Latifah, al-Beqaa, Lebanon
Latifah is a member of Families for Freedom
One of my brothers died in the bombing during 2018. That same year my other brother was taken. We still have no idea what happened to him. His wife, my sister-in-law, was passing through a regime checkpoint on her way to visit her parents when she was arrested. 20 days later my brother disappeared. We've never been given any information at all. We don't even know who took him or why. It could have been the regime but it also could have been ISIS.
My brother and his wife had four children. The youngest was just nine months old. After they took his parents, he got very sick and died. We can only assume that it must have been the shock and trauma that killed him.
Their other three children are now with me here in Lebanon. I had already left Syria when this happened. I came to Lebanon in 2013. I got moved on to a refugee camp. It was extremely hard to bring the children here. They had no ID with them at all, there was no proof they were my family. It took 18 months working with a lawyer to prove who they were and to bring them here.
At least we have a grave for the baby where he can be visited and grieved. We have nothing for my brother and sister-in-law. We've searched and searched, trying to find any information about what happened but so far we have been given nothing.
Being in the refugee camp makes it more difficult. It's not stable here. It adds more fear and uncertainty to our situation. But we can still search for information. We're going through any channel possible. I will wait for 100 years if I have to, to know what has happened. It is my right. I've made a timeline of everything. Whenever I hear anything, I put in the date, I've got all the numbers of people who tell me any news at all, I've collected everything and it's all on the timeline. So that, one day, I might be able to link it all together and find them. I've contacted so many organisations and given them the names of my brother and his wife, so that if I find out they have died, they can help me find their bodies.
I fear even more for my sister-in-law because she is a woman. How is she coping with being locked up in those conditions? When she gets her period, how does she deal with that? When I hear how they treat women in there I always try to find out more so I can understand what she must be going through. This becomes very hard. I've heard that women are hung upside down from ropes attached to the ceiling. They are harassed and degraded. It's very hard to hear.
But I have not lost hope. One day I believe they will come back. Every time my phone rings I believe it is him calling. I can't describe how hard those feelings are. And they haven't changed over all these years. They're the same, and the same intensity every single day.
I talk to the children about their parents all the time. I tell them stories about them, how they used to live their lives. The eldest boy still remembers them. They say one day we will see our father and we will tell him what good students we were at school. Sometimes when I buy them clothes, my niece tells me I will only wear it when I get to see my mum. She says when mama comes back I will buy her a white dress and throw a party for her and dance with her.
I will never be quiet. The regime uses detention as a way of silencing people. Once they see what has happened to their loved ones, they're so frightened of losing the remaining members of their family that they stay silent.
I want my story to reach as many people as possible. I want people to know what Syrians are going through. To the world I say: nobody has stood with us. We have lost everything and we will do anything to know what has happened.
To my brother and sister-in-law: I'm waiting for you. I'll do anything to get you back.