Thursday, February 11, 2016

Torture and Death in Assad Regime Prisons

The United Nations has released a report revealing some of the ghastly tortures committed by the Assad regime. The Assad regime's treatment of prisoners might constitute extermination.

Reading the report it helps to explain why the Assad regime has been so determined to prosecute this catastrophe asymmetric, civil war that was provoked by the Assad regime's violent and bloody crackdown on an initially peaceful protest movement.

The report was based on 621 interviews including 200 who were "present at the deaths of inmates."
This paper examines the killing of detainees occurring between 10 March 2011 and 30 November 2015. Its findings are based on 621 interviews, as well as considerable documentary material, detailing the rampant use of torture and inhuman conditions of detention. Over 200 interviews are drawn from former detainees present at the deaths of cellmates. Other interviewees include family members who were informed by Government officials that the detainee had died. In the case of deaths occurring in facilities run by the Government, those who worked inside detention centres or prisons have provided corroborating accounts of events and command structures inside. (Paragraph 2, p. 2.)
The reports notes ghastly conditions within Assad regime prisons as well as the widespread use of torture.

It is mentioned that people have died in prison but the paperwork has been obscured to possibly hide where the prisoner actually died. At times the body is not returned to the family and the family is only given a death certificate.
Earlier testimonies regarding events in 2011 up to mid - 2012 stated that the bodies of those who died in the custody of the intelligence branches or were killed in demonstrations by Government forces in and around Damascus were kept at military hospital 601 located in Mezzeh neighbourhood. More recently, deceased detainees were reportedly taken to Tishreen and Harasta military hospitals. Reports misrepresenting the circumstances of these deaths were produced in these localities, effectively concealing the responsibility of other state agents for these deaths. Families could sometimes retrieve these death certificates officially issued by the hospitals, but not the bodies. In other governorates, they were sometimes able to recover their relative’s body at medical facilities. (Paragraph 60, pp. 11-12.)
Furthermore it is mentioned that some prisoners who had died under the custody of the Assad regime have possibly been secretly buried in mass graves.
Multiple accounts suggest that the heads of several facilities were made aware and kept records of all the deaths that occurred in the branches, and that bodies routinely transferred to military hospitals in Damascus where the deaths were registered before the victims were buried in mass graves. Evidence further indicates that all deaths were regularly reported on from the heads of the branches to the Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate. (Paragraph 52, p. 10.)
It is mentioned that deaths were consistently reported along the bureaucratic chain of command throughout the entire time of the crisis since March 2011. So many deaths and acts of torture have occurred in the prisons of the Assad regime. Who is responsible? Who is monitoring this situation? Why has it not been stopped?
Guards of each detention facility were often made aware of prisoners in critically ill health, yet mostly failed to provide or request medical assistance. Guards removed the bodies of deceased prisoners from the cells on a regular basis, and deaths were reported to the Head of the branch. This demonstrates that staff and commanders were aware of the numbers of deaths caused by the prison conditions inflicted on the prison population. ...

Information suggests that deaths of detainees were meticulously reported up the chain of command in several detention facilities of intelligence directorates, and that the superiors of the detention facilities and intelligence direct orates were aware of the deaths occurring. Information on those that died was also conveyed to the Military Police, who sometimes informed families. Information also suggests that rather than surrendering the bodies of the dead to their families, detainees were buried anonymously in mass graves.

A centralised system is in place to register deaths of detainees in Government - controlled detention facilities, with deaths being regularly reported in from security directorates to the Military Police corps of the Syrian Army. As the custodian of this information, the Military Police has made partial information on deaths available to some families of the victims. As a result, deaths occurring in prisons have become widely known in Syria, and owing to the circumstances of the on-going conflict and widespread allegations, must have been known among military superiors at the highest levels.

Civilian superiors, similarly, have knowledge of the crimes being committed by their subordinates or, at the very least, were aware of credible allegations of such crimes, both in the military hierarchy and the civilian leadership of relevant institutions, or have consciously disregarded such information.

The killings and deaths described in this report occurred with high frequency, over a long period of time and in multiple locations, with significant logistical support involving vast State resources. They occurred with the knowledge of prison personnel and their superiors, as well as that of high - ranking State officials in central military hospitals and the Military Police corps of the Syrian armed forces.

Given the above, it is apparent that the Government authorities administering prisons and detention centres were aware that deaths on a massive scale were occurring. The accumulated custodial deaths were brought about by inflicting life conditions in a calculated awareness that such conditions would cause mass deaths of detainees in the ordinary course of events, and occurred in the pursuance of a State policy to attack a civilian population. There are reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct described amounts to extermination as a crime against humanity. (Paragraphs 91, 93-97, pp. 16-17.)
What a chilling report. It is so terrible that the noble Syrian people have been forced to endure such horrors at the hands of the Assad regime. The use of widespread violence suggests that the Assad regime is now a failed state that has lost control of the situation and lost the legitimacy in the eyes of a critical mass of the Syrian people.

This is the brutality that provoked the Syrian people to take up arms against the Assad regime. The Assad regime destroyed peace and plunged Syria into catastrophe.

No wonder the Assad regime is, among other things, fighting this asymmetric, civil war to evade accountability and to continue to hide these criminal, brutal acts.

It is just so terrible. The Syrian people deserve to live in peace and safety.

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