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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# inhuman conditions
This is the before and after picture of a man who survived Syria's 'human slaughterhouse'
Amnesty says their new report reveals a “hidden, monstrous campaign” at Saydnaya prison.

detainee Amnesty International Former detainee Mounir al-Fakir before his arrest and shortly after his release from Saydnaya Amnesty International

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS published a new report which it says has uncovered a “calculated campaign” of civilian executions by the Syrian government over the last five years.

The report – Human Slaughterhouse: Mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya prison, Syria – claims that, between 2011 and 2015, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged. This would often happen twice a week.

Amnesty estimates that up to 13,000 people, most of them believed to be civilians opposed to the government, have been killed in the prison in the last five years.

They believe that this policy of extermination is authorised at the highest levels of Syrian government, and that inhuman conditions are deliberately inflicted on detainees at the prison.

Amnesty adds that they have “strong reasons” to believe that these executions are still happening today.

A year-long investigation from the group led to the production of this report. It includes first-hand testimony from 84 witnesses that included former prison guards, detainees, judges and lawyers.

It features extensive testimony on the practice of regular hangings.

One military officer at the facility said:

They arrived around 4am and left around 6am. I didn’t see the “execution room”, but I knew it was under me… Then they would bring the coffins – they were wooden – there were 30 or 40 coffins. They would take them and load them. They left with sun rising…
After they left, we could see the slippers [outside the window of the cell]. If there were 30 slippers, then we knew that 15 people had been executed. There were usually between 30 and 80 slippers outside.

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, 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.

“The UN must immediately carry out an independent investigation into the crimes being committed at Saydnaya and demand access for independent monitors to all places of detention.”

Last year, a UN investigation accused Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s government of a policy of “extermination” in its jails.

You can view the report here.

Read: How different is the story of someone fleeing Syria to that of a World War II refugee?

Read: “You must do something for the children of Syria” – 7-year-old Bana writes open letter to Trump

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