Detention in Syriaالعربية
Tens of thousands of people have been tortured and thousands have died in custody in Syria’s prisons since March 2011, the start of the crisis that has forced so many to flee.
Anyone suspected of opposing the government is at risk. Labourers, business people, students, bloggers, university professors, lawyers, doctors and journalists. People helping their neighbours. Activists standing up for minority groups. Men, women and even children.
Prisoners speak of an endless cycle of beatings. On the journey after arrest. In transit between detention centres. As part of a ‘welcome party’ of abuse on arrival at a prison, used to frighten new arrivals into submission. And then every day for every conceivable minor ‘breaking’ of rules, including talking or not cleaning their cells.
Many of the people we spoke to said they had been beaten with plastic hose pipes, silicone bars and wooden sticks. Some had been scalded with hot water and burnt with cigarettes. Others were forced to stand in water and given electric shocks.
People suffer acute mental health problems due to overcrowding and lack of sunlight. In some cases, people told us there could be more than 50 people in a cell as small as 3m by 3m. They sleep in shifts, and have a tiny space of floor where they can sit and eat.
People die from starvation. From a lack of air in their cells. And from completely treatable diseases. Cuts, ingrown fingernails and rashes become infected, and people die from a desperate lack of medical care.
Outside the law
In most cases, the Syrian government denies the security forces have even arrested these people. Or they refuse to give any information about their whereabouts. It means that many detainees are “disappeared” – outside the protection of the law – making them especially vulnerable to abuse.
This is just part of the reality of life in Syria. And it’s part of the reason why so many people are fleeing for neighbouring countries and beyond. More than 11 million Syrians have fled their country since the start of the crisis.
Attack on Syrians
As the world attempts to resolve the ongoing conflict, the treatment of people in detention must be a priority if Syrians are to have any trust in a lasting peace. Russia has considerable influence over negotiations, in part because of its military involvement in the region. It must ensure that independent monitors are allowed in to fully investigate conditions in these brutal detention centres.
End the horror in Syrian prisons
The Syrian government must let in independent monitors to investigate Syria’s brutal detention centres, now.
Since 2011, thousands of people have died in custody in Syria’s torture prisons. Tens of thousands more have experienced shocking torture. People have been brutally beaten, raped, given electric shocks and more, often to extract forced “confessions”. Anyone suspected of opposing the Syrian government is at risk. Conditions in these brutal detention centres are sub-human. People are dying from starvation. They’re not getting even the most basic health care, and are dying from infected cuts and ingrown fingernails. They suffer acute mental health problems because of the overcrowding and lack of sunlight.
Send the message below and tell Russia and the U.S. to use their global influence to ensure that independent monitors are allowed in to investigate conditions in Syria’s torture prisons.
Dear Co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group,
I am writing about the ongoing reports by human rights monitoring groups, in particular Amnesty International, that document the widespread use of torture and other ill-treatment and lethal conditions in Syrian detention facilities.
Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011 the Syrian authorities have subjected tens of thousands of people in Syria to arbitrary detention or enforced disappearance. Many of them have been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment in Syria’s detention centres and thousands are reported to have died in custody as a result.
These practices clearly violate international law as well as the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 2139 and in many cases constitute war crimes. Insofar as they are carried out as part of a widespread, as well as systematic attack directed against the civilian population, they also amount to crimes against humanity.
I therefore call on you to use your influence in the International Syria Support Group to urgently ensure that independent detention monitors are allowed to investigate conditions in all detention facilities run by the Syrian government or its security forces. They must also be allowed to speak freely to all people who have been deprived of their liberty.
I urge you also to use your influence to ensure that the Syrian authorities provide detailed information on all those who are held in their custody, and inform the families of those detained about their legal status and whereabouts.
"It breaks the human": Torture, disease and death in Syria's prisons
Since 2011, thousands of people have died in custody in Syria’s prisons. Tens of thousands more have experienced shocking torture. Amnesty International spoke to survivors to document the brutal conditions.Download report