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

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My Sister, Nicole Vienneau, Has Gone Missing in Syria


(*The blog is no longer being updated regularly due to the civil war in Syria. Should the situation change or any breakthroughs be achieved, I will post it here*)



Nicole

Summary      

My sister, Jacqueline "Nicole" Vienneau, a Canadian tourist, disappeared in Syria on Saturday, March 31st, 2007 at the age of 32. She was in her fifth month of a six-month solo adventure through West Africa and the Middle East. She was last seen by the desk clerk at 8:30 in the morning as she left the Cairo Hotel in Hama, two hours north of Damascus.

Nicole

She definitely intended to return to the hotel as her backpack was left in her room along with the memory cards from her camera, full of photos. She also left her journals that include an entry made the night before she disappeared. Canadian police retrieved her Hotmail account email records indicating she attempted to login around 8:30 Friday night but was unable to (Syrian Internet connections are not reliable). Her last completed emails were sent Thursday night.

Nicole's guidebook was also left in her room. In the back of her Lonely Planet "Middle East" guidebook she wrote directions to a number of places in Syria that we believe she copied from the Cairo Hotel's copy of the Lonely Planet "Syria" guidebook. Nicole spoke with some guests about these locations earlier in the week and the hotel clerk indicated that on the morning she disappeared, she asked for directions to the "Beehive Houses", a local sightseeing destination, as well as Qasr Ibn Wardan (a nearby castle).

Nicole

No one at these locations recalls seeing Nicole (and they are not heavily visited) and the Qasr Ibn Wardan logbook has a record of only one visitor, Amin Ben Yahia, a person of interest to us (b. 1984, Algerian/Swiss nationality, father is Abbas, mother is Monica) in hopes that he remembers something unusual about that day.  UPDATE:  On January 19th, 2019, Amine contacted me.  He does not remember anything unusual.

Nicole preferred taking local transit, but none of the minibus drivers or locals remembers seeing her. As a foreigner, Nicole stood out in all of Syria, but particularly in Hama where the majority of women in Hama dress in robes and cover their hair. The streets from the hotel to the minibus pick-up are main streets with lots of people, even at 8:30 in the morning.

Nicole

In May 2007, I flew to Syria with Nicole's fiancé Gary to re-trace her steps and meet with police and local officials. Gary spent an additional two months criss-crossing Syria searching for clues. My mother joined Gary in Syria in July 2007 and met with the Grand Mufti as well as the Minister of the Interior. She also made a personal plea on Syrian television and we put ads in the newspapers and local flyers. Gary and my mother returned to Syria in April 2008 to raise awareness and follow up on leads with officials and the police.

My mother returned to Syria with Gary for a third visit in March 2009 and we continue to work with Syrian government and police officials on the investigation.

There is up to 2,250,000 Syrian pounds ($45,000) in reward money for information leading us to Nicole.

We are currently looking for other guests at the Cairo Hotel in case they spoke with Nicole. A list is at the bottom of this page.

Nicole

For pictures of Nicole and what she was wearing when she disappeared, as well as relevant personal information and summaries of the search so far, please visit:

http://www.findnicolevienneau.com/

From the "official" website, you can also submit anonymous tips, view the picture gallery and download posters and Nicole's notes. Arabic versions of most pages are also available.


You can always email me directly and anonymously at mattv99@hotmail.com

All comments and emails, public and private, are read immediately, but unfortunately I cannot respond to everyone. Feel free to respond in any language that you're comfortable with, though all of my responses will likely be in English.

Nicole

March 31st, 2012 (Afternoon):

Today marks five years since Nicole disappeared from the Cairo Hotel or in the vicinity in Hama. Despite five years of searching, we really have no new clues as to what has happened to her, though we strongly suspect one of the hotel staff was involved.

Syria today is very different from Syria of five years ago. There are certainly no tourists in Hama anymore, and there probably won't be any going there in the immediate future either.

Hollywood tells us that stories always have an ending, but unfortunately that's just not true. In those first few weeks we were so confident we'd figure out what happened. And then as each lead dried up the worry in the back of our minds increased, "what if we never find her?". That has turned out to be the case and we may end up being one of those families still searching 20 or 30 years later. You can never really give up.

An old friend of Nicole's has been putting huge amounts of effort into finding her. He's been posting on Twitter and updating a blog with details. You can read some updates here, here, and here.

Other people continue to offer suggestions and take action. It is very difficult to keep up hope after so much time has passed. All we need is one person who knows or suspects what happens to come to us, but they'll probably be in Syria and unlikely to have access to us anymore. Hopefully one day.

March 6th, 2012 (Afternoon):

Canada has withdrawn all diplomats and government staff from Syria. All Canadians have been urged to leave Syria. As per the official Government of Canada Travel Report:

"Civil unrest and demonstrations have been occurring in many Syrian cities since March 2011. There has been extensive use of force by the security forces and military in suppressing demonstrations across the country. Many casualties and fatalities have been reported and protests and violent repression are likely to continue. Security operations have involved the complete lock-down of entire towns for periods varying from a few days to a few weeks. This may take place with little warning."

Needless to say, our hopes of getting any information about what happened to Nicole have diminished greatly in the short term.

February 11th, 2012 (Morning):

Syria continues to be in the news as world opinion is slowly being swayed by the stories of what is happening. Once again, no progress on our search as we approach nearly five years since Nicole went missing. To think that at first I thought this could be resolved in five days or at worse, five weeks!

January 7th, 2012 (Afternoon):

Another month of chaos in Syria. In early 2011, the violence in Syria wasn't making the international news very frequently, but that has certainly changed. It is not surprising that we have heard nothing from Syrian officials, Canadian embassy officials, or our own contacts within Syria. This makes it difficult to move forward in the search.


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Current Mood: worriedworried
Current Music: Gerard McMann - "Cry Little Sister"
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 14th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)

Article on Kidnappings/sex trade

(Link)
Hi,

Here is an article on the sex trade and kidnappings brought about because of the Iraq war. I got it from www.islam.org

http://www.islamicity.com/m/news_frame.asp?Frame=1&referenceID=33302

Also, to find the people that you want to talk to, there are online services that can show a detailed report of a persons history. They seem to be not very expensive. I think you can find credit information etc.

I have thought it was odd that she wasn't seen past the person at the Cairo Hotel. No one saw her outside it from what I gather. Could one of them have sold her to a sex trade gang?

I hate having to post these questions but we can't avoid them in the effort to find Nicole. Don't give up hope. I am so sorry for what you, your family and nicole have endured.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 14th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)

Matt, contact NGOs that deal with sex trade workers (escaped or still working)

(Link)
Matt,

Have people start contacting NGOs that deal with women who have escaped from the sex trade (or are still working in it). Have her picture passed around and see if anyone recognizes her from where they were working. Other women's orgs. refugee orgs. hospitals that these women might go to...etc.



[User Picture]
From:monkey
Date:August 16th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Everyone at Electric Mail still worries and hopes for the best.

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/08/16/vienneauarrests.html

hopefully their arrest will have new information that may help.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 16th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)

Global TV story on arrests

(Link)
Here's a video of the story of the arrests as it ran on Global TV. The beginning is cut off, but it began, "There may be a break in the story of..." - but doesn't make it clear whether this is a hoax or a real kidnapping lead:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPt_IpSQSag

This is the story on Global's website
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=11413850-2c2c-4612-bfac-379824a4ce83

Roberta
[User Picture]
From:saforrest
Date:August 16th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)

character encodings

(Link)
If you should ever encounter another problem with garbled/unreadable Arabic text in emails, I might be able to help retrieve the original text; I know a thing or two about character encodings.

Best of luck with your search.
[User Picture]
From:nicholelynn
Date:August 17th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Sorry to hear about the false lead. I just heard about it on the news. If nothing else, perhaps this will bring up more publicity/media coverage on her.

You are very brave and determined. Never give up hope.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 19th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)

syrain king

(Link)
Dear Broo
I hope you find her so soon ,and I hope she is fine and well
God help you and your pairantes to gaiud you to find her.
I will pray for her to be well...
Esaam ..
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 22nd, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)

Sorry

(Link)
Sorry for what happened to Nicol
I heared that they found she's body last week in Salamia city ' near Hama
Sorry for that ......

consolations
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 22nd, 2007 12:25 am (UTC)

Sorry

(Link)
Sorry for what happened to Nicol
I heared that they found she's body last week in Salamia city ' near Hama
Sorry for that ......

consolations
[User Picture]
From:vienneau
Date:August 22nd, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)

Re: Sorry

(Link)

Do you have any more information about this that I can follow up on?
Re: Sorry - (Anonymous) - Expand
Re: Sorry - (Anonymous) - Expand
Re: Sorry - (Anonymous) - Expand
Re: Sorry - (Anonymous) - Expand
Re: Sorry - (Anonymous) - Expand
[User Picture]
From:k5memo
Date:August 22nd, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hi Matt,

I'm glad the rumours are false. But it is curious indeed regarding the detail on 'canadian tourist'. There is definitely a need on follow-up... Maybe this could raise even more awareness, especially in Syria.

I'm still checking this blog on a regular basis, in hope of seeing a good news one day.

K

From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 24th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
(Link)
Hello,

I've been following your sister's story off and on since it was first reported in the media, and I wanted to extend my condolences to your family. This may be a minor observation, and based on only one sample (the few pages of the hotel log book you included), but was anyone able to shed some light on why Nicole's entry looks different from the others? I noticed that one or two of the columns are blank when compared to all the other ones on the pages, including the column that may relate to the day she checked in (?). Is that the original document, or did someone copy it out for you? As well, I find it odd that they were sure she left the hotel, although no one outside of the hotel, like at the bus stop, remembers having seen her. I'm not trying to insinuate that anyone at the hotel is involved in her disappearance, but in my opinion, it seems to be the weakest link. I very much hope your family gets closure soon.
[User Picture]
From:vienneau
Date:August 24th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
(Link)

Which photo are you looking at - do you have a link?

I wanted to see what you're talking about so I looked at this image:

http://vintagevocalslabel.com/Citadel%201.JPG

And her first name is in the wrong spot, but I believe that column is for the departure date and other notes and she never checked out.

Is that the image you're looking at? There are a lot of photos and translations floating around, so it's tough to keep track.
logbook - (Anonymous) - Expand
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Re: logbook - (Anonymous) - Expand
re citadel%201.jpg - (Anonymous) - Expand
From:thassan
Date:August 27th, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)

New Article Arabic (Syria-News)

(Link)
Hi Matt,

new article posted on Syria news website about Nicole.

check this out:
http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=60740

it's talking about 2 felons from spain trying to blackmail you
saying that they are hiding your sister.

bbye.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 28th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)

Hello

(Link)
Hello ..
This is Kamel From Syria ..
I want u to know that all syrians here very sad and we want your sister come back safely
so just join us praying and asking god to bless and keep her
with real honestly feelings
Kamel
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 30th, 2007 01:09 am (UTC)

From Lattakia

(Link)
am a Syrian too,i know how u all feel,and there is nothing that i can say to make u feel better,we all wish we can help somehow.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 30th, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC)

SYRIAN ONE

(Link)
I WISH YOU FIND HER
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 30th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)

The Guest List

(Link)
Hi Matt,

I've come across your search for your sister just today. As I was checking the guest list, would it be possible that your country formally request the country of origin of these four people listed before your sister, so that they can contact these people? I'm specifically talking about the Citadel Guestlist with date of arrival of March 25, 2007. The list contains the passport numbers. The page may have been translated already to you.
I hope your sister will be located very soon. Be strong. God bless!
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