Friends Worried over Fate of “Rose of Tartous”
On June 24, 2012 Sandra Bitar received an ominous phone call. State security, one of Syria many infamous security branches, was on the other end of the line. An officer asked Sandra to visit the branch to answer a few questions. She has not been heard from since.
Sandra is a 32 year old Syrian girl who also carries the Czech nationality. She was born and raised in the coastal province of Tartous where she stayed until she moved to Damascus in hopes of better work. Her friends describe her as brave and adventurous. One friend in particular calls her “the rose of Homs, the rose of Tartous, and the rose of Damascus.”
Sandra has disappeared into the dungeons of the Syrian regime after she went to the State Security branch for questioning. Her friends and family do not know what the charges against her are and are worried about her fate. She previously spent a night in custody when she was detained by Air Force Intelligence, the most notorious of Syria’s security services.
Clashes between the regime and the Free Syrian Army in the capital have escalated in the past week following the assassination of top security officials. “This is the worst time to be one of Assad’s detainees,” said a former detainee who spent 65 days in the same security branch as Sandra. As fighting has spread to Damascus, the worry of her friends has increased exponentially.
Sandra’s friends have launched a campaign in hopes that highlighting her case may compel the regime to release her. They are asking their Syrian activists to hold up her photos during protests and to talk to the media about her whenever discussing detainees.