Group 178, Irvine—Action File

Dr. Michel Sa’adey

On 13 May 1978, Dr. Michel Sa’adey was reportedly arrested or abducted in a street in Damascus by two plain clothes individuals riding in a jeep. He had just moved back to Syria from France, and was intending to start a medical practice, building on his education and experience in France.

Dr. Sa’adey received his medical education in France (industrial medicine and anesthetics) and practiced there for some years. At the time of his arrest, he was living with his brother in Damascus and working to establish a medical practice there. He was volunteering at the Muwassat Hospital in Damascus. His family (mother and sister), who have become US citizens, saw him on a visit in New York just before his move from France to Syria.

Dr. Sa’adey’s family and relatives have not seen or heard from him since his “disappearance”. The family has made numerous inquiries about his whereabouts, but have not received any official clarification of this. However, according to reports received by Amnesty International, Dr. Sa’adey was apparently seen by someone in Tadmur Prison around 1983.

(Note: It has since been learned that around 1995, Dr. Michel Sa’adey’s name was heard on a roll call in Tadmur prison, and that nobody stepped forward to answer to the name. We have not confirmed whether this information is accurate.)

The reasons for Dr. Sa’adey’s arrest are not known to Amnesty International, but these may be political. He is said to have voiced criticism of the Syrian Government before his arrest.

Amnesty International is concerned about the fate and well being of Dr. Michel Sa’adey, both as a victim of a “disappearance” and as a possible prisoner of conscience. The most urgent goals in this case are to seek clarification of Dr. Sa’adey’s whereabouts and well-being, and to demand that he has immediate access to his family, a lawyer, and medical attention as necessary. Amnesty International also seeks the exact reasons for Dr. Sa’adey’s arrest or “disappearance” and his current legal status.

Dr. Sa’adey

Dr. Sa’adey, on left

Take Action

printSend a Letter

You can write your own letter, using the information presented on this page, or print out the sample letter written by our case coordinator, sign it and send it off yourself. Notice that our sample letters have a cc address at the bottom. This convention is used to indicate that, preferably, you would send out two copies of the letter: one to the address at the top of the letter, another, the copy, to the address at the bottom of the letter.

Sample letter 1

This letter is more matter-of-fact.

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Sample letter 2

This letter shows more emotion.

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printCirculate a Petition

If you find a group of individuals who would be interested in writing on Dr. Sa’adey’s behalf, or if you are at a large event with many people, use our petition. Circulate the petition and have it signed by as many people as possible. You do not need to be a citizen or a registered voter to sign the petition.

After Petition is Signed

You can either send the petition yourself, to the address at the top of the petition, or forward the petition to us, and we will send it for you.

Petition: (.PDF Adobe Acrobat Reader format) (.RTF Rich Text format) (.DOC Microsoft Word document format) (.OTD OpenOffice document format)

writeWrite Your Own Letter

You can modify one of our sample letters above and address it to any of the following government officials. If you are writing a letter in your own words, please refer to Amnesty International’s letter–writing guide before writing.

Amnesty International Letter–Writing Guide

Send us Any Responses

Please let us know of any activity you take on Dr. Sa’adey’s behalf. Please forward any responses you may receive, or use the address on our contact page to send us a petition that you would want our group to mail on your behalf. If sending through the mail, please include "Attn: Action File Coordinator" on the envelope.

Syria Government Officials

Write to one of the government officials and CC (send a copy) to the Syrian ambassador to the US.

His Excellency Bashar al-Assad
Presidential Palace
al-Rashid Street
Fax: 011 963 11 332 3410
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Defense
His Excellency General Hassan Ali Turkmani
Ministry of Defence
Omayyad Square
Fax: 011 963 11 223 7842
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
His Excellency Muhammad al-Ghafari
Ministry of Justice
al-Nasr Street
Fax: 011 963 11 666 2460
Salutation: Your Excellency

Ministry of Interior
His Excellency Major General Bassam Abdel Majid
Minister of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Fax: 011 963 11 222 3428
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Foreign Affairs
His Excellency Walid Mu’allim
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
al-Rashid Street
Fax: 011 963 11 3327620
Salutation: Your Excellency

Copies to:
Ambassador Dr Imad Moustapha
Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic
2215 Wyoming Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 234 9548

Background on Syria

In 1969 Syria became a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The following articles from the ICCPR are particularly relevant to cases of “disappearance”.

  • ICCPR Article 9.1: Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
  • ICCPR Article 14.1: All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law ...

The possible political motivations of “disappearances” are addressed both in Syria’s own Constitution and in the ICCPR.

  • Syrian Constitution Article 38: Every citizen shall have the right to express his opinion publicly and freely, in speech, writing, and other forms of expression and to participate in the work of control and the voicing of constructive criticism aimed to ensure the safety of the structure of the Homeland and the Nation and to enhance the socialist regime ...
  • ICCPR Article 19.2: Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to speak, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds ...

The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Disappearance Declaration) on 18 December 1992. Its provisions, while not essential to the work at hand, provide quality additional points that may help vary letter writing. In particular, it may be useful to highlight the following articles: article 19 (2) on information on detention and release, articles 10 (1) and 10 (3) relevant to the prohibition of secret detention, and articles 6, 13 (3), 13 (4), 13 (5) and 16 (1) on the investigation of “disappearances”.

On This Page

Dr. Sa’adey

Read the background on Group 178’s action file, a disappearance case in Syria: Dr. Michel Sa’adey.

Take Action

Write a letter on his behalf.

Background on Syria

Find out about the Human Rights issues in Syria.