The organizations also continue to protest the arbitrary detention of many other peaceful activists and others held by the authorities as a result of the legitimate exercise of their human rights, such as the cases currently documented through the Free Syria’s Silenced Voices campaign.
Activists who have been targeted by the Syrian authorities include prominent human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq, who is believed to have been arrested in October 2012 by the Syrian authorities and was later seen in various government-operated security branches. Similarly, Aleppo-based doctor Mohamed Bachir Arab has been forcibly disappeared by the Syrian authorities since November 2011, likely because he participated in peaceful demonstrations.
Citizen journalist Ali Mahmoud Othman, who worked with international journalists in Homs, remains missing after his arrest by Syrian authorities in 2012.
Activists have also been targeted by non-state armed groups. Among others, Razan Zaitouneh and her colleagues Samira Khalil, Nazem Hamadi and Wa’el Hamada from the Violations Documentation Center in Syria remain missing following their abduction on 9 December 2013.
The Syrian authorities must comply with their obligations under international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law, and release all persons detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association or solely for treating the sick and wounded or providing humanitarian assistance. Non-state armed groups, including the Army of Islam and other armed groups operating in Duma and elsewhere in the country, must stop their practice of abducting human rights defenders and release those detained.