At least 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syria during five months of bloody repression of pro-reform protests, a new Amnesty International report reveals today.
The 88 deaths represented a significant escalation in the number of deaths following arrest in Syria. In recent years Amnesty International has typically recorded around five deaths in custody per year in Syria.
“The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”
All the victims are believed to have been detained because they were involved, or suspected of being involved, in the pro-reform protests.
Amnesty International has seen video clips of 45 of the cases – taken by relatives, activists or other individuals – and has asked independent forensic pathologists to review a number of these.
Most of the cases in the report occurred in Homs and Dera’a governorates, which have seen major protests.
Deaths in detention have also been reported in five other governorates, namely Damascus and Rif Damashq, Idlib, Hama and Aleppo.
One video clip seen by Amnesty International shows the body of Tariq Ziad Abd al-Qadr from Homs, which was returned to his family on 16 June. His injuries included pulled-out hair, marks to the neck and genitals possibly caused by electric shocks, an apparent cigarette burn, whipping marks, stab wounds and burns.
Amnesty International is not aware of any independent investigation having been carried out into the causes of death in any of the cases in the report.
Amnesty International 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.
“The response from the Security Council has been utterly inadequate so far, but it is not too late for them to take firm and legally binding action.”
Amnesty International has recently been accused of being blind to Jewish blood after it failed to issue a strong condemnation of the August 18 terror attacks near Eilat that killed eight Israelis.