An American journalist, Austin Tice, is thirty one years old and has been overseas doing freelance journalism and photography. In August of 2012 he was traveling from Syria to Lebanon, and since his parents have lost contact with him. The more frightening aspect of the missing journalist is a video that was released via youtube in September. The video shows a clip of a blindfolded and distressed man being held at gunpoint by a group of possibly Syrian ‘jhiadis.’
A representative of the US State Department claimed that they have no legitimacy that this man is Austin Tice, and to their knowledge he is still being held by Syrian Authorities. In contrast, the video shows a man being forcedly lead by a group of men who are not the Syrian Authorities. Tice worked for the Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers, both organizations have identified the man in the video as Austin Tice.
His family is traveling to Beirut in hopes to bring Austin home by the Thanksgiving holiday. His mother has expressed her longing for her son to return home and asking that those who are holding him captive keep him safe. She emphasizes how important the people of the region are to her son and that it was his greatest hope was for these families to live in peace. His mother pleads,
“Each November, our family gathers to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, a time of shukr, when we feast and give thanks for all our blessings. Right now, there is an aching hole in our family, a beloved son who is missing from our table.”
The Syrian civil war is affecting bordering countries and unfortunately disappearances are happening frequently. It is estimated that 28,000 Syrians have disappeared in the past 19 months, some higher estimates have been predicted at as much as 80,000 civilians and protestors have simply disappeared. The global campaign network Avaaz has stated reasons for the ongoing disappearances,
“This is a deliberate strategy to terrorize families and communities – the panic of not knowing whether your husband or child is alive breeds such fear that it silences dissent. The fate of each and every one of these people must be investigated and the perpetrators punished.”
The estimated numbers are alarmingly high and a peaceful resolution does not seem to be in the near future. The global campaign network Avaaz and other human rights organizations are working to promote awareness and methods to bring an end to the genocide that is being carried out in Syria. What steps can be taken to reduce the number of disappearances and eventually put an end to the violence? How much intervention from foreign countries or organizations do you think is appropriate or would be effective?