As the Syrian war draws to an end and the barrel bombs stop terrorizing the country, Syrians are being encouraged to return home by the countries to which they have fled. Those who do so, however, are finding the persecution that caused them to flee has not gone away. Some Syrians who have returned have disappeared into the country’s notorious prison system, a stark reminder of the dangers the country’s former refugees face.
Foreign Policy has spoken to the relatives of two such Syrians, and activists claim there are many more. Several others, meanwhile, have been rounded up and conscripted into the army.
Syria was and continues to be a police state with the same government and the same security apparatus in place, which is accused of thousands of politically motivated detentions. But governments hosting large numbers of refugees, including Lebanon and Germany, are under domestic political pressure to give incentives to refugees to go back home. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned governments against forcible returns, which would be in contravention of international law. Even as host countries comply with this instruction, however, they continue to design policies that produce similar results, to the growing alarm of both refugees and activists. [Continue reading…]
The State Department’s former war crimes ambassador, Stephen Rapp, has said … evidence [of Assad’s mass atrocities] is the strongest since the Nuremberg trials — and that Assad’s “machinery of death” is the worst since the Nazis. [Continue reading…]