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13-year-old, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was arrested, tortured and killed while in custody. Amnesty International

Protesters - including children - tortured and killed in Syrian prisons: report

Amnesty International has released the names of protesters who have died in detention in Syria: most victims show evidence of being severely tortured.

AT LEAST 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syrian prisons over the past five months – most of the victims, including children as young as 13, were brutally tortured.

Amnesty International believes that some of the deaths could include crimes against humanity.

“The Syrian authorities are brutally torturing and killing prisoners simply for being involved in political protests,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. O’Gorman described the response of the UN Security Council  to the situation so far as “utterly inadequate” but stressed that there was still time for decisive action.

The report details how the victims, all male, were arrested during the demonstrations sweeping across Syria over the last number of months. Ten children were among those accounted for in the Amnesty International report: some were as young as 13 years old.

In at least 52 of the cases evidence of torture or other ill-treatment causing or contributing to the deaths was uncovered; injuries shown on many of the victims’ corpses show evidence of horrendous abuse, including burns, blunt force injuries, whipping marks and slashes.

Relatives, activists and other individuals have demanded that independent forensic pathologists examine the cases.

One of the victims, 13-year-old, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, disappeared on 29 April during protests against the siege of Dera’a. The boy was later found dead with apparent blunt force injuries and a severed penis.

The body of another victim, Tariq Ziad Abd al-Qadr, from Homs, was returned to his family on 16 June. His family were horrified to learn the extent of his injuries, which included ripped-out hair, marks to the neck and penis possibly caused by electric shocks, an apparent cigarette burn, whipping marks, stab wounds and burns.

The body of Dr Sakher Hallak, who ran an eating disorders clinic in Aleppo, was discovered by the side of a road a few days after his arrest on 25 May. Sources said his injuries included broken ribs, arms and fingers, gouged eyes and mutilated genitals.

Amnesty International has listed the names of more than 1,800 people who have died since protests began in Syria last March. Thousands of others have been arrested – many of whom are being held incommunicado at unknown locations.

The organisation has called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, to impose an arms embargo on Syria and to implement an asset freeze against President Bashar al-Assad and his senior associates.

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