On May 14, 2011, for unknown reasons, some of Anas al-Shoghary’s friends and one of his relatives betrayed him, reporting his activism to the security forces. Military Intelligence agents arrested the 24-year-old Anas in the city of al-Marah in Tartous governorate, along Syria’s Mediterranean coast. The relative later admitted his involvement in the arrest.
Since the arrest, the government has not given Anas’ family any information on his whereabouts, said Anas’ brother Ibrahim. “My parents asked them too many times.”
Anas, an economics student at Teshreen University in Latakia, had been organizing peaceful protests in his hometown, Baniyas, and he gave numerous interviews to the international media using his real name.
Former detainees have offered the family patchy information on his whereabouts: Anas was initially held at the Military Intelligence Branch in Tartous, one former detainee said; then he was seen at the Military Intelligence Palestine Branch in Damascus, another reported.
In 2012, a family friend recently released from detention told Anas’ parents that he had seen him in Sednaya.
On August 4, 2012, agents of the Political Security branch in Baniyas detained Anas’ 19-year-old brother, Salah, a high school student. The family assumes security agents arrested Salah to pressure Anas.
Security forces stopped Salah at a checkpoint and asked him to go to their branch for questioning, said Ibrahim. “He never came back.”
Former detainees have told the family they had seen Salah, but officials have never confirmed his whereabouts. One former detainee said he saw him in the Military Intelligence Branch in the city of Tartous. Another said he saw him at the Military Intelligence Palestine Branch in Damascus, and described him as being in disturbingly poor health. “They told us he had been severely tortured,” said Ibrahim. “They told us he was to be transferred to the military hospital, but we have no way of reaching him or knowing where he is.”
The disappearance of the young brothers has shattered the al-Shoghary family, threatening the mother’s health. “She is in the hospital in the intensive care unit, and we don’t know how long her heart can keep beating,” Ibrahim said. “We feel we are losing a part of her every day that she spends in uncertainty about her sons’ fate. I fear that the absence of my brothers might kill my mother.”
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