Severe torture widespread in Syria: HRW

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Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Syrian government has used widespread, systematic torture to suppress protesters and armed rebels over the past 16 months, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

In a widespread report on the use of torture in Syrian jails, the rights group identified 27 facilities across the country used by Syrian security forces to torture people.

"The intelligence agencies are running an archipelago of torture centers scattered across the country," Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch said.

For the first time since the Syrian crisis began, the rights group revealed the various divisions that were largely responsible for the torture of detainees, including the names of officers in charge of the detention centers.

The Department of Military Intelligence, the Political Security Directorate, the General Intelligence Directorate and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate were all mentioned as the main divisions conducting torture practices on detainees.

"By publishing their locations, describing the torture methods, and identifying those in charge we are putting those responsible on notice that they will have to answer for these horrific crimes," Solvang said.

Syria is said to be holding tens of thousands of people in its jails, with arbitrary detention and torture of citizens accelerating as the crisis continues.

The 81-page report, “Torture Archipelago: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and Enforced Disappearances in Syria’s Underground Prisons since March 2011” is based on more than 200 interviews stretching over the entire 16 months of the uprising.

Almost all of whom described experiencing or witnessing torture, including "prolonged beatings, often with objects such as batons and wires."

Other methods included "holding the detainees in painful stress positions for prolonged periods of time, often with the use of specially devised equipment, the use of electricity, burning with car battery acid, sexual assault and humiliation, the pulling of fingernails, and mock execution."

Human Rights Watch said the detainees described being held in overcrowded facilities with inadequate food and the routine denial of medical assistance, with several saying they had witnessed people dying from torture.

The group said that in addition to the 27 facilities, detainees were being held in stadiums, military bases, schools and hospitals.

A 31-year-old detainee held in Idlib province in the northwest was quoted as saying that interrogators had squeezed his fingers with pliers and put staples in his fingers, chest and ears.

"I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke. The nails in the ears were the most painful. They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice," he said.

"I thought I would never see my family again. They tortured me like this three times over three days."

The report quoted a former intelligence officer as describing a wide range of torture methods, including hanging prisoners by their hands from the ceiling and putting prisoners in coffins and threatening to kill them.

"I've also seen them using martial art moves, like breaking ribs with a knee kick. They put pins under your feet and hit you so that you step on them."

A defected soldier from Zabadani told Human Rights Watch that he saw the corpses of 12 men brought into his base alive in January, only to be killed through brute force.

"All of them were wearing civilian clothing and two of them were wearing pajamas. None of them had beards. I saw their faces as I walked by them and their faces were disfigured from blunt force trauma."

"Near the bodies, I saw shovels that had blood and what looked like brain particles. A soldier in the 4th Division who participated in their killing told me that they were ordered to kill them because they were all foreign terrorists."

"But when I went into the Colonel’s office, I saw the dead men’s identification cards in plain view on his desk. All the men were Syrians."

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

Comments

yes, CIA and George Sorors' funded institute sure is credible.

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