It was a Valentine's Day 2017 telephone name that left Maryam Kamalmaz – then 31 and main a quiet household life in Texas – uncooked.
Her father, the famend psychotherapist and humanitarian Majd Kamalmaz, had been taken by Syrian authorities forces after being stopped at a Damascus checkpoint. His disappearance got here lower than a day after he ventured into the war-torn nation of his start following a dying within the household. He additionally went to supply skilled assist to these traumatized by the nation's protracted civil warfare.
The 61-year-old Syrian-American has not been heard from since, however his spouse and 4 youngsters within the U.S. refuse to surrender the battle for his freedom, and have launched their very own "Free Majd" public marketing campaign.
"We now have been looking for his actual location for some time, we put out ads on Fb," Maryam Kamalmaz informed GaHealthy. "We're simply searching for whoever may know one thing to succeed in out to us; we're ready for any results in are available. We wish to guarantee he's nonetheless alive."
Majd Kamalmaz was taken by Syrian authorities forces after being stopped at a checkpoint in Damascus in February 2017
However the silence has been deafening. The household acquired credible proof-of-life months later, from a detainee in a Syrian navy jail cell on the fringes of Damascus. He stated he conversed first-hand with Majd.
"My dad observed this different detainee's anxiousness; he went over and began comforting him and sharing what little meals he had with him. This man informed us he might always remember our father – his compassion and the best way he cared," Maryam known as.
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In spite of everything, her dad had devoted his life to the service of others and holding the palms of damaged, anguished people trapped in trauma.
Majd Kamalmaz – who immigrated to the U.S. as a boy along with his mother and father – wished to make use of his abilities as a therapist to assist others from his first dwelling, and within the warmth of the warfare opened a psychosocial therapeutic heart for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Nevertheless, his devotion to enhancing the psychological well being of others – normally paying from his personal pocket to take action – began lengthy earlier than the eruption of the Syrian warfare in 2011.
Maryam Kamalmaz stated that as a baby, she watched her father come and go from pockets of the planet the place he thought he might make a distinction, nonetheless modest.
"Every time a pure catastrophe struck, he was there. He labored in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina," she stated. "When the tsunami hit Indonesia, Majd went there to serve others. He additionally labored with warfare victims in Kosovo and Bosnia following the catastrophic wars in these nations."
Happier occasions: Majd Kamalmaz along with his grandchildren within the U.S.
Those that know or labored with Kamalmaz describe him as a delicate soul who lights up a room - somebody who's soft-spoken and who goes out of his away to make others really feel just a bit bit higher about themselves.
"He wasn't political, it wasn't a Syrian activist," his daughter emphasised. "He simply needs to assist individuals who wanted assist."
Within the preliminary months after Kamalmaz's apprehension, the Czech ambassador to Syria – who acted as a go-between for the U.S. on condition that Washington had severed diplomatic relations with Damascus – informed the household that Syrian officers confirmed he was of their custody. However the story later modified, and Damascus denied the American citizen was ever held there.
In 2018, Maryam heard that her father was seen alive, though it was not as credible as the primary sighting. And for 2 years, not a phrase.
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Whereas Majd didn't maintain a Syrian passport and really a lot recognized along with his American upbringing, the Bashar al-Assad authorities in Syria doesn't acknowledge twin citizenship. It routinely treats anybody born within the nation as a sole citizen, making launch negotiations all of the tougher for Washington's inter-agency hostage restoration fusion cell.
The cell was fashioned at then-President Obama's behest in 2014, following criticism over discombobulated endeavors to free Individuals and the outcry over the beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
The Trump administration, which has made securing the discharge of Individuals unjustly detained a precedence, has garnered a lot success in the previous couple of months. U.S. Navy veteran Michael White was free of Iran and NASA scientist Serkan Golge returned dwelling from Turkey. It has been working quietly to collect extra info on Majd Kamalmaz's whereabouts and standing.
A handout image launched by the Syrian Arab Information Company (SANA) exhibits Syrian President Bashar al-Assad casting his poll on the structure that would finish 5 many years of single-party domination, as his spouse Asma appears to be like on at a polling station in Damascus, on February 26, 2012. (AFP through Getty Pictures)
"The U.S. Authorities is in frequent contact with the Kamalmaz household to offer assist and knowledge. President Trump has made it clear that the protection and safety of all Individuals is a prime precedence," Amb. Roger Carstens, particular presidential envoy for hostage affairs, informed GaHealthy in a press release. "Bringing dwelling Majd, together with all U.S. residents held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas, has the eye of the best ranges within the U.S. authorities."
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For the Kamalmaz household, the void and the method is as painful as it's difficult.
"It is the toughest for my mom, she cries every single day, and she will't take pleasure in something. How can we exit and have any enjoyable after we do not know the place he's?" Maryam added. "However we all know it is a work in progress; we're engaged on it. We cannot quit on our father."
Hollie McKay has a been a GaHealthy Digital employees reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from warfare zones together with Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, and Latin America investigates world conflicts, warfare crimes and terrorism all over the world. Observe her on Twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay