Amnesty International has released a report into the “cold-blooded” killings of thousands of Syrian people.
It reveals that the Syrian Regime launched a policy of ‘extermination’ against civilians; killing up to 50 at a time, every week, sometimes twice a week.
The executions took place at Saydnaya military prison near Damascus between 2011 and 2015 but there is damning evidence that they continue in other prisons today.
Most of those executed were civilians who did not support the government; they were subjected to two-minute trials without access to a lawyer and sentenced based on so-called confessions extracted under torture. They were then executed en-masse in the dead of night.
There can be no doubt that these murders were ordered by the Syrian Government, indeed it was authorised by Bashar al-Assad’s deputies.
On their website, Amnesty notes: “Survivors of Saydnaya have also provided spine-chilling and shocking testimonies about life inside the prison. They evoke a world carefully designed to humiliate, degrade, sicken, starve and ultimately kill those trapped inside. These harrowing accounts have led Amnesty to conclude that the suffering and appalling conditions at Saydnaya have been deliberately inflicted on detainees as a policy of "extermination".”
Prisoners at Saydnaya were:
• Systematically tortured
• Deprived of water
• Deprived of medicine or medical care
• Forced to obey sadistic rules, such as being silent even when being tortured
Those who made it out alive would often have lost half their body weight and have severe medical conditions for the rest of their lives.
Amnesty wrote: “These practices, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, are authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian government.”
Amnesty spent a year researching for this report, including interviews with 84 witnesses (former detainees, guards and officials) and was able to determine the schedule that the Syrian leaders kept their massacre to.
1. On Mondays and Wednesdays nights, guards would call out the names of likely 50 people who were to be “transferred”.
2. Those people would be blindfolded and taken to the basement of the prison and viciously beaten over a course of three hours.
3. Then they would be transferred to another building on prison grounds, still with their blindfold on. There a noose would be placed around their neck and they would be told that they were to be executed.
Lynn Maalouf, deputy director of research at Amnesty's regional office in Beirut, said: "The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population."
Amnesty called on the Syrian Government to end these illegal executions and stop the use of torture; a barbaric practice that does not work. They also called on Russia and Iran, Syria’s backers, to end its "calculated campaign" against opposition.