The Free Syria’s Disappeared Coalition, MENA Prison Forum, and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) are delighted to have co-hosted a virtual panel discussion and Q&A session entitled “Seeking Justice: Mzaik v. Syria and the FreeSyria’sDisappeared Coalition for Accountability,” on May 11, 2023.
The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) co-filed a lawsuit against the Syrian Arab Republic in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for widespread and systematic torture in its detention centers on behalf of its client Obada Mzaik, a Syrian-American man who was arbitrary detained and tortured by Syrian state actors in 2012. The suit exposes the Syrian regime’s broader systematic use of detention and torture as state policy, which continues to this day in a network of the regime’s detention centers.
In response to this lawsuit, a group of detention survivors, families of detainees, and human rights groups launched the Free Syria’s Disappeared coalition to highlight the voices of those affected and to demand accountability and justice for the crimes they have endured.
The panel discussion was moderated by Emma Beals, non-resident fellow at the Middle East institute. Our distinguished speakers include Obada Mzaik, the plaintiff of the lawsuit; Wafa Mustafa, a Syrian activist and a daughter of a detainee in Assad’s prisons; and Ahmad Soliman, a Staff Attorney with the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA).
The panel discussion focused on the pervasive and systematic use of detention, enforced disappearance, and torture in Syria, as well as its effects on victims and families. It provided a platform for human rights experts, torture survivors, and justice advocates to exchange ideas and opinions about the ongoing issue of accountability and justice in Syria.
The panel discussion also featured the Free Syria’s Disappeared coalition in order to raise awareness on the impact of detention on victims and families as well as to gather support for their coalition.
Watch the conversation here:
Wafa MustafaSyrian Activist and Journalist
Wafa Mustafa is a Syrian activist, journalist, and a survivor of detention. She left Syria on 9 July 2013, exactly a week after her father was forcibly disappeared by the regime in Damascus. She moved to Turkey and began reporting on Syria for various media outlets. In 2016, she moved to Germany and continued her interrupted studies and graduated from Bard College Berlin. Mustafa has extensively lobbied the United Nations Security Council to call for the release of the names and the whereabouts of all the disappeared by the Syrian regime and other actors within the country. In her advocacy, Mustafa covers the impact of detention on young girls, women and families. Mustafa also campaigns for international recognition of Syrian refugees and against normalized international relations with the Assad regime.
Ahmad SolimanStaff Attorney with the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA)
Ahmad Soliman is a Staff Attorney with the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA). Prior to joining CJA, he graduated from UCLA School of Law where he was Editor-in-Chief of UCLA’s Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs. While in law school, he interned with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM) in Geneva and the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague. Ahmad also holds a Master’s from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a Bachelor’s from the University of Michigan.
Emma Beals (moderator)Independent consultant, Non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute
Emma Beals is an independent consultant, a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C, Senior Advisor at the European Institute of Peace, and a former visiting fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.
Obada MzaikSyrian-American engineer and entrepreneurFunction
Obada Mzaik is a Syrian-American engineer and entrepreneur who filed a case against the Syrian regime in the US District Court for the District of Columbia for the detention and torture he endured at the Mezzeh Military Airport by the Air Force Intelligence Directorate in 2012. His case is part of his efforts to highlight the ِAssad/Syrian regime’s widespread and systematic detention, interrogation, and torture of Syrian civilians, a practice that continues to this day.