A rounding up of suspects, arrests, investigations and raids in different areas in Syria has commenced in an attempt to find kidnapped South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed who as of Saturday has been missing for 25 days.
Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers on Friday said following a ceasefire in Syria a week ago, its task team has engaged many role players seeking clarification and assistance in finding Mohamed.
“In the last 48 hours, all kinds of people from all types of groups bearing a range of titles including NGO director, medical director, security representative, investigation representative, have either visited Gift of the Givers’ AR Rahma Hospital or engaged with us in various locations,” the organisation’s founder Imtiaz Sooliman said.
“The message from all is the same – there was no reason for anyone to take Shiraaz.”
During the process, various prisons will be visited to ascertain if Shiraaz was wrongfully detained, Sooliman said.
“The people of Syria have come out very strongly against the captors,” he added.
Another protest and media event has been planned for Saturday by the people, he added.
“The speculation from all engaged is that whoever took Shiraaz made a mistake but to correct that mistake in the light of the civilian outrage is going to be very difficult. The captors are going to face severe repercussions unless they can release Shiraaz quietly without being identified.
“To assist this process, Gift of the Givers has affixed large posters on our hospital that treats 13 000 patients per month.
“The hospital is packed to capacity. The message is conciliatory, in essence asking for Shiraaz to be released in a safe place and in return we will look the other way and take no further action.”
Sooliman said Mohamed approached Gift of the Givers to facilitate his entry into Syria.
“As a renowned freelance photojournalist he wanted to document the suffering of the Syrian people by making available his pictures to the various agencies that he files for internationally,” said Sooliman.
Mohamed was captured on January 10 on the way to the Tukish border. No one has claimed responsibility and no demands have been made since.