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Amnesty International Exposes Syria’s ‘Human Slaughterhouse’

A shocking report by the human rights charity has revealed mass extrajudicial executions in Syria’s Saydnaya Military Prison.

Amnesty has documented the systematic hangings of 13,000 civilians since 2011.

It is believed that a further 17,723 detainees have died as a result of repeated torture and deprivation of food, water and medical care.

Amnesty concludes that these practices amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In an investigation spanning 2015 to 2016, the charity interviewed reliable sources including 31 detainees, four prison guards, three former judges and 22 family members of people who were or are still being kept at the prison.

The harrowing report emphasises how stories were validated by multiple witnesses and more importantly, the personal risk these individuals took in order to speak out against the regime.

Syrian authorities are known to have used torture and enforced disappearance since the late 80s but this report indicates how practices by the government have recently ‘increased dramatically in magnitude and severity’.

Individuals at greatest risk of torture or death are those who are alleged to oppose the government in some form. From doctors to students, the list of casualties of this regime is vast and diverse.

The report describes trials lasting only two or three minutes followed by what officials describe as ‘the party’. Detainees are gathered from their cells and beaten then hanged in a basement of what’s known as the ‘white building’.

These ‘parties’ take place once or twice a week and on each occasion between 20 and 50 people are executed. Their bodies are buried in mass graves on military land near Damascus.

It is understood that these executions are secret and only known to the guards and officials directly involved, as well as high-level Syrian officials.

Amnesty International has called on the UN Human Rights Council to demand that the UN-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic undertakes an urgent investigation.

The report also calls for immediate action by the UN Security Council members, including Russia and Iran, and warns that ‘any delay will have lethal consequences’.

When asked by Amnesty International whether executions are still ongoing, an ex-prison official stated: ‘Of course there are executions.

‘It will not stop. If people are still going to the prison, there is still torture.

‘If there is still torture, there are confessions.

‘And if there are still confessions, there are executions.’

Syrian child between the rubble in Aleppo (courtesy of Flickr)

 

The sickening revelations included in this report depict a people in desperate need of international support.

‘Only an end to impunity for mass atrocities can foster the conditions for a just and sustainable end to the bloodshed in Syria.’