A memorial event was held on Friday 17 January at the British Muslim heritage Centre in Manchester. The event was organised by Rethink Rebuild Society, the umbrella of the Syrian community of Manchester, and sponsored by Amnesty International UK.
Many prominent guests were there to commemorate Dr. Abbas Khan and the other victims of Syria's prisons.
Salim Astewani, who spoke on behalf of the Syrian community of Manchester, asked many questions: Why was Abbas detained by the Syrian regime? Why was Abbas left for over a year without proper representation? Why did Abbas’ mother receive little or no help in securing his release? Why is it that, when he was reported to be released, he was found dead in his prison?
Dr. Mohammad Alhadj Ali told the audience many witnesses by Syrians who were in prison with Abbas describing how noble he was. Dr. Alhadj Ali declared his passion to turn Dr. Abbas’ detention centre into a hospital holding Abbas’s name.
Dr. Shah Nawaz, Abbas’ brother, gave a very emotional speech about his brother who just wanted to help those who were suffering. He spoke about how his family had spent all their lives in Britain, providing service to the country as British citizens and questioned why their family had to go 30 months without any assistance. “Are we not British enough?’ he questioned.
Lord Mayor of Manchester, Naeem ul Hassan, insisted that the international community has to double their efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, Mr. Tony Lloyd, spoke about the cruelty of the Syrian regime and the courage of Dr. Abbas’ mother.
John Leech, MP, assured that he will pass all questions raised in the even to the authorities, while Gerald Kaufman MP called in his short speech for democracy in Syria.
At the end Jeni Dixon from Amnesty International spoke about the violations of the human rights of the Syrian prisoners, while Dr. Haytham Alhamwi, director of Rethink, Rebuild Society, spoke about launching a campaign to pressure the UK government to push for a UN security resolution requiring the Syrian regime to open its prisons to international inspectors and medical staff. The campaign is requesting the UK government to use all its influence to release thousands of political prisoners in Syria.
During the event, a short video about Abbas was presented that brought tears to all eyes.
The Syrian community of Manchester presented a plaque in memory of Dr. Abbas Khan to the family of Dr. Khan. About 350 people from different backgrounds attended the memorial event and they visited the Photo Exhibition for the Syrian prisoners exhibited in the lobby.
After the event, an article was written about the event asking the Muslim community: "The Muslim community had failed Dr. Abbas just as (they) failed Babar Ahmed, and are failing Shaker Aamer and many others. Another Muslim brother added to the ‘failed’ list. How many do we have on the ‘success’ list?"
Watch Aljazeera Arabic's report about the event: