Wafa Mustafa

Syrian activist for detainees and disappeared

Region(s): Middle East
Country of focus: Syria
Based in Berlin

Wafa Mustafa (@wafamustafa9) is a Syrian activist, journalist, and advocate for Syria’s detained and forcibly disappeared. She fled Syria following her father Ali’s  forced disappearance by the Assad regime in 2013 and has kept him in the forefront of her  campaigns since.

Wafa co-founded Free Syria’s Disappeared @FSDCampaign coalition in 2023. She is a 2023  non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy  and at Refugees International.

Free Syria’s Disappeared is a coalition of survivors of detention, families of Syria’s disappeared, and human rights activists working for the freedom and safety of all Syria’s detainees and forcibly disappeared. It includes the Action For Sama campaign and Families for Freedom, which among things has pressed for establishment of an international mechanism to release detainees and reveal the fate of the missing.

Wafa addressed the United Nations Security Council in 2020, calling for the large-scale unilateral release of all people held in prisons and unofficial detention centres in Syria during the pandemic. She urged the Security Council to pressure the Syrian authorities and other actors to immediately release the names of people held in all places of detention, as well as their locations and situations; to cease torture and other mistreatment; and to allow detainees  routine contact with their families. In the cases of where detainees have died, she said families must be informed of the causes and given access to burial sites.

Her advocacy focuses on the impact of detention and enforced disappearance on families and women, the rights of refugees, and the urgency of international justice and accountability for the crimes of the Assad regime. She campaigns against the forced return of refugees to Syria and normalized international relations with the Assad regime.