Syrians opposed to their government have been hanged at Saydnaya prison in Syria, according to a shocking report by Amnesty International. The report states that between the years 2011 and 2015, groups of up to 50 people were taken from their prison cells and hanged, and this occurred every week, sometimes twice a week.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) February 11, 2017
Amnesty International reports that as many as 13,000 people were hanged in secret, with most people being civilians opposed to the Syrian government. The report also states that inhuman conditions are inflicted on detainees at Saydnaya prison, including torture, and deprivation of water, food, medicine, and medical care. Shockingly, these war crimes and crimes against humanity have been authorized by the highest levels of the Syrian government.
Lynn Maalouf is the Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut, and described the “horrors” of the “hidden, monstrous campaign,” which seek to crush any form of dissent from Syrians, and which have come from the “highest levels of the Syrian government.”
“We demand that the Syrian authorities immediately cease extrajudicial executions and torture and inhuman treatment at Saydnaya Prison and in all other government prisons across Syria.”
Maalouf called on Iran and Russia, Syria’s closest allies, to “press for an end to these murderous detention policies.”
“The upcoming Syria peace talks in Geneva cannot ignore these findings. Ending these atrocities in Syrian government prisons must be put on the agenda. The UN must immediately carry out an independent investigation into the crimes being committed at Saydnaya and demand access for independent monitors to all places of detention.”
It’s believed that these practices are still ongoing today, and that detainees at Saydnaya prison are being forced to obey a set of dehumanizing and sadistic rules.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) February 9, 2017
An intensive investigation was carried out over a one-year period from December, 2015 to December, 2016, with 84 witnesses interviewed: they included judges, lawyers, detainees, and Saydnaya guards and officials, in addition to both national and international experts on detention in Syria.
A previous report estimated that more than 17,000 people have died in Syrian prisons as a direct result of torture and inhumane conditions since the war in Syria began in 2011. This figure is on top of the 13,000 additional deaths resulting from the extrajudicial executions exposed in the current report.
Equally shocking is the fact that none of the detainees hanged at Saydnaya prison ever received a proper trial. Instead, the detainee receives a short, perfunctory procedure at the so-called Military Field Court before they are hanged; all of which has been confirmed by testimonies received from detainees and former government officials, guards, and judges.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) February 7, 2017
According to CNN, the Amnesty International report titled “Human Slaughterhouse” says that prisoners are moved from their cells during the night under the pretext of being moved to another facility. Instead, they’re taken to prison grounds where they are hanged.
Amnesty International says that most people hanged were civilians who opposed the government. During a detainee’s sham trial, a judge asks the detainee’s name and whether he committed the crime. The person will be convicted whether the answer is yes or no. According to Amnesty International, a former judge confirmed that the court has no relation with the rule of law, and is therefore not a court.
CNN received a copy of a report in 2014 that found evidence of systematic torture and killing by the Syrian government. This evidence was based on photographs leaked by a Syrian defector.
President Assad still maintains that most of the accusations leveled against him are politically motivated.
“I’m just a headline – the bad president, the bad guy, who is killing the good guys. You know this narrative. The real reason is toppling the government. This government doesn’t fit the criteria of the United States.”
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) February 7, 2017
With the release of this new report, Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations to carry out an immediate independent investigation into the crimes being committed at Saydnaya prison, and are demanding access for independent monitors at all places of detention. Shocking figures have emerged from Syria, where it is estimated by the United Nations that approximately 400,000 people have been killed since 2011, with another 4.8 million people fleeing for their lives.
NBC News reports that, since the late 1980s, Amnesty International has recorded at least 35 different methods of torture in Syria. These practices have only increased since 2011. Indeed, other rights groups have also found evidence of massive torture leading to death in detention facilities in Syria. The figures are so shocking that they’re comparable to battlefield deaths in Aleppo, where 21,000 people were killed in 2011 in one of the fiercest war zones in Syria.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) February 3, 2017
Maalouf said that, while the most recent data is from 2015, Amnesty International does not believe the practice has stopped and that thousands more have probably been killed. Of course, Syrian government officials won’t comment on allegations of torture or mass killings, but describe reports of massacres as “propaganda.”
[Featured Image by Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock]