MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Mon 03-Feb-14 16:42:10

Mother of doctor killed in Syria: "I'm certain my son was murdered; all I can do now is fight for justice"

During last week's Syrian peace talks in Geneva, aides to President Assad were confronted by the mother of Dr Abbas Khan, a British humanitarian aid worker whom they say committed suicide whilst in their custody.

Fatima Khan insists her son - whom she says believed he was about to be released, and therefore had everything to live for - was murdered by the Syrian regime. In this guest post, she explains why she will continue to fight for justice for her son.

Fatima Khan

Mother of Dr Abbas Khan, who died in a Syrian jail

Posted on: Mon 03-Feb-14 16:42:10

(27 comments )

Lead photo

Fatima Khan confronts President Assad's delegation in Geneva last week

From the moment our baby is born, mothers feel, to the depths of our souls, that we will do anything for our child. It's a bond of life that cannot be broken, even by death. And so, for my beloved son Abbas, I travelled to Geneva last week: to fight for him, even though he is gone from this world.

I went to Geneva because the representatives of President Assad, the dictator of Syria, were there for talks with the Syrian opposition. I believe that Assad's regime murdered my son, and so I went to do what any mum would do - fight for my child in death, as I did in life. I went to demand answers, to confront them with what their regime did. I knew that, because there was media at the conference, I would get maximum publicity and could shine a light onto Assad's barbarity.

Abbas, whose dream of becoming a doctor gave us such pride, had travelled to Syria to save civilians dying from the regime's bullets, barrel bombs and starvation. He was arrested and thrown in prison; he died in his cell days before he was due to be released home to us in Britain. They claimed that he committed suicide, but we are certain he was murdered.

I have a mother's love, and all they have is hate. I have honoured Abbas's courage and his compassion, by showing defiance in the face of evil; truth in the face of lies. Each hour of each day, I grieve for my dead son, Abbas. It's too late for him - but I can at least seek justice.


A mother losing a child is always terrible tragedy, ripping out part of your very being. If they are murdered, the grief is even greater - and when you cannot get justice, the pain, the anger, is too much. All I can do now is fight - for truth and justice.

And that is what I did in Geneva. Twice I confronted the official delegation of the Assad dictatorship as they moved around Geneva's United Nations headquarters, where the talks were held. I wasn't scared as I shouted at these people in their mink coats, designer sunglasses, expensive suits. Of course I didn't expect honour from those who are the public face of Assad’s regime. I didn't expect respect, or sympathy. I was just an irritant to them, a fly to be swatted. But I shouted, yelled and chased these ghouls.

A spokesperson for the regime delegation, and personal representative of Assad, had the gall to say to me, "Yes, we killed your son. Go back to Britain and tell your British government we killed him." Another official, who works for the Syrian deputy foreign minister, insulted me, telling me Abbas was killed "because his upbringing was wrong". He mocked me: "why teach your son to be a humanitarian aid worker?" Even the women in the delegation showed no remorse, no empathy for a grieving mother.

It shocked me, it was upsetting - but in reality it is normal behaviour for those working for a regime which used chemical weapons on civilians last August, killing over 1,400 people, including 426 children in a single day.

Abbas's killers were the opposite of all he stood for: they snub out life without a thought; he rushed towards danger to protect life, without sparing a thought his own safety. In Geneva, the regime’s spokespeople couldn't look me in the eye, couldn't answer me; tried to show defiance and strength, but in reality scuttled away like rats.

I have a mother's love and all they have is hate. I have honoured Abbas's courage and his compassion, by showing defiance in the face of evil; truth in the face of lies. Each hour of each day, I grieve for my dead son, Abbas. It's too late for him - but I can at least seek justice.

Abbas can never be just a number, but numbers count - he is just one amongst 130,000 who have died so far in Syria. Countless thousands of mums, dads, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, colleagues left with a gaping hole in their world. In Geneva I did something for my son, but hope too that I've helped ensure that in the future, the terrible things that happened to Abbas can never happen again in Syria. There could be no greater tribute to him.

By Fatima Khan

Twitter: @FreeDrAbbasKhan

GingerMaman Mon 03-Feb-14 17:53:51

I'm so so sorry for everything you have been through and can't imagine your pain. I hope you gain the strength to get through this difficult time. As you mentioned, there are thousands of others in Syria who are having to endure such traumatic events on a daily basis. Why oh why is the government not doing anything to stop the tyrant Assad?

Piscivorus Mon 03-Feb-14 18:06:02

I saw an interview with you shortly after Abbas' death and my heart ached for you. I cried with you for your son and think most mothers hearing your words would too. I hope the monsters who killed Abbas can be brought to justice soon.

You are a very brave and honourable woman, your son would be proud of the way you have fought for him and we can all see where he got his courage and care for others from.

Ive followed your story since the media told of Abbas` plight, being held in prison at the time, and the horror with his murder. My heart bled for you, it was all so unbelievably cruel. I am so so sorry, all I can do is hope that you know many many people here think of you and of Abbas. He came across as such a brave selfless man, who put others ahead of his own safety, all because he wanted to help, his life has made a difference to this world. He was that because of you, a mothers love that made him the man he became.

You are a mother that I am sure Abbas and his brothers and sisters are so so proud of. Keep fighting, we have to believe that one day justice will be done.

nicename Mon 03-Feb-14 19:28:49

His death will draw to attention the deaths of those who don't have a voice - those with families too scared to speak out.

His death will make a difference - he went knowingly into an incredibly dangerous situation, and the thought must have crossed his mind that he may not come back. How brave he must have been, how driven by compassion and not anger. He should be held up as an example of the very best of human nature.

I can't even begin to understand how his family must feel, but I am sure they feel pride. We all feel that shock, anger, dismay and disbelief of the family, yes, and hatred too. But hopefully, this disgusting act will fire enough people to act, to turn away from violence.

The events in Geneva has shown the world what (some of) these so-called 'civilised' creatures really are. I am truly disgusted by them but humbled by the bravery shown in facing them down.

His life was taken as he tried to save lives. His story may well continue to save lives and help to resolve this drastic situation.

I do hope that the family finds peace and justice.

mamij Mon 03-Feb-14 19:34:55

I am so, so sorry for your loss. I cried for your loss as a mother. I have followed your story, and couldn't leave without writing something down. You must be so bursting with pride of your wonderful son, so selfless in helping others in need knowing he was working in such dangerous conditions. You were very brave to confront those people so soon after your Abbas' death. Your son must be looking down, so proud of his mother for standing up for him.

MrsDeVere Mon 03-Feb-14 19:51:40

I am so sorry for your enormous loss.
I too have followed your story and am in awe of your bravery and determination.
I wish that one day you will find justice for your son ABBAS.

Moomoomie Mon 03-Feb-14 20:07:12

I echo the sentiments of the previous posters. I too have cried with you for the loss of your son.

scottishmummy Mon 03-Feb-14 20:13:30

Heartfelt condolences to you and family about loss of your son Abbas
Really no words,but I hope you find comfort knowing the injustice is apparent to see
I heard radio4 article your daughter spoke so movingly,I felt so sad

rubyslippers Mon 03-Feb-14 20:14:49

this story has truly moved me

I am sorry for your terrible loss

Nerfmother Mon 03-Feb-14 21:27:17

I can't read your words and not reply. There is nothing I can say that will alleviate your suffering but I will not forget your son's story.

MilestoneMum Mon 03-Feb-14 22:23:01

I too have followed your story and I am so sorry for your loss.

I will never forget your son.

His upbringing was so right.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 03-Feb-14 22:24:11

It is so hard to put into words all I want to say.

Your son was so incredibly brave, Insha Allah he will rewarded for his bravery and dedication. Assad's lackeys mock your son's actions, because such compassion selflessness is far beyond the understanding of petty, murderous gangsters - which is all the Assad consists of.

May Allah grant peace and justice for you and the people of Syria.

bisjo Mon 03-Feb-14 22:41:11

I am in awe of your bravery and that of your son's. I hope you get justice and find peace.

lels99 Tue 04-Feb-14 06:59:18

Your son deserves justice, he was truly brave and inspiring.

JakeBullet Tue 04-Feb-14 07:31:29

Your son was so brave and is a shining example of compassion...as someone else here said, Assad's lackeys will not recognize compassion as they have never experienced it.

My heartfelt condolences to you...from one mother to another. You should not have had to experience this, your son deserved so much more from life.

Much love to you and your family xx

Paintyfingers Tue 04-Feb-14 10:23:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Crazy8 Tue 04-Feb-14 11:16:55

Please accept my heart felt condolences. I am so in awe of your bravery. As a mother myself, I cannot begin to begin to understand what you must be going through. You must know that there are millions of us wanting to see you get justice for your brave, courageous son.

Your words and actions have moved me to tears. I wish I could be more eloquent. I want to give you a big hug and help ease some of your pain.
Your love for your son shines through. You brought him up to be a good, honest man who worked hard to help other people. Your son is not just a number. Your courage has made him real to all of us. I hope and pray that you get the answers you so deserve.

urmydarlings Tue 04-Feb-14 11:40:16

may Allah give you the strength to get through this AWFUL time and I pray you find justice for Abbas. he was truly an inspiration to us all. All my love to you and your family

defuse Tue 04-Feb-14 11:44:02

I have followed the story when I heard it on the news. I remember the shock and disbelief that I felt. You are a brave and courageous lady, your son was brave and courageous too. You brought him up wonderfully well Mashallah. Keep up the fight. Will keep following your story and try to help in any way that I can.

SewingCircus Tue 04-Feb-14 11:52:51

Thank you for posting this. Such a powerful statement, I truly hope some justice will come of Fatima Kahn's fight. When you know the love, joy, hope and energy that goes into raising one life, its devastating to see so much destruction. I applaud Abba's intentions as a Doctor, and I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

colette Tue 04-Feb-14 15:55:21

I also have followed and will continue to follow your son's story... Your post is so moving and powerful. I wish you all the support and love you deserve.

NonnoMum Tue 04-Feb-14 18:19:48

You must be very proud of your son.
I am proud of you for standing up to evil. Please keep fighting for justice.

So sorry for your loss. May you son's death not be in vain.

Doobydoo Tue 04-Feb-14 18:53:20

I believe he was murdered.A brave man I am glad mumsnet have about him on here. I am not pleased that Mumsnet...I feel have dragged their feet over Syria re petitions to Assads wife etc...I think they have been derelict in their duty towards Syrians...children. mothers and fathers and have been obstructive in the past when Syria has been raised.
I feel Mumsnet picks and chooses...I have been a member for years but am rarely on here now for those reasons.
I hope you do receive the justice that is so well deserved and I am so sorry this has happened.

From one mother to another I understand your pain and admire your strength. I have followed your son's story and it has upset me deeply that someone who went to Syria to do good could be treated in such a way. I am ashamed that the British government is doing so little to help the Syrian people and being effectively complicit in the atrocities being committed by the Assad regime through its relative silence. Once again we sit back and watch genocide and suffering happen because there is no financial benefit to intervention (for that read "oil").

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