It has been two years since our son, freelance journalist Austin Tice, was taken captive near Damascus, Syria where he was reporting for McClatchy News, the Washington Post, CBS and others. We have had no contact from Austin or his captors; we still do not know where he is or who is holding him.
Austin put his education at Georgetown Law School on hold, first to fulfill his sense of duty to serve his country, and again to pursue his calling as a journalist. Austin is proud to be the eldest brother, an uncle, an Eagle Scout, a Georgetown University graduate, a Marine Corps veteran, and a widely published freelancer. He respects loyalty, discipline, ambition, courage, and commitment. With his absence, a huge chunk of our life is missing. As his parents, we cannot give ourselves fully to the present because we remain suspended in the day Austin went missing, a day which is now 17,520 hours long.
As we relentlessly pray and work for Austin, we are continually unsettled by disturbing questions about his welfare. What does he eat? Does he see the sky? Is he alone? What challenges is he facing day-to-day? Does he know we are looking for him? How does he mark the time; does he know two years have passed? In those two years, along with the significant dates on the calendar and the once-in-a-lifetime events dampened by Austin’s absence, there are also the small daily moments - joys, challenges, blunders and blessings – which have not been shared and cannot be relived.
We do not want Austin to be forgotten. We fervently pray for him. We continue to do everything we think of to bring our son safely home. We sincerely appreciate each person who has helped and supported us. Words cannot fully express the depth of our gratitude for every bit of every kind of help we have received. Please keep thinking of Austin, please keep searching, and please keep praying for his well-being and safe return.
To those holding Austin, we ask you to treat our son well and return him to us safely and soon. Austin is a man of good character, and his effort to tell the world about what is happening in Syria – from all perspectives – is honorable. We will not give up; we want to see our son safely home. May it be soon, according to God’s will.
Marc and Debra Tice
We hope the amnesty President al-Assad announced today will lead to the reunion of many families with their loved ones, and we pray it will encourage Austin's captor's to quickly and safely release Austin so our family, too, may be reunited.
President al-Assad grants general amnesty on crimes committed before June 9th, 2014
Damascus, (SANA) President Bashar al-Assad issued Monday Legislative Decree no. 22 for 2014 granting a general amnesty for crimes committed before June 9, 2014.
The amnesty commutes sentences with more lenient ones, including commuting the death sentence to life penal labor, life penal labor to 20 years of penal labor, and life in prison to 20 years in prison.
The amnesty also commutes the entire duration of the sentence for convicts with incurable terminal illness, convicts who are 70 or above, and for convicts of several crimes and misdemeanors, including abduction if the abductor frees the victim safely without taking ransom or delivers the victim to the authorities within a month of issuing this decree.
The decree also grants amnesty for foreigners who entered Syria with the purpose of joining a terrorist group or committing a terrorist act if they turn themselves in to the authorities within a month of issuing this decree.
Deserters are also granted full amnesty, both those who are inside Syria and abroad and who are not fugitives from justice. Fugitives wanted for other crimes can also benefit from the amnesty if they turn themselves in within three months.
The amnesty does not affect convictions from personal lawsuits which remain under the jurisdiction of courts and the individuals or sides who files the lawsuits.
It has been more than one year and a half since we last had contact with Austin. The passage of time sharpens our pain and strengthens our resolve. We continue to seek support to find and bring Austin safely home, and we continuously give thanks for everyone who has and is helping us make his return a reality. Our prayers go out to everyone whose lives have been impacted by events in Syria and the region, we know there is pain far beyond our own. Still we hold out hope - not only for Austin, but for all. May peace prevail.
سنةٌ ونصف السنة مضت حتى الآن على آخر اتصال لنا مع أوستن. مرور الزمن يزيد من آلامنا ويقوّي عزيمتنا. سنبقى نناشد العالم لمساعدتنا في البحث عنه وتأمين عودته. نحن نصلي دائماً من أجل كل الناس الذين تأثروا بشكل أو بآخر بالأحداث التي تجري في سورية وفي المنطقة، ونعلم تماماً أن هناك أناساً تزيد آلامهم عن آلامنا. مع كل ذلك، فنحن لن نفقد الأمل، ليس فقط بعودة أوستن، إنما بأن يعمّ السلام جميع الناس.
مارك وديبرا تايس والعائلة
It has been 365 days since we last heard from our precious son, beloved brother, adored uncle, and faithful friend, Austin.
None of us want to place special significance on this date because we know that every one of those days has been unimaginably challenging for Austin. The most tolerable aspect of this day is that it means we are one day closer to the return of Austin, of all other captives, and relief of the suffering of the Syrian people.
It also presents another opportunity to express our heartfelt appreciation to the many people and organizations who steadfastly work and pray for Austin's safe return. We can never repay our deep debt of gratitude to every one of you.
We thank our Texas Senator John Cornyn and his office for initiating, drafting, and managing the signing and delivery of the letter to Secretary of State Kerry, imploring him to continue to use all efforts to secure Austin's release and safe return.
We also deeply thank Texas Senator Ted Cruz, New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayote, and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy for contributing both their signatures and their support to Austin and our family.
290 Days of Captivity
Family of missing Journalist has hopes for upcoming Syria Conference
It has been more than 9 months since our son, freelance journalist Austin Tice, was taken captive by unknown persons near Damascus, Syria, where he was reporting on the Syrian conflict for McClatchy News, the Washington Post, CBS and others. With the exception of a distressing 47 second video released in September, we have had no contact from Austin or his captors. We do not know with certainty who is holding him captive.
While we have been desperately missing Austin, Austin has also
missed many important personal and family events. Most notably, he missed the announcement of
his receipt of the prestigious George Polk Award for War Reporting as well as
the McClatchy President’s Award for Journalism Excellence. Just last weekend, he missed his own long-anticipated
graduation from Georgetown University Law Center. In addition to his painful absence during
traditional holiday celebrations, Austin has missed many family milestones,
including several birthdays – most notably his grandmothers’ 83rd
and 88th and his youngest sister’s 21st. In April, we celebrated our 33rd
wedding anniversary. Another of Austin’s
sisters graduated from university in December and his baby brother graduated
from university in May. Austin’s
precious niece performed in her first ballet recital. These are all occasions which will delight
Austin’s heart and his inability to share in our joy pained the entire family.
The event we presently long for most is Austin’s safe return. We sincerely appreciate all the kind thoughts and prayers being offered for Austin. We earnestly ask anyone with information regarding our son’s current situation to contact us through our website: www.austinticefamily.com. Above all we request that the Syrian government search vigorously for Austin in order to secure his safe return. Soon, we plan to return to Beirut to reach more deeply into the region on behalf of our son. As both sides of the Syrian conflict prepare to come together for peace talks next month, we ask that they keep Austin in their minds and help us answer the heartbreaking question frequently asked by Austin’s 3-year-old niece, “When is my Austin coming home?”May 3, 2013
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Today, our family joins people around the world in reaffirming the principles of press freedom.
As UN Secretary General BAN Ki-moon has stated, "Freedom
of expression...is essential for empowering individuals and building
free and democratic societies. A fundamental right on its own, freedom
of expression also provides the conditions for protecting and promoting
all other human rights. But its exercise does not happen automatically,
it requires a safe environment for dialogue, where all can speak freely
and openly, without fear of
reprisal...On this World Press Freedom Day, we call on Governments, societies and
individuals to do their utmost to protect the safety of all journalists,
offline and online. Everyone has a voice; all must be able to speak freely and in safety."
As you know, our son, Austin Tice, like far too many journalists, is being held captive for bringing the truth of troubled places to the attention of the world. Announcement of Austin's receipt of the coveted George Polk Award for War Reporting makes his absence all the more poignant. We are, of course, proud of this recognition of his remarkable writing talent. Since he is currently unavailable to acknowledge this honor, we will reluctantly presume to speak on his behalf.
We thank Long Island University for conferring the Award for War Reporting on the staff of McClatchy News, with special citations for David Enders and Austin. The people of Syria deserve to have their story told widely and well. All the contributors to the McClatchy series “Inside Syria” – Hannah Allam, Jonathan S. Landay, Roy Gutman in addition to David and Austin – accomplish this with consummate skill and professionalism.
We know Austin feels fortunate to be part of this team. Austin has been honing his writing skills since he first held a pencil, faithfully journaling and always eager to participate in journalism opportunities at school. His work for McClatchy may be his professional debut, but it is the culmination of a dream he has nurtured his entire life.
We also know Austin would express his deepest gratitude to McClatchy’s Chief of Correspondents, Mark Siebel, for his personal mentoring and to James Asher, Washington Bureau Chief, for taking a leap of faith in hiring an unknown freelancer. Austin shared with us how these men personify, and how much he respects, the culture of integrity which defines McClatchy News. We are now also deeply, personally aware of how deep that integrity runs. They and the entire McClatchy organization have our most profound gratitude for their ongoing efforts to secure Austin’s safe release from captivity in Syria.
We are immensely proud of this moment for Austin. We profoundly wish he were here to share it with us.
Six months ago, on August 14, we unknowingly began marking time with silence: 185 silent days, 27 silent Tuesdays, 6 silent months. On that day, our cherished son and beloved brother, journalist Austin Tice, was taken captive in Syria. Despite our best efforts, and the efforts of our government, many friends and journalists, as well as kind strangers, we still do not know with certainty who is holding Austin or how to secure his release. We appeal to whoever is holding Austin to treat our son well, keep him safe, and return him to us. We urge anyone with information to contact us through our website: www.austinticefamily.com.
Many things have happened in our big family while Austin has been confined. We miss him terribly during all the celebrations and feasts of the holidays; our hearts are heavy with longing for his great storytelling and contagious laugh. Even so, our family is ever mindful of and sincerely thankful for the many people who sustain us with kind thoughts and steadfast prayer.
This was to be Austin's last semester at Georgetown Law School. Rather than pursue the traditional summer internship, Austin felt compelled to travel to Syria as a journalist. Equipped with cameras, an exquisite writing talent, and an instinct for finding his way to the center of things, in May our son crossed over the Turkish border into Syria. He courageously embraced the risks of freelancing in the pursuit of truth. He wanted to both experience and understand the fundamental motivations of the Syrian people. He was committed to preserving an accurate history for the children of Syria, whose future continues to be altered day by day. His work, published by McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS, CNN, the BBC and others, fulfills that commitment. His work demonstrated keen insight and provided thoughtful analysis as he worked to objectively give an account of all sides of this most complicated story.
We continue to pray and work for Austin's safe return. Though we are dismayed by the passage of time, we are not deterred. We are amazed, humbled and deeply grateful for the support of many, many individuals and organizations, especially the global family of journalists. We trust that all of these efforts, by the will of God, will end the silence and bring our son safely home.
This is a season of family togetherness, of hope and joy. We wish everyone who sees this all those things. We ask you to light a candle, say a prayer, spare a thought for all those missing and suffering; that the missing would be found, the suffering alleviated, and joy return.
Marc and Debra Tice and Family
Our family is longing for the safe return of our cherished son and beloved brother Austin, who was taken captive while working as a journalist in Syria. So many things have happened in the more than 18 weeks he has been missing. We missed him terribly at the family gathering for the feast of Thanksgiving. We are a close-knit family, sharing so many memories and traditions. Now, as we prepare for the joyful celebration of Christmas, we desperately want our family to be whole. Our hearts are heavy to think his chair may once again be empty at our family table; we dread missing his great storytelling and contagious laugh.
Austin is the oldest of our seven children. The Tice kids are very close, and Austin’s absence is agonizing. Like children everywhere, they grew up loving, fussing, challenging and, most importantly, supporting one another. Austin is so proud to be the thoughtful mentor and protector of his sisters and brothers, encouraging them to dream big and work hard to make those dreams come true. He has set an example by never settling for less than excellence in himself.
He is an Eagle Scout – Boy Scouting’s highest rank – a diligent student and a frequent volunteer, willingly sharing his time and talent to help others. As a Marine, he earned the loyalty and respect of his men by wholly embracing the call to lead by example. Now, as a journalist, he is determined to get the story and tell it with a deep commitment to honesty and thoughtful analysis.
As parents, we encourage our children to learn about and understand other cultures; to discover and explore the things we have in common as people sharing a world that grows ever more connected. Austin has traveled widely, always eager to meet and engage the local people. He has a special affinity for the people of the Middle East; he is especially attracted to your tradition of hospitality. He deeply connects with your intense loyalty to family, faith and ideals.
A passionate and serious man, Austin has no patience for shallow and materialistic pursuits. He went to Syria to see the truth and to share the stories of its people. He wanted to experience and understand the fundamental and essential nature of their challenges.
Austin’s big heart holds a special place for children. In his professional photographs, he tried to capture how the events in Syria affected its children.
Austin has always had an interest in journalism. From the time he began reading, he wanted to know what was going on “all around.” He has faithfully kept a journal. He has written for the newspaper at every school he attended, from middle school right up through college. He was thrilled to be offered a contract to report from Syria over his summer break from Georgetown law school.
Austin is just one of the many journalists taking great risks to further knowledge and understanding of other people, places and events. There is a global consensus through treaty and convention that the work of journalists is essential and should be protected and respected.
We steadfastly work and pray for Austin’s safe return. We are sustained by our faith and by the kind thoughts and prayers that are being offered for Austin and our family. We are humbled, amazed and deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support and assistance we have received from every corner of the globe; affirmation of all the lives that have been touched by our extraordinary son.
We urge you, whoever you are: Let Austin come home for Christmas. Let us hug him, laugh and cry with him, love him in person. Let us be a whole family again.
Kidnapping of NBC Crew
We are relieved to hear of the return of Richard Engel and his colleagues. Certainly it deepens our longing to have Austin safely returned to our family.
Journalists serve one of the most basic and important of all freedoms, the freedom of expression and of information. Our hearts continue to go out to all those who remain in captivity and to their families.
November 05, 2012
في يوم 13 أغسطس 2012، فقدنا الاتصال مع ابننا الأكبر، أوستن تايس، وهو صحفي دولي، في سوريا عندما كان متجهًا نحو لبنان. والآن، فإننا لعدم سماع صوته نعاني من القلق الذي ينتاب آلاف العائلات السورية واللبنانية الذين فقدوا أثر أحبائهم.
ولزيادة جهودنا الرامية لإعادة أوستن للديار آمنًا، فإننا نعتزم السفر إلى بيروت قريبًا. وحيث إننا نسعى للم الشمل مع ابننا، فإننا ندرك جيدًا أن هناك العديد من العائلات في هذه المنطقة الذين يعيشون حالة من عدم اليقين والاشتياق إلى رؤية أبنائهم.
ونحن ندعو كل يوم ليعم السلام والاستقرار عبر بلاد الشام آملين في عودة هذه العائلات إلى حياتهم العائلية الطبيعية. إن ما دفع أبننا للقدوم إلى هذه المنطقة كصحفي هو حبه لشعوب هذه المنطقة وخاصة الأطفال. ونعرف أيضًا أن أمله الكبير هو أن يعيش هؤلاء الأطفال وهذه العائلات في سلام.
ففي نوفمبر من كل عام، تجتمع عائلتنا للاحتفال بعيد الشكر، حيث نحتفل ونشكر ربنا على كل النعم التي وهبنا إياها. والآن هناك فجوة مؤلمة في عائلتنا، فابننا الحبيب متغيب عن المائدة التي تجمعنا.
إن هؤلاء الذين يحتجزون أوستن يتحملون المسئولية عن حمايته وتلبية احتياجاته وإعادته إلينا سريعًا حتى يتم لم شمل العائلة عندما نحتفل بعيد الشكر. هناك من يعرف مكان أوستن، هناك من لديه قدرة الوصول إليه وإعادته إلى عائلتنا. نحن نطلب من هذا الشخص، هؤلاء الأشخاص، أن يظهروا الرحمة. نرجوكم أن تسمحوا لأوستن بالاتصال بنا، أطلقوا سراحه حتى يعود للديار