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Enforced Disappearance in Syria: In the Words of Family Members

Around the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, I spoke with Kholoud Helmi, Hiba al-Hamed, and Ghufran Khulani—three young Syrian women whose lives have been completely changed after the disappearances of their loved ones by the Syrian regime and ISIS. Building upon the examples of the central role played by families of disappeared in Latin America whose struggle led to the commemoration of this International Day, this series aims to put the experiences of Syrian families at the center of the discourse on the issue of enforced disappearance in Syria and to highlight the ongoing impact of this crime over their daily lives, their mobilization to achieve truth and justice for their loved ones,  and the way forward to ensure that families can play a greater role to release detainees and reveal their fates.

  • Kholoud Helmi: “We have lost the most brilliant young men and women in my city.”
  • Hiba al-Hamed: “Families should not be treated as victims, but rather as partners in the issue of enforced disappearance.”
  • Ghufran Khulani: “We want this suffering to end…We act because we want other families to avoid the same situation.”


Veronica Bellintani is a former Nonresident Fellow at TIMEP focusing on victim and survivor-centric justice in Syria.

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