Syrian authorities commit torture on 'massive scale' in govt prisons: Amnesty
Syrian authorities are committing torture on a 'massive scale' in government prisons including beatings, electric shocks, rape and psychological abuse that amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
Beirut: Syrian authorities are committing torture on a "massive scale" in government prisons including beatings, electric shocks, rape and psychological abuse that amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
More than 17,700 people are estimated to have died in custody in Syria since the country's conflict began in March 2011, an average of more than 300 each month, the watchdog said in a report.
Anyone seen as an opponent of the government is at risk of arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance and death in custody, according to Amnesty.
It said the report was based on interviews with 65 torture survivors, mostly civilians, who described "appalling abuse and inhuman conditions" in intelligence agency detention centres and the Saydnaya Military Prison near Damascus.
Most described witnessing at least one, if not several, deaths in custody, Amnesty said.
Detainees are frequently subjected to a beating, known as a "welcome party", after their arrival at a prison by guards using tools such as silicone bars or hoses.
"They had to break us; they treated us like animals. They wanted people to be as inhuman as possible," according to a former detainee identified as Samer, who Amnesty said was arrested while transporting humanitarian supplies.
"I didn't see anyone die but I saw the blood, it was like a river," he said.
Omar S, who was a 17-year-old high-school student at the time of his arrest in 2012 after taking part in demonstrations, said the detainees were asked upon their arrival if they were ill.
"It felt like the purpose was death, some form of natural selection — to get rid of the weak as soon as they arrive," he said.
"They first asked my friend and he said, 'Yes, I have breathing problems — I have asthma.' They started beating him until he died, right there in front of me."
The rights group said it had documented cases of rape and sexual violence against both men and women.
They include Said, a pro-democracy activist, who said that he was suspended by one hand while blindfolded.
"While I was hanging ... they used an electroshock baton to hit my penis. Then they took the electroshock device and inserted it into my anus and switched it on. This was my first experience of rape. Then one of the guards asked for my face to be uncovered and I saw my father there. He had witnessed all of it."
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Premier League: Saudi Arabia-led consortium's Newcastle United bid ends over piracy, human rights issues
Premier League spent four months considering whether to approve the 300 million pound takeover of Newcastle that would have seen Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund gain an 80 percent stake in it.
The Beirut blast was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recent history, according to Brian Castner, lead weapons investigator for Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team
Beirut blast: Searchers recover more bodies days after explosion at city's port; toll reaches 149, over 5,000 hurt
Among the four bodies recovered from the rubble of Beirut's port in the last 24 hours was that of 23-year-old Joe Akiki, a port worker missing since Tuesday's explosion