Syrian gov’t accused of systematic, widespread torture

Syrian gov’t accused of systematic, widespread torture

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrian gov’t accused of systematic, widespread torture

Syrian security forces arrive at the scene as hundreds of mainly Syrians Kurds (unseen) during a protest in Qamishli on March 12, 2012. AFP Photo

Amnesty International (AI) has accused the Syrian government of systematic and widespread torture in detention centers, in a new report made public at the first minutes of March 14. According to the report, the torture in Syria has reached a new level that reminds the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s.

The “'I wanted to die': Syria's torture survivors speak out” report is based on eye witness or torture victim accounts that were taken in February by Amnesty International researches in Jordan, a press statement said. The report details 31 torture and abuse methods that are used by Syrian security personnel, the Syrian military and the pro-government Shabiba forces. Its release comes just a day before the anniversary of the start of mass anti-government protests.

Ann Harrison, AI’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said what arrested Syrians have been going through is “very similar” to what has happened during the rule of Hafez al-Assad, the late father of current President Bashar al-Assad.

Torture victims told about being severely beaten by sticks, whips, fists and braided cable when they reached detention centers. Such beating was called “haflet al-istikbal,” or “initiation,” according to the report. During the interrogation phase, the victims are subjected to torture methods such as “dulab,” or forcing the individual to crouch inside a car tire and then beating the individual. Another method, “shabeh,” was described as hanging the victim high from his wrists and then beating the person. An 18-year-old victim named “Kerim” told Amnesty experts that his interrogators pierced flesh from his legs with pincers, during his custody in December 2011 in Daraa. Various use of electric shock was also named as a widespread torture method.

Another victim, named “Tarık,” told AI that he was forced to watch another detainee being raped.
The AI report was prepared through interviews with dozens of Syrians who fled to Jordan. It includes 19 accounts from victims. More than half of the incidents took place in Daraa, the organization said.