On May 21-23, 2014, Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, president of the Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice (SCTJ) and executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS), visited Tunisia to participate in a regional meeting that was held by International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and the Justice and Rehabilitation Association, an association established by former political prisoners to advocate for the rights of prisoners of conscience.
Dr. Ziaden took part in a special training session on oral history, which aims to document the historical memory of the victims of conflict. The Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice is currently implementing oral history programs in cooperation with a variety of Syrian civil society organizations, the most notable of which is the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Victims of the Syrian Revolution, established last year.
Furthermore, Dr. Ziaden met members of the Truth and Dignity Committee, an official committee formed by the Tunisian Constituent Assembly to follow up on post-revolution transitional justice cases by revealing the truth of the violations committed in the past, and issuing reparation to the victims of the former Tunisian regime’s crimes. Also, Dr. Ziadeh met with a number of Tunisian civil society activists and victims’ families.
Tunisia passed a transitional justice law through the Tunisian Constituent Assembly and formed a 15-member Truth and Dignity Committee that includes human rights activists, former political prisoners, and representatives of the civil society and associations for the defense of the rights of the victims.
Later, Dr. Ziadeh visited An-Nathour prison and Ar-Roumi tower, the location of the so-called Al-Kahf prison, considered one of the most horrible and degrading prisons in the Middle East. Al-Kahf was built underground as a military base but was used later to detain political prisoners for limited time. Al-Kahf prison lacked any humanitarian conditions and was a symbol of brutality and torture under the Ben Ali government. The visit was the first of its kind and civil society organizations are considering turning it into a historical museum to reveal the history of torture and political arrest throughout Tunisian history.
On May 23, 2014, Dr. Ziadeh gave a presentation on Syria Transition Roadmap, a document recently published by SCPSS and the Syrian Expert House detailing the Syrian opposition’s vision of the democratic transition in Syria. Dr. Ziadeh gave the talk at a public event hosted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy entitled, “A Plan for and the Future of the Democratic Transition in Syria.”