Syria hanged 13,000 in Saydnaya prison: Amnesty

Syria hanged 13,000 in Saydnaya prison

SYRIA, Feb 7: As many as 13,000 people were hanged in five years at a notorious Syrian prison near Damascus, Amnesty International has said, accusing the government of a “policy of extermination”.

Titled “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass hanging and extermination at Saydnaya prison,” Amnesty’s damning report, released on Tuesday, is based on interviews with 84 witnesses, including guards, detainees, and judges.

It found that at least once a week between 2011 and 2015, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells for arbitrary trials, beaten, then hanged “in the middle of the night and in total secrecy.

Most of the victims were civilians believed to be opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Amnesty said the practices amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and were likely still taking place.

Thousands of prisoners are held in the military-run Saydnaya prison, one of the country’s largest detention centres located 30 km north of Damascus.

Syria hanged 13,000 in Saydnaya prison

Amnesty accused the Syrian government of carrying out a “policy of extermination”, repeatedly torturing detainees and withholding food, water, and medical care.

Prisoners were also raped or forced to rape each other, and guards would feed detainees by tossing meals onto the cell floor, which was often covered in dirt and blood, the report said.

According to the report, the bodies were taken away by the truckload to be secretly buried in mass graves. Their families were given no information about their fate.

Amnesty has previously said that more than 17,700 people were estimated to have died in government custody across Syria since the country’s conflict erupted in 2011.

The figure of 13,000 deaths in a single prison, therefore, is a marked increase.

A probe by the UN last year accused Assad’s government of a policy of “extermination” in its jails.

The UN estimates that more than 400,000 people have been killed and millions have fled their homes since the conflict began with anti-Assad protests.AGENCIES