On 7 September, Amnesty International revealed harrowing details of traumatic violence experienced by former Syrian refugees after being pressured to return home from regions such as Denmark, Norway, and Turkey. The report was titled You’re Going to Your Death. Between mid-2017 until Spring 2021, approximately 66 refugees, including 13 children, have suffered brutal treatments, such as torture and rape, at the hands of Syrian officers. Children as young as three-weeks-old have been arbitrarily detained. According to the report, five detainees have already died in custody, and the whereabouts of 17 others remain unknown. The former refugees are being subjected to these harsh treatments after intelligence officers declared their decisions to flee an act of “terrorism,” and accused the refugees of being disloyal to their country.
In a testimony to Amnesty International, a refugee, Karim, detailed physical and mental trauma after his interrogation with Syrian officers. Karim suffered anxiety surrounding communicating with people five months after the interrogation, woke up in states of panic and distress, suffered nerve injuries to his right hand leaving it disabled, and suffered spinal disc injuries.
A Syrian mother, Noor, revealed that both she and her five-year-old child were raped after officers questioned her at the border and the officers asked why she left Syria. The officers questioned her loyalty as they asked if she left because she doesn’t like Bashar al-Assad and Syria. They went on to call her a terrorist and asserted that “Syria is not a hotel that you leave and return to when you want.”
In another testimony, after returning from Lebanon with her three-year-old child and teenage son, Yasmin, was detained for nearly 29 hours before she and her son were taken in separate rooms and raped. Yasmin said that the officer who raped them stated it was to “welcome” her. He went on to say they were trying to humiliate her and her son, assuring her she “will not forget [this] humiliation in all [her] life.”
With the government of Syria now controlling 70% of the region since the war has decreased, nations like Denmark and Sweden have begun to reassess the residency status of the refugees, according to Reuters. In an EU meeting on 27 April, Denmark became the first Democratic European nation to pressure refugees to return to Syria after declaring certain areas safe to welcome the refugees. However, according to a UN Refugees report, more than 70% of Syrian refugees continue to suffer in harsh conditions of poverty. They have lost commodities and economic shutdowns have thrust communities into hardships such as “child labor,” domestic violence, and “early marriage.”
Denmark was the first signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention that would protect and endorse the rights of refugees; however, the country has a history of persecuting its displaced peoples. In 2016, a legislation termed the “jewelry bill” was passed to usurp the belongings of refugees valuing up to 10,000 Danish kroner ($1,453), according to CNN. These valuables included electronic devices but excluded items such as family heirlooms, wedding bands, engagement rings, etc. Amnesty International stated that the law reflected a “dismal race to the bottom.” In 2019, Denmark also began to reassess the residency status of refugees that fled from Damascus, and surrounding cities. As a result, approximately 300 refugees were denied any sort of residential extension, and 400 refugees are continuing to be reassessed according to CNN.
Chemical bombings, airstrikes launched by foreign nations, the collapse of healthcare and education systems, the destruction of homes, and the broken futures of children have shattered the people of Syria. Instead of funding and supporting the nations known to deliberately cause bloodshed, the Syrian people need immediate assistance in obtaining basic resources that could ease the hardships they face. Global citizens can help Syrian refugees and victims by donating to organizations such as Sunrise USA so they can send containers of clothing, blankets, and medical supplies; Doctors Without Borders so they can provide necessities to medical facilities; and Narenj Tree Foundation so they can aid refugees in need. The shoulders of the elders have been weakened from carrying the coffins of their children; the roaring sounds of missiles have become lullabies for the children who live. But the sharing of resources could help every single impacted individual.
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