Abdullah Aani al-Madi, a civil engineer and political activist born in 1957 from al-Qouriya city in eastern rural Deir Ez-Zour governorate, was arrested in May 2012 by personnel from the Syrian regime’s Air Force Intelligence Directorate at a checkpoint on the road between al-Salamiya city in eastern rural Hama governorate and Homs city, while on his way to Damascus city. He has been classified as forcibly disappeared ever since, with the Syrian regime denying any knowledge of his whereabouts and refusing to allow anyone, even a lawyer, to visit him.
It should be noted that Abdullah Aani al-Madi had previously been detained for eight years from 1990 to the end of 1998, over his affiliation with the Revolutionary Labor Party. From the beginning of the popular uprising for democracy in March 2011, Abdullah was renowned for his peaceful political and civil activism. For this reason, he and others like him were viewed as primary, strategic targets by the Syrian regime, which spared no effort in pursuing, detaining and forcibly disappearing figures like Abdullah with no legal justification.
On January 10, 2024, Abdullah’s family was informed that he had died in a regime detention center, probably the infamous Sednaya Military Prison in Rural Damascus ‘Rif Dimshaq’ governorate, learning about his death from a former prisoner and eyewitness. We are still investigating and collecting information about the circumstances of his death. We can confirm that he was in good health at the time of his arrest, indicating a strong possibility that he died due to years of torture and medical negligence in various regime detention centers. The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) can also confirm that Syrian regime authorities have not disclosed his death, nor have they returned his body to his family.
International law strictly prohibits torture and other forms of cruel, degrading, or inhumane torture. The prohibition of torture is a customary rule that cannot be disputed or balanced against other rights or values, even in times of emergency. Violating this rule is a crime according to international criminal law. Those who issued the orders for or assisted in carrying out torture are criminally liable for their actions.
SNHR condemns all arrest and torture practices by Syrian regime forces and all other parties, more especially those inflicted on political prisoners. We call for launching an immediate independent investigation into all incidents of arrest and torture that have taken place, particularly this latest barbaric incident. We also call for all of those involved in such crimes to be held accountable, from the officials issuing the orders to the individuals who carried them out and colluded in the process. The findings of these investigations and accountability processes must be made public to the Syrian people. All of those involved in arrest and torture practices over the years must be exposed, while the survivors and victims’ families must be compensated for the grave physical, psychological and emotional trauma inflicted on them.