Arzu Kadumi has said she expects the Syrian regime to return her husband, independent Palestinian journalist Bashar Kadumi, who was wounded in a clash in Syria and has been missing for 180 days.
Kadumi urged CHP deputies in particular to demand Syrian President Bashar al-Assad release the whereabouts of her husband, due to their connections with the regime and their successful attempt to bring cameraman Cüneyt Ünal back from Syria in November. Ünal was the last person to see Kadumi after he was shot by a sniper. She also asked the AK Party government for informing her about the results of its initiatives.
“I call on the CHP deputies to keep their promise and contact the Assad regime to learn the state of my husband,” said the suffering wife of the Palestinian journalist. Appealing to CHP deputy Refik Eryılmaz in particular due to his personal ties with the Syrian president, she explains, “The deputies tell me that they make a trip to Syria again if there were any new information, but Syria will not provide any information unless they are pressured.”
Kadumi doubts seriously the honesty of the Syrian leadership on the matter. “It does not mean anything for me to hear from the Syrian administration that they are not holding my husband,” she said, explaining that Ünal, before being taken to prison, had seen her husband speaking to soldiers after he had been shot.
According to the journalist's wife, the Syrian regime knows what happened to her husband but is not able to explain to the world why a Palestinian journalist with a Jordanian passport is being held captive in Syria. Bashar Kadumi previously lived in İstanbul with his wife and two children, and holds a Jordanian passport. He went to Syria to report for Alhurra TV, a US-based Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the US Congress. His wife says that although the TV channel is supporting her financially and deposits her husband's salary regularly, the channel has no further means to help her search, although they sent a delegation to Jordan to discuss the issue.
Mrs. Kadumi, who has been received by both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in the past six months, appreciates their interest in the matter but is disappointed, unable to understand why she has received no further information as to her husband's location or condition. Speaking to Today's Zaman, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü said that the ministry is treating the issue in the same way they would a Turkish citizen, but that such processes may take a long time.
Meanwhile, the Kadumi family is going through an ordeal that is particularly difficult for the children, 11-year-old son Enes and 6-year-old daughter Zehra. Both of them have been informed about the captivation of their father in Syria. “Zehra denies the reality and says her father is working in Hatay,” says Kadumi, emphasizing the difficulty of knowing nothing of her husband's condition, both for her and the kids. “My son cries every night and asks me to tell him if his father is dead,” she says, “He wishes he had super powers to find his father.”
Insufficient awareness on missing journalists in Syria
International journalist organizations release regular reports and statement to raise awareness on the issue of captured or missing journalists not only in Syria but in all conflict areas. However, based on the statements of such organizations, it seems that there is not sufficient interest on the issue, given their efforts often receive no response from the governments.
“We should push authorities to give precise answers,” comments Soazig Dollet, who heads the Middle East and North Africa Desk of the international Reporters without Borders (RWB). Dollet discussed with Today's Zaman the organization's initiative with the UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to investigate the situation of four missing journalists in Syria including Bashar Kadumi.
Dollet said RWB is doing its best to learn about the whereabouts of Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva and US journalists Austin Tice and James Foley. She says that although the Syrian government has claimed to not be holding Kadumi captive, due to their past record of lies she does not find their statements reliable. “There is very little action from the international community regarding the lost journalists,” she adds.
Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Today's Zaman that they also are making an effort to promote Kadumi's case, working closely with Alhurra. He added that in the last year alone, 21 kidnappings of journalists took place in Syria. He called on the Syrian administration to release any and all journalists according to their obligation to protect journalists under international law.
Kadumi and friends of her husband gather in front of the Syrian Consulate in İstanbul every Tuesday to demand the return of the captured journalist.