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Syrian authorities killed over 17,000 inmates during 2011-15: Amnesty report

Syrian authorities killed over 17,000 inmates during 2011-15: Amnesty report

The Syrian ruling regime has killed an estimated 17,723 people held in custody across the country between 2011 and 2015, revealed a report by Amnesty International. The human rights group fears that the actual number of killings could be much higher.

The report is based on interviews of 65 former inmates held in jails across Syria. The report, titled ‘It breaks the human: torture, diseases and deaths in Syria’s prisons’ reveals the dismal and inhuman conditions of jails across the war-torn country.

“Torture and other ill-treatment has been perpetrated by the Syrian intelligence services and other state forces for decades, fostered by a culture of impunity that is reinforced by Syrian legislation. However, since the current crises in Syria began in 2011, the situation has become catastrophic, with torture committed on a massive scale,” the report reads.

It was also unearthed in the report how Syrian authorities employed torture tactics to acquire confessions from inmates as well as civilians, living in the Syrian government controlled areas.

The statements of affected people show that the authorities forced inmates and civilians to give false accounts in favour of the ruling regime so as to distract the international community and support their claims that they “don’t kill civilians”.

The report reveals that Syrian authorities have attempted to keep information about what goes on inside their detention facilities secret. They have refused access to human rights monitors – both in the media and in international forums such as the United Nations Security Council – and deny that rights violations take place despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In almost all cases, people perceived to be opposing the government are arrested by one of the four branches of the Syrian security forces: Air Force Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Political Security and General Intelligence, also referred to as State Security.

In some cases, arrests are also conducted by militias associated with the Syrian government, including the National Defence Forces and government-affiliated paramilitary groups known as shabiha.

The authorities arrest anyone they consider anti-government, be it a journalist or a volunteer engaged in humanitarian work.

The accounts of former detainees made it clear that the Syrian ruling regime has been using torture as a tool to ensure supremacy and writ of their rule.

One of the victim narrates his ordeal:

“When they caught me, they started hitting me in the back with their weapons. They dragged me. They asked me to walk but I couldn’t, so they threw me into the car boot while hitting me all along. They took me to the Air Force Intelligence branch in Aleppo and left me in the corridor. They kept me there all day and whoever passed me, hit me. I was in a lot of pain. I was screaming.”

The report goes on to reveal that Syrian authorities have been using rape as a tool to suppress not only their detainees but the general population as well, with almost all female prisoners facing the trauma of molestation. A large number of male inmates also face sexual torture and even rape in some cases.

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