On December 10th – the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights –DOZ e.V. was one of the civil society and Diaspora organizations invited to a conference on Profiles of the Missing: Call for Coordinated Action to Address Issue of Missing Persons from the Syrian Conflict by the International Commission on Missing Persons [ICMP] at the Representation of the European Commission in Berlin.
In her opening remarks, HM Queen Noor – the longest-standing member of the Board of Commissioners of ICMP – mentioned the important work by the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves. Over the past two decades, they have succeeded in elucidating 70 % of cases in the Srebrenica massacre precisely because of unity over conflict. Munira Subašić, President of the Association, addressed the Syrian mothers in a way only a woman with a similar experience can. “We learned that we worked more effectively when we worked together, so to the mothers of Syria I say, you have to work together. Only that way, will you succeed.”
Other opening remarks were delivered by Katheryne Bomberger, Director General of ICMP, Hilde Hardemann, Director and Head of Service, Foreign Policy Instruments, at the European Commission, Rüdiger König, Director General, Humanitarian Assistance, Crisis Prevention Stabilization and Post Conflict Reconstruction, at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and Mazen Darwish, Founder and Director of the Syrian Center Media and Freedom of Expression.
The panel consisted of international human rights lawyer Noura Ghazi, activist and co-founder of Families for Syria Fadwa Mahmoud, the lawyer Patrick Kroker, who works with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin, Kotaiba Al-Mashaan, member of the Ceasar Families, Wafa Mustafa, member of the Families for Freedom, human rights lawyer Anwar Albuni, Munira Subašić and Michelle Jarvis, Deputy Head of the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Person’s Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011.
The panelists shared their experiences with the audience and repeatedly urged the international community, and in this case, especially Germany to take responsibility. They uniformly asked for not only moral support but substantial political measures. Wafa Mustafa also argued that all the families needed a change to voice their grievances and that no one benefited from victimizing the Syrian refugees.
During the conference, both, the processes, activities, and collaborations for the coordinated action to address the issue of missing persons from the Syrian conflict by different public and governmental stakeholders were clarified. Only true justice and a dignified examination of all the evidence and testimonies had the potential to pave the way for lasting peace and reconciliation.
In his closing remarks, Mazen Darwish used the opportunity to address the one million Syrians presently residing in Germany; urging them to give voice to their families, their loved ones, the missing, and the detained.
In the spring, the European Union’s role in assisting the Syrian plight for accounting and transitional justice for the missing will be a key issue at third Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region.
“ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from armed conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.”