Denmark gets info on “safety” for returning Syrians from senior Assad regime officer

May 02, 2021

After the news spread that Denmark had not renewed the residency of dozens of Syrians, based on its 2019 report that the governorate of Damascus was “safe” for Syrian refugees to return, Syrian human rights activist Mansour Al-Omari set about researching the sources of this misleading report, and to assess what had led Denmar’s government to classify the area as “safe”. He found that one of the main sources in the report was Major General Naji Numeir, director of the Assad regime’s Immigration and Passports Department.

The Immigration and Passports Department of the Assad regime’s Ministry of Interior is a governmental department and represents exclusively the viewpoint of the Assad regime, meaning that it is in no way neutral and does not present facts, but rather political propaganda approved by the Assad regime. The Danish government's report did not refer to this fact, instead relying on Major General Namir as a credible source of information without giving any background.

The Minister of Interior, who is directly responsible for managing immigration and the official supervising Major General Namir, is Major General Muhammad Khaled Rahmoun, who is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, enforced disappearance, and the use of chemical weapons.
Rahmoun was promoted in Assad's intelligence services from heading the Daraa branch of the regime’s infamous Air Force Intelligence Directorate in 2004, to heading the AFID branch in the southern region of Harasta in Damascus countryside in 2011, having attained the rank of brigadier general. In 2017, he assumed the leadership of the regime’s ‘Political Security’ directorate, with the rank of Major General.
Major General Numeir cannot provide any information to any foreign entity without the approval of his boss, Major General Rahmon, the Minister of Interior and scion of Bashar Al-Assad's ‘Air Force Intelligence Directorate’. Rahmoun's work history indicates his direct responsibility for killing and torturing tens of thousands of Syrians and forcibly ‘disappearing’ them throughout his time as head of the AFID in Harasta and later as head of the ‘Political Security directorate, having supervised arrests and incursions in the Harasta, Arbin, Douma, and Barzeh and Qaboun neighborhoods, and been directly involved in interrogation and torture operations in Harasta. In this branch, known informally as the ‘Death Branch’, tens of thousands of Syrians were detained and killed under torture, with the remaining detainees forced to “support the war effort” by digging trenches and tunnels near the branch building. Rahmon, who was also one of the supervisors of chemical weapons testing operations in the AFID’s notorious ‘Unit 417’, is involved in the responsibility for the chemical attack on Ghouta in 2013. He is also subject to US sanctions.

The Minister of Interior directly supervises the work of the Immigration and Passports Department and with the express admission of its director, Numeir, who has stated on more than one occasion that the Minister monitors the department's work. The minister's interventions extend even to the regulation of how to obtain passports and the period of their issuance, and the issuance of decisions, executive instructions and regulations pertaining to the administration.

All this means that Denmark has relied in its reports on Syria on the fabrications of war criminals, and statements by thugs whose heinous crimes led millions of Syrians to flee the country seeking safety for themselves and their families, with the claims of these war criminals, torturers and murderers given credibility denied to the survivors of their heinous crimes. Meanwhile, the testimony of the survivors of these criminals’ atrocities, the contribution of international jurists, and the numerous impartial and objective reports providing damning evidence of these officials’ criminality have been ignored and neglected. Instead, Denmark has chosen to adopt the narrative of war criminals to justify its hostility to refugees and to prepare the way for further abuse towards them and ultimately for deportation.

It appears that Denmark continues to ignore the facts and the life-threatening dangers facing any Syrians who have opposed Assad’s regime and supported freedom and democracy on being returned to Syria, and continues its racist campaign against non-white or Muslim refugees.

Denmark has not hesitated to publish advertisements that promote fear among Syrians and attempt to prevent them from coming to Denmark. Some have suggested that Syrian or international human rights organizations should publish articles and reports in Danish newspapers about Assad's crimes to remind people there of the severe danger facing any dissident returned to Syria, in order to counter the lies of the Danish government. Refugees also have the right to publish posters and articles exposing Denmark's lies and Assad's crimes on the streets of Denmark, just as Danish extremists have published false declarations that Syria is "safe."

Syrians must confront the Danish campaign with the power of law and the media, and should consider being stopped in the street and harassed with offers of tickets to Syria as a form of illegal harassment. Silence in the face of Denmark's immoral and legally questionable actions leads to the persistence of extremism, and confronting these individuals with the law could at least help to protect the refugees from racial harassment.

It is possible to verify the death of a refugee due to the complications of not granting him residency, and to investigate the illegal decision that contributed to the death of this refugee to hold those responsible legally accountable.

It is also possible to examine the devastating psychological consequences of Denmark's practices towards refugees and to consider the possibility of judicial accountability.

By Mansour Al Omrani, Enab al Baladi
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