News:  Lebanon News  |  Syria News  |  Palestine News  |  Jordan News Français | العربية


The ongoing struggle of the Tice family
July 24, 2017
Author: Petros Konstantinidis

Debra and Marc Tice held a press conference in Beirut on July 20, 2017, organized by the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom and Reporters Sans Frontières.
“The hospitality of this region (Middle East) is renowned all around the world. Syria is no exception.” These words sound completely normal to almost everyone who has been to Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East. But it is impressive to hear them coming from the mother of a young man who has been held captive in Syria for almost five years now.
Debra and Marc Tice, the parents of American journalist Austin Tice, held a press conference in Beirut’s Press Club on Thursday July 20. Two parents who cannot answer questions about their son’s whereabouts because they simply do not know. Austin’s parents have not received proof of life since a video released in September 2012, six weeks after his disappearance – but there has also been no indication that Austin lost his life. “We have every reason to believe that Austin is alive and is still held captive in Syria,” said Marc Tice. The parents have been persistent in their efforts to find out what happened to their son. American federal officials have mentioned they had “high confidence that Austin Tice is alive, in Syria and not held by ISIS.
Austin Tice went missing on August 14, 2012, just three days after his 31st birthday. He had arrived in Syria four months earlier to cover the revolution-turned civil war as a freelance journalist. On September 26 of that year, a video titled Austin Tice still alive was released on YouTube. Tice, blindfolded, is seen mumbling the shahada (the muslim oath of faith), while his kidnappers cry “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest). By the end of the video, the young journalist is turning to Jesus in a call for help. However, the video’s setting and the behavior of the people appearing in it raised doubts about the identity of Tice’s captors. According to Debra, though, “it is of no use to speculate on who is keeping our soon,” reiterating that the family is ready to engage with “any government or group” to ensure her son’s safe return. She admitted that the response to the 2012 video “was not appropriate” and asked for “a second chance to communicate with Austin.”
Concluding their press conference, Debra and Marc Tice were asked to send a message to their son, in case he was watching them. “We don’t give up. We’re waiting. We’re ready. We’ll get you home. Hang in there,” they said with slightly trembling voices. Debra and Marc Tice are determined to bring their son back to safety. When this story will end, they will know that they did their best to see their son again, giving an example to parents facing similar tragedies all around the world.