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Dutch man from Arnhem was tortured by Syrian regime

A Dutch man from Arnhem was imprisoned and tortured by the Syrian regime in the early 2010s, according to an investigation by NRC. He likely died after four years of detention. These findings could result in legal action if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes the case in the Netherlands’ decision to hold Syria responsible for human rights violations and torture.

In Arnhem, the man ran a foundation that attracted radicalized young people, according to his municipality. He went missing while in Lebanon in 2013 and was revealed to be imprisoned in Syria a year later. Under the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he was tortured and accused of espionage and contact with terrorists. 

It is not clear that he traveled to Syria freely. Two of his former cellmates say he was kidnapped in Lebanon by Hezbollah and extradited to Syria. A senior officer of the Syrian regime confirmed that the Shiite militant group brought the Arnhemmer.

A former cellmate also told NRC that, while being tortured, the man “screamed so loud that guards were sometimes ordered to stop.” The Dutch man’s death was reported as a “heart attack,” which is a term the regime often uses to describe death from torture, according to NRC.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was aware since at least 2016 that the Dutch man was imprisoned in Syria, but chose not to help him through, for example, the Romanian embassy located in Damascus. The Dutch embassy there suspended its services in 2012 due to “deteriorating circumstances in Syria.”

(NL Times)

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