BEIRUT: Families of the Lebanese hostages being held in Syria have plans to take their case to the European Union and file a complaint against Turkey, one of the relatives told The Daily Star Thursday.
“We are going to file a lawsuit with the European Union against Turkey and anyone we find responsible for the stalemate in releasing the hostages,” Said Saleh, the son of one of the Lebanese hostages kidnapped in May 2012, told The Daily Star.
“We might also complain at other international levels if need be,” he added.
In May 2012, 11 Lebanese were kidnapped by Syria rebels in Aleppo’s Azaz while making their way back to Lebanon from a pilgrimage in Iran. Two of them have since been released.
The relatives of the hostages, three of whom have been arrested over the recent kidnapping of two Turkish Airlines pilots in Beirut, hold Turkey responsible for the fate of their loved ones in Syria, arguing that Ankara is a main backer of the rebels there.
Saleh said that the relatives had already prepared a complaint against Turkey over the case with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“We had been postponing such a step and waiting for the outcome of the negotiations with the kidnappers, but now we have nothing to lose,” he said.
“It is now becoming our only choice.”
Saleh said the complaint holds Turkey responsible for protecting the abductors of the Lebanese hostages.
The case of the Azaz hostages has become linked to the recent abduction of two Turkish pilots in Lebanon.
Thirteen of the Lebanese hostages’ relatives were charged Tuesday over their alleged involvement in the Aug. 9 kidnapping of Turkish Airlines pilot Murat Akpinar and co-pilot Murat Agca.
The Turks were kidnapped shortly after leaving Beirut’s airport. Akpinar and Agca are reportedly being held in separate locations in Lebanon.
The relatives have denied any involvement in the kidnapping of the pilots, and have expressed outrage at the judicial proceedings initiated against their family members.
On Wednesday, the relatives met with the deputy head of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, who threw support behind their case and hailed their initiative to issue a complaint against Turkey in international forums.
Qabalan voiced support Thursday for the move to file a complaint, stressing the need to use all possible means to end the hostages’ ordeal in Syria.
Qabalan’s remarks came during a meeting with the Ambassador at large and World Chairman of the International Human Rights Commission Shahid Amin Khan, and Ambassador of the commission at the EU Khalil Nsour, and the Ambassador’s commission in Lebanon and the Middle East Ali Aqil Khalil.
After the meeting, Nsour said the aim of the visit was to obtain the blessing of Qabalan.
“We visited today Sheikh Qabalan so we could receive an official signal to go ahead with the lawsuit against the kidnappers on Turkish and Syrian territories at European courts,” he said.
He said the government should have formed a committee based in Turkey to directly follow up on the case with Turkish authorities.
Nsour also voiced his hope that the judiciary would reconsider the arrest warrants against the relatives.