Russian and Iranian entities that provide support to Syria’s energy, defense, and construction sectors.

On 17 June, the U.S. imposed sanctions on 39 individuals and entities related to the Syrian government in Damascus, including the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad.