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The Beginning Of My Ascendance - My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria
April 22nd, 2007
10:59 am

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My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria

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From:col_puck
Date:May 1st, 2007 02:57 am (UTC)
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She doesn't sound like the typical travler and knows the facts of life in third world countries, so I wouldn't worry about kidnapings or such.

That being said it is time to hack into the e-mail and follow her treck. Most hotels/hostles require you to present a passport, which sends the information to the local police department, this might be a way of finding where she stayed last. How was she traveling, bus, train, air, reservations made in advance?

People engage in pattern behavior, so what were spending habits like. What was her last bank activity, how long could be expected to last if it was a cash withdrawl? Was it a hotel charge, food charge, transport charge?

What about contact with the Canadian Foreign Affairs, you might want to check with the local counslate nearest her last known location.

As she is a third world kind of person, investigating international NGO's might be an option, Red Cross, Doctors with out borders, USAID, US Peace corp, any other similar groups that have operations in that area.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 03:05 am (UTC)
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What the hell is she doing there backpacking. This is just asking for trouble.

I hope she is o.k. But really, this is just plain stupid.
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From:vienneau
Date:May 1st, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
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Syria is a surprisingly safe country to travel in. Despite the differences between the government and the USA (for example), the Syrian people are very friendly and welcoming to travellers. They can tell the difference between a government and its people and act accordingly.

It's much more likely that she's been involved in some sort of traffic accident than anything politically motivated. We think it's extremely unlikely that she's been kidnapped or otherwise imperiled by terrorists or anything exotic. There's been bombings in Egypt over the past few years, but I still went back in February and was never worried for my safety at any point.

And this is her fourth extended 3rd-world trip - she's very experienced. Iraq is an incredibly dangerous place to visit. Syria? Not so much.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
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"Syria is a surprisingly safe country to travel in. Despite the differences between the government and the USA (for example), the Syrian people are very friendly and welcoming to travellers."

Unless you're a Lebanese who objects to their subjugation of your country and their wholesale elimination of your native Christian population...
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 06:03 am (UTC)
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Comments like this, though perhaps well intentioned (though personally I fail to grasp how...), are not what anyone needs to hear in a situation like this. Perhaps you should place yourself in the Vienneau family's position and think before making comments such as this.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 1st, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
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I think the comment is appropos. Vienneau shows a fundamental naivete regarding the Middle East, and especially Syria, that will inhibit his actions to find his sister. Comments like "it's safe, especially for a Canadian" are case-in-point.

Syria is a bad place to be for anyone to be. Putting one's faith in page out of a granola-crunching backpacking book cannot, and will not, change that fact.
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From:somuchforhope
Date:May 1st, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
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*shrug*

I've spent nearly two years in Syria and I'm a white American. I spend a good portion of my time here hiking alone in the countryside, hitchhiking and taking public transportion, and sleeping at stranger's homes. It is one of the safest countries in the world, especially for a foreigner. The only way it would be 'dangerous' is if one was involved in some politically subversive activities, which I highly doubt his sister was.

From what I've read, he has a very good idea of the situation in Syria. It is your 'facts' that are not based in reality.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 29th, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
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what you have said about syrians and lebanese is just a whole load of crap, and for your information the syrian army first went to lebanon to protect the christan population and to stop the civil war, i know that they weren't that good after words but lets not forget that the syrian army does not represent the syrian people, it only represents the regime in syria, and syrian people are very friendly and kind.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:May 9th, 2007 08:42 am (UTC)
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i dont know if you know this but i travelled to syria alone last november. for every bus i took, i had to present my passport so they could record it down. they did this for locals too(with their ID i presume). so there might be a track record of her passport number.

hama is near homs which is usually the stopping point if you want to travel to palmyra. (i did aleppo to palmyra and had to change the bus at homs)

good luck, if anything, internet access was not that easy to find.

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From:vienneau
Date:May 1st, 2007 03:27 am (UTC)
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Thanks for taking the time to write out some ideas.

We're working on getting into her email to see if she contacted anyone else, or if she sent anything we didn't receive. There has been no bank account activity since the 29th when we last heard from her. Same with credit card and traveller's cheques. She's low-budget, so it's mostly cash transactions. She normally gets more money each week.

We have her passport information and visa information and we've just generated a list of all the hostels in the Lonely Planet that she might have visited. Having just travelled with her for a month, I have a good idea of her travelling style. She has almost nothing reserved in advance because with 7 months to travel, she can plan from week to week.

Canadian Foreign Affairs is working on it and are presumably contacting local consulates. Her last known location was Damascus.

Your NGO idea is a good one. We've just begun chatting with a contact yesterday and are looking to follow that route.
From:beckeresuga
Date:June 25th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
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Just feel with you
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