BEIRUT: A U.S. court has agreed to look into the case of Syrian dissident Shibli Aisamy after his family filed an international lawsuit in the case, Aisamy’s daughter, Rajaa Sharafeddine, told The Daily Star Monday.
“The court hasn’t yet declared that it has accepted the case as it is waiting to finalize a number of procedures, but we were informed that the case was accepted,” Sharafeddine said.
Asked how a U.S. court could look into the case, she said her father held a diplomatic passport.
“My father is a diplomat, he holds a diplomatic passport ... that has made the case easier to get accepted,” Sharafeddine said.
She said the case of her father involved the kidnapping from one country to another and therefore counted as an international case.
Aisamy’s daughter said the step taken by the court aimed at pressuring the Syrian regime, which the Shibli family believes is behind the kidnapping of the Baath Party founder, in order to reveal his whereabouts.
Sharafeddine said the decision to turn to U.S. courts came after Lebanese authorities’ lack of progress in the case.
“With nothing clear about my father’s fate, we resorted to the judicial authorities in the U.S. because the Lebanese authorities proved to be futile in this regard and luckily the court accepted the case,” she said.
Aisamy, 88, who served as a Syrian vice president in the 1960s, disappeared in May last year after leaving his daughter’s home in Aley, Mount Lebanon, for a walk.
His family has repeatedly called on leaders of the Lebanese opposition and pro-Syrian parties, including Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, to intercede with the Syrian regime to secure his release and determine his fate.
“Very few politicians supported us, although we have continuously highlighted the value of my father as an intellectual,” she said.
Aisamy’s disappearance came almost two months after the Syrian uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad broke out.
Sharafeddine reiterated that she believed her father was being held in Syria. She also suggested her father might have been kidnapped because of the scope of knowledge he had acquired over the years given his position in the Syrian hierarchy.
“My father left politics ever since 1992 so there was no apparent reason for his disappearance. I’d say that the Syrian regime was scared of him because he has a lot of historical information,” Sharafeddine said. “My brother, Bashar, was politically active over the Internet when the Syrian revolution broke out, this might be an additional reason for my father’s kidnapping.”
“We definitely couldn’t see that coming ... If my father was planning to go back into politics, he wouldn’t have stayed in Lebanon and jeopardized his life,” she added.
As she described how patient, modest and deep her father was, Sharafeddine said her upbringing was the thing that allowed her to cope with her father’s disappearance.
“If it wasn’t for the strength he bestowed in us, we wouldn’t have been able to endure what happened,” she said. “I have no idea if he is dead or alive and that is very hard.”
Sharafeddine also said the family has been printing books her father wrote to introduce his work to the public.
“Maybe if they read some of his work, they would do something ... maybe his writings will motivate public opinion to raise its voice and demand that his fate be uncovered,” Sharafeddine said.