This is probably one of the saddest stories of 2013.
It was announced yesterday that a British doctor who traveled to Syria to treat wounded children has been murdered by the country’s security forces just four days before he was due to be released from prison the Government indicated yesterday..
Now Syrian officials, who have been accused of beating and torturing Dr Abbas Khan during more than a year of captivity, claimed the 32-year-old ‘COMMITTED SUICIDE’ by hanging himself with his own pajamas in the state interrogation center in Damascus.
So why would Dr Khan commit suicide just 4 days before his release,? Well you can make your own minds up about this! Remember Dr Khan was a VOLUNTEER and his CRIME? Treating wounded Syrian children!!
In a statement the British Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson said that the death of the London-born orthopaedic surgeon was at best 'extremely suspicious’ and it appeared the father-of-two had ‘in effect been murdered’ by the Syrian regime. Last night Mr Robertson said the Government was seeking ‘urgent clarification’ of the circumstances of the death.
The surgeon’s sister, Sara, insisted: ‘He did not commit suicide.’
His relatives described him as a ‘brave’ humanitarian who had been killed by members of President Bashar al-Assad’s ‘barbaric’ regime.
My question is had anyone heard of Dr Abbas Khan and his imprisonment before yesterdays announcement that he was dead? I certainly hadn’t .
His brother Dr Afroze Khan, 34, said: ‘We are devastated. We had assurances from the Syrian government that he was going to be released by the end of the week, but obviously they have changed their minds. They contacted her and told her he was dead. It is just barbaric, it is medieval.’
Dr Khan travelled to the rebel-held part of the frontline city of Aleppo in November last year to treat civilians at a field hospital, but he was arrested within 48 hours for crossing the border from Turkey without a visa.
During the next eight months the surgeon, from Streatham, South London, claimed he was put in an underground cell in total darkness, tortured and forced to hurt other prisoners.
His mother Fatima, 57, from Mitcham, South London, tracked him down to the notorious Far’ Falastin detention centre after travelling alone to Damascus in July, and found her son weighing about five stone and hardly able to walk.
She was told he had been accused of treating dying civilians, which has been classed as an act of terrorism.
Dr Khan was married with a six year-old son Abdullah and seven year-old daughter Rurayya. A hand and nerve trauma specialist, he was on a six-month sabbatical from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in South London when he left for Aleppo.
In harrowing handwritten letters passed to Foreign Secretary William Hague by his mother, Dr Khan wrote: ‘I have been violently forced to beat other prisoners, kept in squalid conditions, denied access to toilets or medical treatment.’
Last night Sara Khan, 23, said: ‘My brother wrote two letters to Mr Hague asking him for help. He snuck them out through the prison bars when my mother visited him.
‘He didn’t reply, and he is yet to speak to us about it. He should be ashamed, he should be embarrassed.’
President Assad is said to have personally ordered the release of Dr Khan and observers said the death was an indication of how he has lost control of some aspects of the security forces.
More than 1,000 people are believed to have died in the custody of the Syrian security forces since the start of the civil war in March 2011, according to Amnesty.
Mr Robertson said: ‘We can’t at the moment be absolutely certain about the circumstances in which Dr Khan met his death, but what is clear is that he met his death while he was in prison in circumstances that are at best extremely suspicious.
‘There is no excuse whatsoever for the treatment that he has suffered by the Syrian authorities who have in effect murdered a British national who was in their country to help people who were injured during their civil war.’