Home > Middle East (Bariga Dhexe), POLITICS > Fresh HRW report accuses Damascus of systematic torture

Fresh HRW report accuses Damascus of systematic torture

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published a report on human rights violations and tortures in Syria after interviewing more than 200 former prisoners.
The Gods hung me by my wrists from the ceiling for 8 days. After a few days of hanging – being denied sleep – it felt like my brain stopped working. I was imagining things. I felt pain that I’ve never felt in my entire life. It was excruciating. I screamed that I needed to go to hospital but the Gods just laughed at me.

That was a man called Elais describing how he was tortured in the Department of General Intelligence in Damascus. He’s one of more than 200 former prisoners and defectors, who’ve been interviewed in the latest Human Rights Watch report which details horrific torture methods in false disappearances and arrests made by the Assad’s government since March, 2011. David Mepham is the UK director of Human Rights Watch.

This is probably the most comprehensive, the most detailed and in some ways the most chilling report that we’ve yet published. Because what it does is to identify 27 separate detention facilities across Syria that are run by branches of the Syrian Intelligence Agency which are involved clearly in the crimes against humanity in systematic torture and abuse. We estimated that tens of thousands of people have probably one time or another gone through these detention centers. And many of those would have been subjected to appalling forms of torture.

The report says that all the accounts describe conditions of severe overcrowding and malnutrition with many saying they’ve been tortured and some claiming to have seen people die from torture. A 13-year-old boy said that he’d been tortured for three day at the Military Security Branch. He said he was electrocuted and beaten. Another 23-year-old said he was subjected to the old torture methods, saying they put rats around his penis and turned on the electricity. Others describe being sexually abused, being hung from the wrists and being deprived of sleep. Although the majority of these victims were men aged between 18 and 25, some of those interviewed included women, children and the elderly. David Mepham says that the situation in Syria is getting worse.

I think there is no question that the last two weeks there’s been a third deterioration in situation. I mean one of concerns that Human Rights Watch have is that the government of Russia and also the government of China appears to be blocking stronger international action against the government of President Assad. What we want the people responsible for this to be held accountable.

Russia and China has previously blocked the UN Security Council Attempts to hold the Syrian government to account. David says that Human Rights Watch wants the Assad’s regime to be trialed at the International Criminal Court, but this need Russian and Chinese backing.

There’re number of things that the Russians could do: one would obviously be to support UN to take Syria to the Criminal Court. That’s not going to happen if Russia and China continue to block it. We also will be hoping the Russians would end all their arms sells to Syrian government.

However Dmitry, political analyst of Ria Novosti News Agency says that if a reliable picture of Syria comes out – then Russia’s position on Syria may change.

Our position about Syria is that all the truth must be revealed, all the crimes must be accounted for. Certainly it can’t be that only one side is murdering people and the other side is peaceful protesters. If we have a reliable picture and everyone gets its share – then that will influence Russia. Human Rights Watch is known as pro-Western, but in case of Syria I expect them at least to start the real search of truth about who is murdering whom in this miserable country.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said they welcomed the report. And said it should act as a warning, that there was no hiding place for those who are responsible for such crimes. He said that Britain would work with other EU representatives to impose sanctions on the Assad’s government to bring an end to the violence.

Jul 4, 2012