Lauded author and journalist Yvonne Ridley has offered to travel to Syria to obtain the release of British born aid worker, Tauqir Sharif. ‘Tox’ as Sharif is known, was taken by the Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham group which controls Idlib, in Syria.
Sharif was ‘arrested’, since no ransom has been demanded for him, by around 15 heavily armed and masked men last month. According to eyewitnesses he was injured and bleeding as a result of having been struck several times on the head with the butt of a gun. He was taken from his family home near the Atmeh refugee camp close to the Turkish border.
The Middle East Monitor reports that Ridley is believed to be in direct talks with the group. She said, “I am doing what the British government should have been doing from the moment that Sharif was taken, but he has been abandoned by the authorities ever since they stripped him of his citizenship.” She has been a vocal critic of the British Home Office’s decision to revoke the citizenship of workers involved in aid missions in conflict zones. Ridley added, “Someone has to represent Sharif and stand up for his human rights. If the British government won’t do it, then I will.”
According to the Middle East Monitor, Ridley has experience in hostage negotiations, as well as ensuring that prisoners overseas are accorded their rights. She has posted a video on social media, in which she reminds HTS that she once had been a prisoner of the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the video she speaks about the consideration and respect with which she was treated, before having been released on humanitarian grounds. Ridley embraced Islam two years after her release. She said that she had mentioned her own experience in the video as it had previously helped her to secure the release of other hostages.
Several campaigns have been launched in Idlib, and in the United Kingdom, for Sharif’s release.
Umm Muhammed Umar