Horror Stories? Aplenty!
"The catalogue of horror stories featured in this report depicts in gruesome detail the dreadful abuse detainees routinely suffer from the moment of their arrest, through their interrogation and detention behind the closed doors."
"This journey is often lethal, with detainees being at risk of death in custody at every stage."
"With tens of thousands of people forcibly disappeared in detention facilities across Syria, the real figure is likely to be even higher."
"For decades, Syrian government forces have used torture as a means to crush their opponents. Today, it is being carried out as part of a systematic and widespread attack directed against anyone suspected of opposing the government,"
Philip Luther, director, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa program
"One man said that when he arrived at Damascus' Saydnaya Military Prison with 60 other people, the beatings were so brutal that by the time he reached his cell, he heard that 20 men had been killed."
Nicolette Boehland, Amnesty researcher
"They treated us like animals. They wanted people to be as inhuman as possible."
"I saw the blood, it was like a river ... We used to always say here that there was no justice in Syria but I never imagined humanity would reach such a low level."
Samer, Syrian lawyer
Ah well, Amnesty International is describing a fundamental pathology afflicting the Middle East when he speaks of "a systematic and widespread attack directed against anyone suspected of opposing the government". It is a time-honoured institutionalized methodology that is generic to the region and beyond, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Turkey to Qatar, Pakistan to Iran and on to the Palestinian Territory and Gaza; quite simply, it really does come with the territory.
Back in March of 2011 when the peaceful protests by Sunni Syrians began and their president, Bashar al-Assad, confidently informed U.S. interviewers that the protesters were 'terrorists' and 'scum' hardly worth noticing, he took note when a teen-age schoolboy wrote an anti-regime message on the wall of his school, was arrested, tortured and died in custody before being returned to his aghast family. And that seemed to set the tone for what was to become routine.
The protesters who began the civil war never in their wildest nightmares might have believed that their quiet protests against the regime's discriminatory treatment of the majority Sunni population of Syria, would result in the government's bitterly vicious crackdown. They became criminals in short order of having criticized Assad, hunted down, arrested, interrogated, tortured, and occasionally murdered; sometimes released from prison, battered but unchastened.
In the years since the beginning of the civil uprising responding to the regime's contempt of dissent and its method of dealing with an insurgency that was meant initially to be a reproach with the confidence that some workable arrangement leading toward equality could be reasonably agreed upon, the dissenters became outlaws to be hunted down, shot by snipers and by artillery, by helicopter gunships and bombed, their neighbourhoods razed and emptied of all but the dead.
In the five years that the conflict has raged while the destroyed country has been invaded by Islamist jihadis and terrorist groups who saw as opportunists an opening for themselves to become ensconced on an regime-abandoned territory, Sunni Iraqis too moved in to join, then split with al-Qaeda to present to an incredulous world the spectre of an atrocity-loving caliphate. In the five years since the conflict began, Bashar al-Assad has himself been just as hideously barbarous as Islamic State jihadis.
Almost a half-million Syrians have died at his hands, with the support of Iran's al Quds Republican Guard Corps, Lebanon's Hezbollah, Iraq's Shiite militias and Russian warplanes. Over half of the entire country's population has been internally displaced, and under constant threat of bombardment, starvation, privation, and death. Four million Sunni Syrians and Christians have fled the country; the Sunnis from the regime's threat of total obliteration, the Christians from the Islamic State threats.
Human rights violations taking place in Syria's prisons are simply yet another reflection of murderous malice on the part of the Syrian government, its Shiite allies and the Russian desire to retain and expand a firm foothold once again in the Middle East, with the abrogation of the former role of the United States in the region. In the Middle East, with its deadly tribal antipathies, its sectarian hatreds and violence, there does not appear to be any 'right' or 'wrong' kind of intervention hoping to deter Arabs and Muslims from slaughtering one another.
But all is not yet lost with foreign interventions hoping to move one crisis after another to a humane conclusion. Russia and the United States are undergoing diplomatic manoeuvring. With the understanding that Russia would be expected to persuade Assad to halt his offensives. Good luck! And in exchange the U.S. is to persuade Syrian rebels to sever any relationship with Nusra. Good luck!
Good luck, good luck, good luck.