Report on Kahlil Maatouk
The following report was written by Raneem Khalil Maatouk, daughter of Khalil Meree Maatouk. Raneem was born on January 1, 1991 in Homs, Syria. On February 1, 2013, Raneem was arrested in her home during a neighborhood-wide security check, by Syrian authorities. She was taken to Branch 311 of military intelligence in Kafar Souseh, Damascus and remained there for two months. Following her two month detention in Kafar Souseh, Raneem was transferred to Adra prison. She was released on June 12, 2014. Raneem left Syria in October 2014 and is currently based in Neubrandenburg, Germany.
Khalil Meree Maatouk of Homs City, Syria was born on December thirteenth, 1959. He studied law in Damascus, where he lived with his wife Fadya Saad and their two children Wajed and Raneem, in an area known as Sahnaya. Khalil graduated in 1990 from the University and worked as a lawyer. Soon after, he began his work as a human rights defender. He served as the Director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research and head of the Defense of Prisoners of Conscience in Syria. For twenty years, Khalil worked on cases of peaceful political prisoners.
Khalil’s disappearance happened on October 2, 2012, while with his friend Mohammad Zaza. Due to a debilitating disease of the lungs, Khalil was unable to drive the car and was escorted by Mohammad. They were on their way to Khalil’s office in the city centre of Damascus when security forces took them. There were no witnesses. Although regime security officials denied accusations of holding Khalil and Mohammad, people reported seeing the two men in regime-run detention centers. When I was arrested, the detective responsible for me told me that regime security forces had my father.
For the following three and a half years, no information was released regarding Khalil and Mohammad. The regime continues to deny knowledge of their whereabouts and well-being. We asked and paid money to people who had contact with police officers, but no news was given. We tried to have their names added to the de Mistura mission. Outside Syria, several human rights and legal organizations demanded information and demanded for their release.
We continued to speak about my father and his friend’s case while in Germany. As well, I spoke to the UN about similar cases that Amnesty reported on, regarding the disappearances of Syrians.
I am Raneem Maatouk, daughter of Khalil Meree Maatouk. My father is the most wonderful person I have ever met. He always sought out nature, as it is the place he is most interested in. My father is known for his beautiful smile. People regularly mention this feature, as he is a man who smiles during even the most difficult circumstances. Always, in his work with prisoners, he treated them as if they were his own children and family. My father was known for his courage, for fearing nothing. He is a strong father with a smile that will never cease.