In Brief

75,000 Syrians 'disappeared' by Assad regime

Amnesty launches a campaign against abduction to mark International Day of the Disappeared

More than 75,000 people have disappeared after being seized by the Assad regime since the start of the Syrian civil war.

The statistic comes from the UK-based Syrian Network for Human Rights, which has compiled monthly reports on the number of disappeared since the conflict began in 2011. Victims range from senior politicians to ordinary families picked up at checkpoints for routine examination of paperwork.

The figure was cited by Amnesty International, which is launching a campaign to highlight abductions in conflict areas to mark International Day of the Disappeared.

To raise awareness of the plight of detainees, Amnesty "is calling on the UN to do more to get the issue on the international agenda, and has accused the organisation of paying lip service to the concern", The Guardian reports.

Amnesty's Middle East research director, Philip Luther, said: "The plight of those who have vanished after being arrested by the authorities or detained by armed groups is a tragedy that has been largely ignored internationally."

An Amnesty report published in February revealed the Syrian government had secretly hanged as many as 13,000 Assad opponents at the country's most notorious prison, Saydnaya, during the first five years of the conflict.

Abductions without trace "have been a hallmark of the Syrian government since long before the time of the current president", says The Times.

While abductions been used as a tool of intimidation against opposition politicians for decades, ordinary Syrians have also disappeared in large numbers, "many presumed to have simply died under torture", says the paper.

Writing for HuffPost UK, UK special representative for Syria Gavin Bayley says "the worst part for many Syrians is not knowing" what has happened to family members. The Assad regime refuses to disclose the names of many of those it has detained, or acknowledge how many are being held prisoner.

Bayley reiterated the UK's position, calling for "a transition away from the Assad regime" and urged the government to release all those it has illegally and arbitrarily detained.

"This is a crucial step to building an inclusive process," he said, which will "enable a political settlement to end the conflict."

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