Account of the Disappearance of Three Members of al-Hussein Family by Military Security
A calamity inflicted al-Hussein family and caused their lives to be turned upside down. The family lived happily and in good a material conditions until security forces affiliated to the Syrian government arrested the mother identified as Hasna al-Mohammad al-Merhej, followed by arresting the father Farouk al-Hussein, then the eldest son Ziyad al-Hussein. Several houses and property belonging to the family were seized thus increased the material, psychological and legal pressure on them, besides they were subjected to exploitation and extortion after disappearing their family members.
Farouk Mustafa al-Hussein, the Father, born in 1964, was a construction tools dealer, the mother, Hasna Mohamed al-Merhej, was a housewife, she was born in 1972, and the eldest son Ziyad Farouk al-Hussein was born in 1992, and had joined the compulsory service in the Syrian Army. The rest of the family are eight members, seven females and one male, and they suffered a lot of hurt following the disappearance of their parents and brother, as five girls were detained for different periods of time, in addition to harassment and insults. The family comes from Homs but lives in Set Zaynab town in Damascus.
The family’s tragedy began after an armed opposition group abducted Ziyad who was performing his compulsory service. Anyway, he remained abducted for six months in 2012 in Damascus countryside. But after they released him, he was wanted by the Syrian Security to investigate him; a routine action conducted by the security services following the abduction of any military personnel fearful of being a defector, not an abductee.”
Ziyad preferred not to hand himself to the security forces and just kept out of sight. However, in January 2013 the security forces arrested his mother Hasna at al-Seka checkpoint, also known as al-Husseiniyah checkpoint, operated by the Military Security in Al-Husseiniyah, in Najha near the Police Housing complex in Damascus countryside, according to witnesses from the kidnapped family. The witnesses said that the mother was detained at the State Security detachment in Set Zaynab at first, and then transferred to the Military Security detachment in Set Zaynab then to Damascus where the family lost any trace of her besides they did not know which side or branch she was transferred later.
In February 2014, Farouk, the father, was arrested by the District branch, known as Branch 227 affiliated to the Military Intelligence Division in Damascus, specifically in Sahnaya at the Kablat checkpoint, as this area is known for having many checkpoints, including Bijo checkpoint and Rino checkpoints.
The family learned that arresting both the mother and the father was because of the abduction of their young son Ziyad. They were told that the parents were hostages until Ziyad handed himself to the authorities. Indeed several days after arresting the father, Ziyad handed himself to the District branch in February 2014, but his parents were never released, and nothing was known about the three disappeared up till now.
A month after Ziyad handed himself, specifically in March 2014, elements of the District Branch stormed the family’s house. At the beginning, they arrested one of Zaid’s sisters, 16, born in 1998, which means under eighteen. However, during her detention that lasted two years, she was subjected to the most egregious types of physical and psychological torture, harassment and abuse. After a while they arrested the elder sister, born in 1994, for two months, and then arrested the elder one, who was born in 1990 and was detained for one and a half year, followed by arresting the eldest sister born in 1986 who was detained for one and a half year, and then the fifth sister, born in 1995, who was detained for a month. This means we are talking about arresting five girls from al-Hussein family by different security branches, respectively, including the District Branch and the al-Khateeb Branch, before being transferred respectively to Adra Central Prison to be brought before the judge of the Counter Terrorism Court. They were released later after discovering that the reason for their arrest was just malicious reports, that what the judge told them.
After the mother and the father disappeared, four houses belonged to the family were seized, and their furniture and money were stolen. Therefore, children suffered from both homelessness and poverty and suddenly they found themselves without a house or money. Moreover, they were forced to leave school and work to make a living, but later they managed to get back a house by bribing some elements of “Shabiha” who were on charge of the security in the area.
The family contacted many mediators who claimed that they could release the family members whom are accused of terrorism, the matter that made children pay all their money to know the fate of their parents and their brother without any considerable results. Syrians for Truth and Justice/STJ interviewed one of the girls who said that the brokers exploited people`s weakness and eagerness to know their families fate, so they fraud them. She added that they became very poor as a result of paying whatever money they had to those mediators.
The family girls were subjected to a lot of harassment specifically on checkpoints spread in the entire neighborhood. The elements described the girls as terrorists, they molested them and tried to exploit them physically, and they promised false promises that they would tell them about the fate of their parents if one of them visited the elements, but those girls always avoided such statues.
The girl whom was interviewed by STJ added:
Our lives completely changed since the disappearance of our family. We get used to live in luxury, good material level and in a family full of love before they disappeared. Suddenly everything changed, we are now living in tragedy and poverty, we are just children who lost their father, mother and their eldest brother and everything changed afterwards. In addition, the security apparatus seized several houses belonged to us, including the main family house; we stayed out of our house for three years before we could retrieve it. We are trying so hard now to work and make a living and not to die from hunger although we are subjected daily to a lot of harassment.”