28,000 Syrians "disappeared" by Assad forces

Activists fear for the lives of thousands of abducted civilians

Published October 18, 2012 9:23PM (EDT)

Since the uprising in Syria began over a year and a half ago, up to 28,000 Syrians have disappeared. Human rights groups say the civilians, particularly activists, have been abducted by Assad's forces, and are feared dead or imprisoned facing torture. The Guardian reported:

A harrowing film released on Thursday by the global campaign network Avaaz shows disturbing footage of forced disappearances. In one incident, three soldiers grab two women dressed in black abayas walking down a street. They hit them and drag them away. In another, soldiers abduct a Syrian man, yanking him by the hair past a tank.

Alice Jay, Avaaz's campaign director, said: "Syrians are being plucked off the street by Syrian security forces and paramilitaries and being 'disappeared' into torture cells. Whether it is women buying groceries or farmers going for fuel, nobody is safe."

Precise numbers are unknown, and some groups believe up to 80,000 civilians have been "disappeared." They note that these figures do not pertain to Free Syrian Army fighters, but unarmed civilians and protesters. The Guardian added that under the regime of Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez, abductions were common during a fierce crackdown between 1979 to 1982 -- "about 7,000 of those victims are still missing."

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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