Kidnapped nuns: ‘We want to go home’


February 11, 2014

PLEA FOR HELP: The 12 Greek Orthodox nuns kidnapped from the Mar Takla Monastery in Maaloula on December 3rd resurfaced for the second time in two days, asking negotiators at Geneva work on a prisoner exchange with the unknown rebels holding them.

Interviewed one by one, the nuns insisted they are in good health, though the women appeared pale, expressing sadness to be away from their monastery.

“We hope to go home soon because we can’t survive away from our homes,” one woman told the man filming.

The nuns said they are safe and being treated well, with their captors adding in scenes of them outside their place of captivity in the snow.

“Since we got here, nothing has happened to us,” said one of the nuns, no longer wearing a cross around her neck, responding a man’s questions about rumors circulating at the Geneva II conference and elsewhere that the group had been assaulted and mistreated.

“We are fine, amongst our family and our sisters. We love everyone and, inshaallah, will return to our monastery,” added another, the man’s voice continuing from outside the frame.

The 12 Syrian and Lebanese nuns were kidnapped along with three maids from the Mar Takla monastery in Maaloula in the Qalamoun mountains of the northwestern Damascus suburbs after Islamist rebel groups including Jabhat a-Nusra briefly seized control of the formerly regime-held town during the wider battle to control the Qalamoun mountain range.

The groups are believed to have taken the nuns to the rebel-controlled town of Yabroud 20 km to Maaloula’s northwest, and have said they will release the nuns if the Syrian government releases female prisoners.

“Saudi military leaders from Jabhat a-Nusra connected with Saudi intelligence,” have obstructed the process of “liberating” the nuns, pro-government al-Mayadeen channel reported Monday.

“The people who are responsible for us here are taking care of us,” one of the nuns added, thanking all those trying to free them from their captivity.

The nuns first re-appeared in a video broadcast on al-Jazeera Sunday, confirming that they were in good health and had not been subject to poor treatment, but demanding help in guaranteeing their freedom.

The majority Greek Orthodox Christian town of Maloula, one of the last Aramaic-speaking communities in the world and a major tourist site, is located 55 kilometers north of Damascus. 

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