The Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Gulf European Centre for Human Rights (GECHR)


The Victims of Enforced Disappearances

31st August 2018


According to the United Nations, enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared but also affects their communities and society as a whole.

Enforced disappearance has become a global problem and is not restricted to a specific region of the world. In fact, enforced disappearance is a result of military and ideological dictatorships – political organisations that believe in military solution and extremism as a means of political repression of opponents.

Therefore, particular concerns for enforced disappearance are (UN):

  1. The ongoing harassment of human rights defenders, relatives of victims, witnesses and legal counsel dealing with cases of enforced disappearance;
  2. The use by States of counter-terrorist activities as an excuse for breaching their obligations;
  3. And the still widespread impunity for enforced disappearance.


On 21 December 2010, by its resolution 65/209 the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern about the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world, including arrest, detention and abduction, when these are part of or amount to enforced disappearances, and by the growing number of reports concerning harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances or relatives of persons who have disappeared.

By the same resolution, the Assembly welcomed the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and decided to declare 30 August the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, to be observed beginning in 2011.


Missing Persons in Iran

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Committee on Enforced Disappearances, during its meetings of the 105th session between 2 and 6 March 2015 in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, confirmed that "there are 513 enforced disappearances in Iran involving political opponents". However, Iranian human rights organisations believe that the number includes thousands of missing people from 1979-1980- and 1987-1988, which more than 30,000 people in Iran had been killed by the regime after ending the war with Iraq, but the Iranian authorities have not recognised the genocide.


Missing Persons in Syria

The Syrian Human Rights Network has documented the disappearance of 85,036 people forcibly in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. The organisation added that "the arbitrary arrests documented during the last seven years have been carried out through checkpoints or raids without arrest warrants, and detainees are denied access to their parents or lawyers, and the authorities do not recognise their presence".

The organisation continue to add that the Syrian regime is responsible for the majority of the enforced disappearances in the country and that it is the first party to start the practice of concealment against its opponents since March 2011, pointing out that enforced disappearances have expanded with the spread of informal armed groups, Such as the Iranian militias, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and others.

Human rights reports also mention the disappearance of hundreds of Syrians by Kurdish militias and other Syrian actors, such as Islamic groups. 


Missing Persons in Iraq

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights called on the Iraqi government to investigate cases of enforced disappearance, which took place in areas where military operations against IS.IS was taken place.

The Observatory groups said that several reports reach the observatory from the provinces of Salah al-Din and Anbar, the disappearance of people between the ages of (15 – 60) years during military operations in the provinces, but the families of the victims did not make any communications with the authorities because they do not know who hid their relatives forcibly, or in to protect their disappeared relatives".

On April 30, the deputy of the province of Salah al-Din in the Iraqi parliament Zia Aldouri, during a press conference held with a number of deputies in the province in the Council, "around 4000 citizens from the province of Salah al-Din were kidnapped by various incidents is still unknown, "Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has the legal responsibility to preserve the lives of the abductees and to reveal their fate”.  


Missing Persons in Yemen

“Rights Radar” as a Human Rights organisation confirmed that the number of detainees, abductees and disappeared in the prisons of the armed group Houthi rose to 16,800 Yemenis from September 2014 to April 2017, but the number reached 20,000 by August 2018.

According to the organisation, the Houthi group has transformed 227 government buildings, 27 medical institutions, 49 university buildings, 99 public and private schools, 25 clubs, 47 judicial buildings and 10 homes into prisons for their opponents in Sana'a and a number of Yemeni cities.  


Missing Persons in other parts of the Middle East

Human Rights organisations also believe that there are considerable numbers of missing people in Lebanon by Hezbollah, Palestine by Israel, Libya by Islamic groups; and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.



In fact, Iran is the only country is responsible for enforced disappearance. The Iranian authorities behind enforced disappearance and crimes against humanity in Iran; the Iranian regime behind establishing the Militia groups in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, in which those organisations are behind the enforced disappearance against opponents, Iran is also played a negative role in increasing conflict in Syria through sending number of fighters and militia to Syria.


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