Beirut, Lebanon – The previous 9 years for the Palestinian-Syrian Siyyam household have been painful; praying they’d see 42-year-old Wassim once more after he went lacking on April 14, 2013.
Final week, the household recognised Wassim Siyyam in a leaked video filmed simply two days after they final noticed him.
A Syrian intelligence officer in navy garb orders Siyyam, blindfolded along with his arms tied behind his again, to run ahead. As he runs, the officer shoots him. He groans in ache and tumbles right into a pit stuffed with 41 different assassinated males.
It was a bloodbath within the Damascus neighbourhood of Tadamon, only a 10-minute drive from the Yarmouk camp the place the Siyyam household lived.
A horrified navy recruit filmed the vicious incident and leaked the video after fleeing war-torn Syria. It exhibits intelligence officers of the infamous Branch 227 smiling and laughing as they assassinate the boys earlier than pouring gasoline over their our bodies within the pit and setting it ablaze to cover the proof.
“We weren’t certain it was Wassim after we first noticed the video. We’d zoom in to try to see if we might recognise him,” his sister Tasnim advised Al Jazeera, her voice trembling.
“However then my father recognised him by the way in which he walked, mom recognised him by his physique form, his hair and the pants he wore, and I knew it was him once I heard his voice.”
Wassim Siyyam, a father of two who sells concrete blocks, went lacking after delivering a load to the Inner Commerce and Shopper Safety Ministry, his household advised Al Jazeera.
The chilling footage explicitly reveals grotesque crimes that Syrian activists and worldwide human rights organisations have accused the Syrian government and its allies of committing within the nation’s rebellion turned-civil battle. Over the previous 11 years, an estimated 500,000 folks have been killed and thousands and thousands displaced.
Syria at this time is reeling from a crippling financial disaster, whereas President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus stays in energy with navy help from Russia, Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah.
Tasnim, Wassim’s dad and mom, his two adolescents daughters, and prolonged household left Yarmouk just a few years after he disappeared, reuniting in Frankfurt, Germany, with brother Khalid who left early on within the battle. Simply weeks earlier than the household noticed the footage of Wassim’s assassination, his daughters requested Tasnim if she thought they’d ever see their father once more.
Wassim, Tasnim, and their father left Yarmouk camp on April 14, 2013, not understanding it might be the final time they’d see one another. The Palestinian district on the time was reeling from a vicious battle and siege between Syrian authorities forces and allies, and the opposition Free Syria Army.
“That morning we agreed we might all return to the camp collectively simply earlier than midday, however he by no means confirmed up. At 12:30pm we had been ready for him on the camp’s checkpoint, and when my father would name him, Wassim would simply rapidly say, ‘I’m on my approach, I’ll name you again’ and cling up.”
That was the final time they heard from him.
Fifteen minutes later, Tasnim and her father tried to name Wassim once more, however this time his telephone was switched off. At 2pm, they walked again into the camp with out him earlier than the Syrian military and opposition factions closed off the checkpoints.
The household looked for Wassim. “My mom even referred to as all the safety branches,” Tasnim recalled. “When she referred to as the ministry the place Wassim had delivered the load of concrete blocks, they mentioned he arrived and left.”
There have been some glimpses of hope for the household that Wassim was nonetheless alive. In 2014, his father noticed the automotive Wassim used to make his deliveries. “It was with the regime’s republican guards, and the license plate was stripped off,” Tasnim mentioned. “We even recognised the dent on the aspect from an accident he had.”
Wassim’s dad and mom had been too distraught to talk when Al Jazeera contacted them. His brother, Khalid, who over time posted pictures of Wassim on his social media accounts, praying he can be protected and sound, continues to be outraged.
The household says Syrian officers would inform them Wassim was alive and effectively, however would solely assist if the Siyyams paid them. After some time, they gave up and reunited with Khalid in Germany.
“They blackmailed us with 4 million Syrian liras [$7,500],” Khalid mentioned. “However we realised we couldn’t fall deeper into this extortion lure. Could Wassim relaxation in peace, he was such a tough employee like all the household.”
Greater than 100,000 Syrians are lacking, in accordance with advocacy teams, together with tens of hundreds of youngsters. The Syrian authorities holds nearly all of them, but many families await the fate of lacking family members who ISIL (ISIS) and different armed teams detained.
Ahmad Primo, Syrian journalist and founding father of fact-checking platform Confirm, primarily based in Turkey, mentioned cell phone footage of atrocities has been used to unfold misinformation however can also be proof of attainable crimes that can be utilized for victims searching for justice.
“The Syrian regime over the previous 11 years has finished all the pieces it might probably to cowl up its atrocities – as produce other teams within the battle,” mentioned Primo. “This footage may very well be utilized in opening instances for accountability, maybe not now however perhaps sooner or later.”
Within the meantime, the household is attempting to grasp how Wassim’s life might have ended so viciously. Tasnim mentioned she and her household aren’t simply desirous about Wassim however about all the opposite males she noticed killed within the video, and different victims of the battle.
“This isn’t nearly my brother or Palestinians in Syria, it’s about everybody,” she mentioned. “It’s past savagery. God can not create a extra vicious regime.”