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Ahmed's brother was abducted by the Syrian security service – dödsbeskedet came after five years

Fyrabarnspappan Samir Afisi was abducted by men who belong to the Syrian security service. They took him in his home in the city of Latakia in January 2013.

arrested or where he's been, or even if he lived. Almost six years later, at the end of december 2018 at the latest, they got the death certificate. Where is Samir Afisi as ”deceased”. The site of his death is said to be Damascus, the Syrian capital. No other information has been provided.

– we are not told how he died and where his dead body is found, it is a constant torment for us.

says Ahmed Afisi, Samirs combat that DN hits in his community, Partille outside Gothenburg. 36-year-old Ahmed Afisi fled from the war in Syria to Sweden for three and a half years ago, along with his wife and his little daughter. They come from the city of Maarrat al-Numan in the Idlibprovinsen in northwestern Syria, one of the areas hit hardest by the war.

Ahmed Afisi, a syrian refugee whose brother was abducted by the security services and were "disappeared" in five years. Quite recently, Ahmed was told that his brother died in captivity. Photo: Tomas Ohlsson

is just one of tens of thousands of people who have been arrested by the Syrian security services since the conflict began in the spring of 2011, and then just disappeared. Or been branded as dead in the brief and bland myndighetsintyg.

Exactly how many disappearances there are nobody really knows. Violations Document Center (VDC) is an organization in Syria that is trying to update itself on the cases. They have, to date, figured 66.928 name. Other groups reporting significantly higher figures.

Read more: mass murderer al-Assad can be tried in Sweden.

Many of those who disappeared are young people who in one way or another had a connection to the opposition against the incumbent president Bashar al-Assad. It does not necessarily need to be some strong ties – it may be sufficient that at some time participated in a gatuprotest, or know someone who has.

Bashar al-Assad. Photo: AP

was 43 years old when he was arrested, and he had not the slightest with any anti-regime activities to do.

It tells Ahmed Afisi who we first meet in the café to the house of culture in Partille, while his wife claus with child kids. Rand, the daughter, soon to be six years old and the son Abudi, who is born in Sweden, is three and a half.

" If I asked Samir what he thought about the revolution, he had replied ”hey, the revolution,” says Ahmed.

He takes out his cell phone and the buttons on the front a picture of his brother. A typical passport photo, showing a middle-aged man with a high forehead and regular features. He looks seriously into the camera. The only remarkable thing about his appearance is the small and carefully trimmed slokmustaschen.

that his brother had very difficult to cope in school, which was extra heavy for him because his dad was the headmaster.

Samir Afisi never came to finish primary school. Despite the lack of schooling, he managed to get a job as a night watchman and all-rounder on the city's waterworks, ”a secure state employment,” says Ahmed.

And he was working extra as a dishwasher in restaurants to pull in more money to the family.

Samir Afisi belonged to the quiet of the country. The wife and the four children were everything for him. When the war broke out in earnest in Maarrat al-Numan, he took the family with him to the port city of Latakia, about fifteen miles to the west.

to escape to Latakia, is that the city is at the heart of maktbasen for president Bashar al-Assad family and the alawite branch of the one he belongs to. Latakia is alawiternas strongest bastion, guarded by Russian military bases. Here was hoping Samir Afisi that his family would be safe.

During the call, we have moved to Ahmed Afisis rental in Partille. He offers coffee and dates, and tells about the war in Syria.

Ahmed Afisi. Photo: Tomas Ohlsson

" I lived not in the Marraat al Numan when the protests against president al-Assad took off. Then, I studied in Egypt, at the university of Tanta (north of Cairo). I read arab history, and was aiming to become a teacher in history.

– In december 2012 I came back to Maarrat al-Numan and Idlib. Then it was basically full-scale war. Free Syrian Army (a faction of the armed opposition) fought over the control of Maarrat al-Numan, both against the syrian nra and against the jihadi groups.

bad between the warring parties. Maarrat al-Numan had become a battleground. Ahmed Afisi was newly married and wanted to have children with his wife. He chose as his older brother to leave his hometown, but he fled to the east, to Aleppo, where a relative opened her home.

In January 2013, he returned temporarily to Maarrat al-Numan, and met his brother Samir in a guest house.

– Samir were there to collect their pay from the board. Then he went back to his family in Latakia. It was the last time I saw him, " says Ahmed Afisi.

in Syria, he remembers as a jumble of escape and upheaval in Syria, patchy attempt to live ”normally” and the constant omnipresent fear of himself to be arrested and disappear, so that his brother Samir made.

" Just that I'm studying abroad made me a suspicious figure in the regime's eyes. I was nailed by säkerhetsfolket a time, but they released me after one day.

the Summer of 2015 became the life in Syria unbearable. Like hundreds of thousands of compatriots fled Ahmed to Europe, via Turkey, a deadly boat ride across the Mediterranean to Greece and then further on to Europe. On August 8, 2015 he came to Sweden. Now he is driving a courier, and plugs at the same time Swedish. He hopes to soon be able to continue its mission as a history teacher.

he and the family made after the Samir. Ahmed Afisi looking at me with something akin to indulgence.

" It is not possible to in Sweden. In Syria, you can end up in danger just because you ask the question. But we have tried to take different underhandskontakter. What makes it extra difficult is that the prisoners are made anonymous, they get numbers, and they are moved around in different places.

– There can be several explanations. Maybe they wanted to just scare the residents of Latakia, to show that no one is safe. Or, they simply got the wrong person. As long as we do not have any information we can only speculate, " says Ahmed Afisi.

Samir Afisis case is not unique. After years of total reticence from the authorities, began missing syrians in the summer of 2018 suddenly pop up as deceased in the records. It was not unusual that the deaths were dated as far back as in 2012 and 2013.

the DN has previously spoken with the syrian human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni. He says that the regime, in the case of any specified cause of death, taken to such as ”heart attack” or ”njurlidande”. But few autopsy reports have the family never got to see.

Anwar al-Bunni, a syrian human rights lawyer. Photo: Hampus Andersson

that tried to cast more light on the disappearances has so far been met by silence.

– A document with a date of death is not the answer. The syrian regime seems to update their records solely in the purpose to sweep the thousands of cases of disappearances under the carpet. However, we believe that the family has the right to recover the dust from their near and dear ones, and they deserve to know the truth about how they died, " says Lama Fakikh, deputy regional director for the Middle east for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Ahmed Afisi live with the grief and loss of his brother every day.

– Samir did not have it easy in his life. He was thirteen years older than me, but in many ways felt he is like a younger brother. In no way do I mourn and miss him even more, " says Ahmed Afisi.

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