International human rights organization Amnesty International published a report entitled “It breaks people dedicated to the mass torture and killings in military prison Syedna controlled by the official Syrian army. Within six months the experts of the Amnesty interviewed 65 former prisoners of the jail and made not only the pattern of abuse of prisoners, but also a detailed plan of the prison building.
The research of Amnesty — the latest of several major reports by human rights groups on human rights violations in the prisons of Syria. Before last winter, the organization Human Rights Watch published a study of the fate of some of the 6.8 thousand died in the dungeons of Syrians in 2011-2013. The HRW report came out in December of 2015, then Amnesty began work on the study of former prisoners Sayedna.
Among the former prisoners, the report said, five were themselves in the past by soldiers of the Syrian army, two belonged to the troops “armed opposition”, the rest 58 had various civil specialty — from journalists and teachers to lawyers and engineers. In most cases interviews were conducted in southern Turkey, where the prisoners had emigrated after the liberation.
According to eyewitnesses, the average time of confinement in a military prison Syedna ranging from several months to several years. Each of the interviewees were somehow accused of treason. The opposition usually arrest one of the four intelligence Syria: intelligence, air force, military intelligence, the political security Directorate or the General Directorate of security. The case is considered either anti-terrorism or court-martial (which, according to Amnesty, is a violation of the standards of a fair trial). In the second case, the convicted are then forwarded to military prison, one of the largest among them is Syedna in the Northern suburbs of Damascus.
The conditions of detention in prison, according to Amnesty, are a gross violation of human rights. “Journey through the dungeons is often fatal: at each stage the prisoner is at risk of death,” — said the Director of the middle East program of Amnesty’s Philip Luther.
For example, newly arrived prisoners traditionally expected of the so-called solemn meeting — the beating of a group of guards. In the course of interrogations were used dozens of different types of torture. Finally, the danger lay in wait for the prisoner and while in the chamber. In one of the cases in the prison block had the whole day off ventilation, and a few dozen people died of suffocation. In another case, security guards beat to death a kung fu master and his cellmates, whom he taught to defend themselves from the soldiers.
Amnesty analysts recognize that “non-state armed groups” — in the first place ISIS and al-Nusra Front” (banned in Russia as a terrorist group) is also engaged in mass torture and killing of captured people. “Despite this, according to our estimates, the vast majority of cases of violence against prisoners in the country carried out by the representatives of the Syrian authorities,” the report said.
Defenders give fresh calculations and analysis of data on the situation of human rights (HRDAG), according to which with the outbreak of civil war in Syria in March 2011 until the end of 2015 in prisons across the country killed more than 17,7 thousand people, or 300 prisoners per month. This is a conservative estimate: in fact, the number of victims can be several times higher.
The betrayal of humanity
As a result, in its report, Amnesty highlights the unwillingness of the Syrian parties “to end the systematic violations by the security services and their impunity,” although Damascus is a party to several agreements, or otherwise relating to the protection of the rights of prisoners.
Amnesty calls upon the Syrian authorities to stop abuses and violations of human rights, fully cooperate with international investigators and to ratify, finally, the Rome Statute (that is, formally becoming a party to the ICC, International criminal court). Countries from International Syria support group are encouraged to prioritize the issue of torture and killings in Syria. Finally, the UN security Council, Amnesty is waiting for further sanctions against those responsible for the torture of officials.
Supporting the government of Syria powers — primarily Russia and Iran — should, according to human rights activists, “at least to exert pressure on Damascus” to fulfil the aforesaid requirements of the Amnesty. “For years, Russia has used its veto in the UN security Council to protect the ally in the Syrian government — said Luther. — The suffering of the masses of people it is time to put an end to such betrayal of humanity”.
According to the head of the Petersburg Centre of studying of the modern Near East Gumer Isaev, hardly Moscow and Tehran will respond to allegations of torture in Syria, as aware that we are talking about military time. “This does not mean that the situation of the war, all forgives and writes off, but the fact of the protracted civil war seriously affects perception”, — he explained .
In many ways, so, I’m sure Isaev, Damascus will not engage even joining the ICC: “Assad could to do thereby a nod in the direction of the West, but the signing of the documents means the observance of these documents. In the civil war and, in fact, multi-year state of emergency is extremely difficult.”
According to Isaev, Amnesty is often criticized various countries as “biased structure”. For example, in December 2015, the Russian defense Ministry criticized the report of the organization devoted to videoconferencing air strikes in Syria, calling the study results “stamps and fakes that have already been repeatedly exposed.” Ten years ago in similar formulations have condemned the investigation of the organization’s press Secretary, George Bush, Scott McClellan.
The performance of the policy occurred in may 2005, six months after began to receive the first data on human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay — Amnesty claims belonged primarily to this situation. Few years under pressure from human rights activists and journalists, the administration of new US President took the decision to disband the prison.
The Syrian government has consistently denied claims of human rights defenders. For example, mentioned in last year’s report, Human Rights Watch photos of dead prisoners, the country’s President Bashar al-Assad in an interview with Foreign Affairs called forgery.