It is our conviction that justice is the solid foundation upon which sustainable peace is built, and that without justice, only violence and vengeance will prevail. Oppression, injustice and impunity are among the root causes of extremism and ongoing conflict. We are a group of families of ‘Caesar’ detainees, whose released photos became known as the ‘Caesar Photographs’. We desire a better future for our country and its people – one that is based on genuine transitional justice. For these reasons, we announce the establishment the Caesar Families Association (CFA) as as a non-profit civil society organisation in cooperation with and support from:
- Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
- Violations Documentation Center (VDC)
To achieve this objective, we’ve worked throughout the past year to coordinate several meetings, including one in Berlin in February 2018, where we met a number of representatives from the following international bodies:
- International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM)
- International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP)
- European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)
- International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR)
- Euro-Mediterranean Foundation to Support Human Rights Defenders (EMFHR)
We have set the following objectives for the CFA:
- Work to retrieve the remains of the victims’ bodies in order to ensure burials that respect human dignity and families’ rituals.
- Secure psychological and legal support to the families of victims and help them overcome the repercussions of these crimes.
- Guarantee the rights of victims and their families, memorialize the victims, and restore their dignity.
- Contribute to the release of detainees, the forcefully disappeared, the kidnapped, and pressure for the disclosure of the whereabouts of the missing.
- Work to end impunity and strive for the establishment of a special court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Support a transitional justice process based on fairness and accountability.
- Contribute to genuine and sustainable peace-making based on justice, citizenship and human rights.
Moreover, the CFA will work to advocate for the rights of detainees and those who disappeared at the hands of the Syrian regime and others parties to the conflict. We aim to end the torture and killing of detainees and to fight for their release, as well as for the disclosure of the fate of the victims. We will work to guarantee their rights and to combat impunity for the crimes committed against them.
The CFA calls on all victims of torture in Syria and their families to support us in our long way towards justice so that solidarity can be built. We also call on all concerned officials, human rights activists, and journalists to prioritize our cause and exert all possible efforts for the CFA and on the behalf of victims of some the most heinous crimes humanity has ever witnessed. So that we can prevent our loved ones from becoming mere numbers and images for exhibition.
We would like to stress that our association will not hesitate to exhaust all possible opportunities to pursue justice. We will continue to support the efforts of victims’ families and to connect with them wherever they may be in order to achieve our objectives, restore their rights, and ensure that criminals receive their due punishments.
The Founding Committee:
For more information:
Website (currently under construction): www.caesarfamilies.org
Maher Samaan: Advocacy Manager at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
Mona Zeineddine: Director of Communications at the Violations Documentation Center (VDC)