Friday 21 September 2012
Most recent: In follow up with our former statement regarding the disappearance of the NCB’s members Dr. Abdelaziz al-Khayer -Head of the NCB Foreign Affairs Office-, Iyas A’yash -Member of the NCB Executive Committee and a leading figure of the Arab Socialists Movement-, and Maher Tahan -NCB member-. We lost communication with them less than 30 minutes after the passport control point in the Damascus Airport.
It has become clear to us, based on further information, that the car they were in was stopped by the Airforce Intelligence checkpoint, which detained them and escorted them to one of its branches. We have notified all the relevant international and regional bodies, the United Nations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Arab League and the UN Secretary-General’s representative on the matter.
The National Coordination Body holds the Syrian authorities in complete responsibility for the mental and physical wellbeing, and freedom of our 3 fellow comrades. We demand that they be immediately released.
Update: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Syrian leading opposition figure kidnapped. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights can verify that the leading opposition figurehead, Dr. Abdelaziz al-Khayer, has been kidnapped since last night. Dr. al-Khayer, who is the National Coordination Body’s head of International Affairs, was forcibly disappeared last night while on his way back from the Damascus International Airport, he was part of the NCB delegation returning returning from China. Two other members of the NCB who were in the car with Abdelaziz al-Khayer were also taken, they are Mr. Iyas Ayash and Mr. Maher Tahan.
On Thursday, five members of the delegation from the National Coordination Body returned to Damascus from the People’s Republic of China. Following their departure from Damascus International Airport after 5pm two cars were travelling together, but contact was lost with one of them. That car was carrying Abdel Aziz al-Khair, Head of the Office of Foreign Relations Office of the NCB , Eyas Ayyash member of the Executive Committee and a leader of the Arab Socialist Movement, and friend Maher Tahan who came to pick them up. There has been no contact with them since.
The NCB released a statement:
We at the NCB decided to postpone the publicity for the following news, hoping to find out what has happened. We have called several Embassies, numerous national and Arabic personalities – inside and outside the country:
Any infringement of the freedom and safety of Iyas A’yash, Abdelaziz al-Khayer and Maher Tahan is an infringement of the concept of citizenship, and of moral and political commitment to the Syrian citizen and their natural right to security, freedom and dignity.
We demand that whoever can put an end to the disappearance of these three civilians should act immediately in accordance with their national responsibility in respecting other citizens and ensuring their freedom and safety. Any harm inflicted upon our partners, regardless of the party responsible, would be a wrongdoing inflicted upon Syria, its reputation, and its unity. In this terrible time of crisis Syria needs these leading figures more than ever; they are a source of pride for every Syrian, regardless of political, geographical, or sectarian affiliations.
The National Coordination Body’s Exile Branch holds the kidnappers, whoever they be, completely responsibility – ethically, legally, and politically – for any physical or mental harm done. We demand an explanation for why there has been no communication, whatever the motives and reasons. We demand they be immediately returned safely to their families.
Eternity for our martyrs
Victory to our revolution for freedom and dignity
National Coordination Body’s Media Office / Exile Branch
Interview with Abdalaziz al-Khair, leading figure of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change, Syria: http://supportkurds.org/reports/interview-with-abdalaziz-al-khair-leading-figure-of-the-national-coordination-body-for-democratic-change-syria/
Syrian Ex Opposition Leader Says Violence Cannot Bring Democracy: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xssl67_syrian-ex-opposition-leader-says-violence-cannot-bring-democracy_news
Reuters: Syria seizes opposition members after China trip – opposition By Oliver Holmes
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Security forces seized three members of Syria’s government-sanctioned opposition shortly after they returned from an official trip to China, a spokesman for the group said on Friday.
Five other members of the National Coordination Body (NCB) were reportedly detained by Syrian security agents on Monday.
Facing a 18-month-old uprising against his rule, President Bashar al-Assad has tolerated some opposition figures who call for a peaceful transition from a one-party state to democratic governance.
NCB spokesman Khalaf Dahowd said NCB foreign affairs head Abdel Aziz al-Khair and executive committee member Eyas Ayyash arrived in Damascus on Thursday night and were followed by Syrian security agents to their car where they joined NCB member Maher Tahan.
“The car never made it to Damascus,” Dahowd said. “They were kidnapped and we haven’t heard from them since.”
The road from Damascus airport to the capital is tightly controlled by state security and there are several checkpoints along the route. Many dissidents have been arrested along it.
The men had returned from a visit to China in which they met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. China has urged Assad to talk to the opposition but has also defended the government, most notably by blocking diplomatic efforts to put pressure on Syria at the U.N. Security Council.
Dahowd said Chinese officials had assured the NCB delegation that Beijing would exert influence over Assad to protect the internal opposition, including a Damascus opposition conference which is planned for Sunday.
“We invited Chinese diplomats in Damascus to the conference to ensure people’s lives,” said Dahowd on the phone from London.
In July last year, an opposition conference was cancelled after the owner of the venue was threatened by police and security forces fired on a pro-democracy protest outside, killing 14.
Dahowd also said one of the seized men, al-Khair, had been given assurances from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov at a meeting in Paris on September 9th that Russia, another country that supports Assad, would back and protect the upcoming opposition conference.
The Russian and Chinese foreign ministries did immediately respond to requests for comment.
“Our group is a group that calls for a peaceful transition. The government knows we are nationalists and that we are not calling for an armed revolt,” said Dahowd.
Since the start of the revolt, many of its members had been arrested and killed, he said.
“There is a strong part of the regime who are trying to kill a peaceful solution because they believe this is a conspiracy and they have to sort it out militarily. That’s all they’ve known for 40 years.”
Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in a conflict which began with peaceful street protests that provoked a military crackdown and mushroomed into civil war.
(Additional reporting by Gleb Bryanski in Moscow; Editing by Angus MacSwan)