Fill in your email address to obtain the download verification code.
Enter the verification code
SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Tice’s parents cling to hope for his return

Friday , 28 June 2013

Ten months after their son went missing in Syria, Debra and Marc Tice say that while every day feels like a recurring nightmare they are still confident that they will be reunited one day. Getting ready to head to Beirut after having spent the summer reporting for the Washington Post and McClatchy newspapers, Texas native Austin was kidnapped last August, two days after his 31st birthday.

His last tweet read, “Spent the day at an FSA pool party with music by @taylorswift13. They even brought me whiskey. Hands down, best birthday ever.”

In September, a brief video clip emerged on a pro-Assad site of a blindfolded Austin, being led by a group of armed men shouting “Allahu Akbar,” but there has been doubt cast over whether these were genuine Islamists or Assad loyalists posing as such.

Speaking a month later, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that “to the best of our knowledge, we think he [Tice] is in Syrian government custody.” The Tices themselves said they would leave speculation up to others.

“We’re not particularly interested in the story of how and why. We’re just interested in getting him back,” Marc said in an interview with The Daily Star Wednesday.

The couple is back in Beirut to try and follow up on Austin’s case, having previously visited in November.

They chose to return now, they said, due to the rapid ground developments in Syria, and the changing situation in Beirut itself.

A renewed diplomatic push, namely by the U.S. and Russia for Geneva II peace talks, has also encouraged the Tices, even though it keeps being pushed back as the two sides squabble over the details.

“There is so much more international and diplomatic impetus happening now. Really all we have is our voice, and we want to make sure that it is heard,” Marc said.

The eldest of seven children, Austin was in the middle of a law degree when he decided to come to Syria to write, because, as Marc remembers, “he was hearing reports from Syria saying this is happening and that is happening but it can’t be confirmed because there really are no reporters on the ground. And he said, ‘You know, this is a story that the world needs to know about.’”

They are reticent to say they have made progress – “progress would be something tangible. Success is when we have him home again,” Marc said. The Tices say they are encouraged that while all the Syrian government originally said was, “We don’t have him and we don’t know where he is,” they have now vowed “to us that they will look for him and that they will hold him safe and release him to us.”

In a close-knit family, Austin’s absence “hangs over everything,” Marc said. The couple recounted all the birthdays and graduations he had already missed this year, but it is also the support of his younger siblings which is so vital to them now.

However, he said, “the days don’t get any easier.”

“It is unimaginable because you know, I wake up and realize it was not a nightmare. And so it’s just that feeling of – another day. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re waking or sleeping, because it’s so unreal,” Debra said.

But while so many other people would be angry in a similar situation, the Tices believe only in forgiveness.

“We’re asking for mercy and so when I feel my emotions tending in a negative way, I just think, I’m asking for mercy, so I just want to be a person who is very quick to give mercy,” Debra said.

Also, Marc said, in a conflict which has left around 100,000 dead and around 18,000 missing, and rendered nearly 2 million people refugees, they recognize that they are not the only ones to suffer.

“If we start getting angry or indignant,” Marc said, in the gentlest tones, “we’re humbled by the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been turned upside down. The refugees, the people that have lost their loved ones. Our pain, frustration, anger kind of pales in comparison to all of that.”

“Where does anger get us? Nowhere,” he added.

They would admit to being frustrated though, frustrated at the lack of a note or a call, from either Austin or his captors, “to know something definitive about how he is or where he is. But most importantly, when is he going to be back with us?” Marc asked.

However, the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, the Tices said, from those who worked with Austin to strangers and officials from the State Department.

Since disappearing, Austin has received two awards for his journalism – the George Polk Award for War Reporting and the McClatchy President’s Award for Journalism Excellence – but Marc and Debra could not attend because, “instead of celebration speeches, they became condolence speeches.”

The message that Austin’s parents want to spread now is that whoever is holding him has gained nothing from doing so, but that “there’s something to be gained from his release. And that’s what we’re trying to get across, and trying to do what we can to make that happen.”

“We have not yet touched the heart of the person holding him. So we have to keep asking, and make sure that our desire for his return, our request for mercy, gets to the right person,” Marc explained.

As Debra added, “There’s no manual for this. We wish there was but ... we’re making this up as we go along, and asking for help.”

Anyone with details on the whereabouts of Austin Tice can contact the family at:

Share News

canlı sex sohbet - sohbet hattı numaraları - sex hattı - sohbet numara - canlı sohbet hatları - sex hattı - bonus veren siteler casino siteleri