Dear Mr. Corbyn,
I was a nonviolent activist in Syria when the uprising broke out in 2011. I participated in peaceful protests and helped with humanitarian efforts. For this I paid a heavy price: I was detained for 440 days by Assad regime forces between January 2012 and March 2013.
I was one of the lucky few who saw life after death in detention. I now live in the safety of the UK with my husband and two children. I have a home, regular meals, and warm clothing. I am surrounded by people who love and care for me.
However, my life is haunted knowing that there are still countless other detainees in Syria – men and women, young and old, religious and non-religious, Arab and non-Arab – who continue to suffer in Syria’s torture chambers. My brother is one of them. I left him behind – and left behind countless other friends that I made in the cold, cramped, filthy, and merciless prison cells – and I cannot come to peace with myself until they are all freed.
Mr. Corbyn, this week from 9-13 October, five women leading one of the most inspiring women’s movements in the world, Families For Freedom, will be visiting London. These women each had a loved one arbitrarily detained in Syria. They channelled their pain and suffering into an overwhelming desire to knock on each and every door to obtain closure and to secure freedom for all of Syria’s detained. They are fighting for the detainees in Syria who weren’t as lucky as I was.
This week, Mr. Corbyn, you have the opportunity to meet with these women, to listen to their stories, to share their pain, and to learn more about what you can do to support their campaign. You have the opportunity to showcase Labour’s commitment to internationalism, democracy, and human rights by championing one of the most compelling human rights issues there are. You have the opportunity to do your part to call for the freedom of all of Syria’s detainees.
Detention is a humanitarian, not a political issue. It affects every Syrian family. The fate of our detainees should be above political negotiations and cannot be held hostage to the whims of political powers. There can truly be no peace in Syria until each and every Syrian family receives closure with respect to the fate of its detainees and until all detainees are freed.
* Not my real name. I have to use a fake name to protect my loved ones in Syria.
** Mr. Corbyn, Families for Freedom can be reached at email@example.com.
*** Assistance in writing the letter provided by Rethink Rebuild Society.