Published On:February 7, 2017, 11:42 am
According to Amnesty International, nearly 13,000 people, most of them civilians and opponents of Bashar al-Assad have been secretly executed in one of the most notorious Syrian prison in between 2011 and December 2015. This was post the country’s civil war as a part of an extermination policy that was established by the superior levels of Syrian government.
Thousands were held in Saydnaya prison that died due to starvation and torture, stated Amnesty and later their bodies were dumped in two mass graves on the outlying areas of Damascus between midnight and dawn most of the Tuesday mornings for at least five years.
Amnesty further says that these inhuman mass hangings were officially authorized at the superior levels of Syrian government. However, the government had earlier denied mistreating or killing the detainees.
The human resources organization said that it acquired potential evidences from a total of 84 witnesses, which included survivors, guards and other former officials from the prison at the time of the year-long probe.
Lynn Maalouf, deputy research director at Amnesty stated, "Every week, once or twice a week, there are between 20 and 50 prisoners taken out of their cells, told that they will be transferred to another prison, and then instead of that they are taken to a small room, huddled together and hanged to death." He further stated that most of the victims who were hanged were civilians believed to go against the government.
The witness groups said that the victims were subjugated to sham military trials longing a few minutes prior to being executed.
Amnesty’s former military court judge cited that detainees would be asked if they were guilty of crimes supposed to have taken place. He said, "Whether the answer is 'yes' or 'no', he will be convicted... This court has no relation with the rule of law."
The report said, on the day of hangings the detainees were told that they would be transferred to a civilian prison, but instead they would be taken to the basement cell and beaten over the course of two or three hours at a stretch.
Later in the middle of the night the detainees were blindfolded and channeled to another part of the prison. They were taken into a dark room in the basement and were told that they were sentenced to death just a few minutes prior to nooses being placed around their necks.
The former judge said that when the hangings did not work, there were assigned officers on deputy to finish the executions. He said, "They kept them there for 10 to 15 minutes. Some didn't die because they are light. For the young ones, their weight wouldn't kill them. The officers' assistants would pull them down and break their necks. Two officers' assistants were in charge of this."
Later the bodies were brutally loaded onto lorries and taken to Tishreen military hospital in Damacus for registering and burying in the mass graves situated on military land.
A former military officer who was detained at Saydnaya, Hamid said, "If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes… We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then."
Ex-detainee Sameer also mentions the horrific abuse, "The beating was so intense. It was as if you had a nail, and you were trying again and again to beat it into a rock. It was impossible, but they just kept going. I was wishing they would just cut off my legs instead of beating them anymore."
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