Marie Colvin’s is the first war crime case against the Assad regime. The murder of the British Doctor, Abbas Khan, should be the next.
Ms Colvin, a Sunday Times reporter, was killed in Homs by the Syrian regime in February 2012. The Syrian government tracked and assassinated Ms Colvin to stop her reporting on its atrocities, according to a lawsuit filed by her family. Colvin, a veteran war correspondent, was killed by rockets fired at a house she had been staying at in the Baba Amr neighbourhood.
Her family is suing the Assad regime under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. This is the first war crimes case against the Assad regime. ‘It is about carrying on Marie’s work,’ plaintiff Cathleen Colvin, Marie Colvin’s sister, said.
‘We are seeking truth and justice not just for her, but for thousands of innocent Syrians tortured or killed under the Assad dictatorship,’ she said in a statement released by U.S. human rights group the Centre for Justice and Accountability (CJA) which filed the case.
It is worth remembering that in 2012 no one had heard of ISIS which surfaced in the summer of 2013. The unlawful murder of Colvin has focused attention on the Syrian regime’s crimes against humanity. Journalists were deliberately targeted to stop them reporting the crimes of the regime.
One such crime was committed in December 2013 against Abbas Khan a 32 year old British orthopaedic surgeon from South London who was ‘in effect murdered’ by the Syrian authorities just days before his expected release from jail. Mr Khan was arrested by al Qaeda elements in November 2012 in Aleppo where he was helping civilians. He was handed over to the regime. This suggest some kind of link between al Qaeda and the regime.
Three days before the family were told that he committed suicide, a Syrian government official told the family that Dr Khan would be released within days.
According to an Evening Standard report 17th December 2013:
In two handwritten letters, passed to the then Foreign Secretary William Hague by his mother, Dr Khan wrote: “I have been violently forced to beat other prisoners, kept in squalid conditions, denied access to toilets or medical treatment”. He also experienced male prisoners being beaten to death and female prisoners screaming as they were being abused.
The regime lied to the mother that her son would be released then, they murdered him to stop him talking to the world media.
On 25 January 2014 the Huffington Post reported that Dr Abbas Khan’s family told the BBC that he had died in detention, where he had been for over a year. They said the claim by Syrian authorities that he had killed himself was impossible.
Amnesty International called for the Syrian conflict to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Kristyan Benedict, of Amnesty International, said:
‘Dr Khan’s tragic death reinforces the need for the UK to continue pressing for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
President Assad had ordered his release as a present to the British people before Christmas 2013. But Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad claimed: ‘Mr Khan committed suicide using his pyjamas to hang’.
One of Mr Khan’s brothers, Shahnawaz Khan, said it was ‘a lie’ and ‘pure fiction’ that his brother committed suicide as he had written to his family saying he was looking forward to coming home and spending Christmas with them.
It transpired now that they decided to murder him to stop him exposing the regime’s brutalities within the Assad’s prison system. Meanwhile in London a jury had returned a verdict of unlawful killing at an inquest into the death.
The jury of seven men and four women said the medical cause of Khan’s death was ‘unascertained’, but found his killing unlawful. ‘Dr Khan was deliberately and intentionally killed without any legal justification,’ said the jury forewoman.
The Middle East Foreign Office Minister said those responsible for Dr Khan’s death should be brought to justice.
The U.S. legal case should encourage the family of Dr Abbas Khan to consider suing the Assad regime for the unlawful killing of their son at the hand of Assad’s thugs.