Paris – Statement by the Syrian Network for Human Rights:
On September 3, 2021, the central negotiation committee in Daraa announced the collapse of the agreement it had reached earlier with the Syrian regime’s Russian-sponsored security committee, which agreed upon the end of the military escalation by Syrian regime forces and affiliated militias in Daraa governorate. The negotiation committee explained that the reason behind the collapse of the agreement was the additional requests resubmitted by Russia and the regime’s Security Committee which the negotiation committee considered ‘impossible’, most notably the requests to restrict the movement of citizens, hinder their freedom to demonstrate and freely express their opinion, conduct searches of all homes, and set up additional military checkpoints. As a result of this decision, the negotiation committee requested that anyone wishing to be deported to a safe place in Turkey or Jordan be allowed to do so.
Two days earlier, on September 1, 2021, the central negotiating committee for Daraa had announced that an agreement had been reached with the regime security committee agreeing upon an immediate ceasefire and the entry of a Russian military police delegation into the Daraa al Balad area, along with the deployment of four regime security checkpoints in the neighborhoods of Daraa al Balad, Tareeq al Sadd and Daraa Camp in addition to the establishment of a security settlement for dozens of persons wanted by the regime, and handing over their weapons, in return for the regime withdrawing military reinforcements from the vicinity of the neighborhoods of Daraa al Balad, Tareeq al Sadd and Daraa Camp, lifting the siege imposed on these areas after implementing all the conditions, working to release the detainees, and clarifying the fate of the missing people five days after the implementation this agreement.
The additional conditions set by the Syrian regime, in coordination with its Iranian ally, will lead to the gradual arrest and disappearance of dozens of residents of Daraa governorate, as has happened with other areas where the regime has seized control and applied similar conditions, such as Eastern Ghouta. This means silencing the residents’ voices completely, and resuming the security bodies’ control of residents’ lives, in addition to ensuring their inability to hold any protest demanding political transition. It is apparent that the fear of the fate of arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, and possibly death due to torture in retaliation for calling for freedom, forced people to choose a less brutal option, that of displacement, which remains less dangerous, compared to the threat of loss of life and freedom.
Leaving the area under the full control of the Syrian and Iranian regimes and imposing these conditions on it without any intervention from the Security Council, or the application of any serious pressure by the international community, will cause the forced displacement of approximately 50,000 residents of the Daraa al Balad area, Tareeq al Sadd and Daraa Camp neighborhoods.
SNHR condemns the brutal and barbarous practices of the Syrian regime that force Syrian citizens to flee for fear of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and the risk of death due to torture, or forced conscription, in addition to absolutely silencing their voices and forcing them to acceptance tyrannical authoritarian rule. There will be no return for the displaced or refugees as long as the regime and its security bodies continue their repressive practices which threaten to increase the outflow of displaced people and refugees, and to empty the Syrian state of its people.
The international community must take immediate action to end the policy of forced displacement and revive the political process that has been dead for years, ensuring a dignified and safe return of nearly 13 million Syrian citizens to their homes.