Fadwa Mahmoud, Berlin, Germany
One of the founders of the Families for Freedom movement, Fadwa is an activist and a former political prisoner. She is waiting for her son, Maher Tahan, and her husband, Abdulaziz Al Khair, who have been detained by the Syrian regime since 2012.
My husband, a member of a banned political party, was on his way home from a political conference in China, and Maher went to pick him up from the airport. At 5:05 PM Maher called to tell me he was at the airport waiting for Abdulaziz and I just felt in my heart something was wrong. There was something different in his voice, an unease. So I called him back ten minutes later to check on them and the call didn't go through. I told myself he could just be out of signal but deep down I knew. I kept myself busy, preparing their food, getting everything ready on the table. I kept going out onto the balcony where I'd be able to see them approach the house. But by 8 o'clock they had still not arrived and I knew they'd been detained.
It has been almost ten years since that day, and I still feel exactly the same. For nearly ten years I've been waiting. It's like a part of my heart, a part of my being is missing. It's so hard to wait like this, it's an ache in my heart all the time.
Every time I receive a call from an unknown number I feel great happiness and great fear - this might be the call that tells me where they are. Every time I call my other son and I don't get through to him, all my anxieties rise up again. When I'm asleep I often think I hear my phone ringing but when I check, no-one has called. It's like my subconscious is willing it to ring. We're all feeling like this. All the thousands of families who have had loved ones taken from us. But I don't let myself think that there is bad news. My mother's instinct tells me they are alive.
This is not just my fight for my son and my husband. This is for everyone who has had someone taken from them. Those who are still in Syria live every day in fear that someone else will be taken. I want to shout and be heard at every opportunity I can, and I will do so until my last breath.
The more I speak out, the more I hear from others that they support what I am doing. They tell me when I am strong, they are strong, I am their voice. This gives me strength and motivation to continue. It doesn't mean I'm any closer to finding my boys but it means my voice is being heard. I've been warned from the beginning not to speak out because it may make their suffering worse. But this is what the regime wants: to silence us. But really, I know they are already being tortured, it won't stop them being tortured if I stay silent.
I'm telling every other family we won't give up. I'm telling the regime we won't give up. We are still here and we are still fighting to be heard. These are the sons and daughters of Syria who deserve to be free. Other countries talk about supporting human rights but they don't do anything. They've done nothing for the Syrian people.