Syria conflict: Thousands hanged at Saydnaya prison, Amnesty says (from BBC News 7 February 2017)
A new report by the human rights group alleges that mass hangings took place every week at Saydnaya prison between September 2011 and December 2015. As many as 13,000 people, most of them civilian opposition supporters, have been executed in secret at a prison in Syria, Amnesty International says. Amnesty says the alleged executions were authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government. The government has previously denied killing or mistreating detainees. Amnesty interviewed 84 people, including former guards, detainees and officials at Saydnaya prison for its report. It alleges that every week, and often twice a week, groups of between 20 and 50 people were executed in total secrecy at the facility, just north of Damascus. Before their execution, detainees were brought before a “military field court” in the capital’s Qaboun district for “trials” lasting between one and three minutes, the report says. A former military court judge quoted by Amnesty said detainees would be asked if they had committed crimes alleged to have taken place. “Whether the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, he will be convicted… This court has no relation with the rule of law,” he said.
According to the report, detainees were told on the day of the hangings that they would be transferred to a civilian prison. Then they were taken to a basement cell and beaten over the course of two or three hours. Then in the middle of the night they were blindfolded and moved to another part of the prison, where they were taken into a room in the basement and told they had been sentenced to death just minutes before nooses were placed around their necks, the report adds.
On the basis of evidence of the testimony of its witnesses, Amnesty estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were executed at Saydnaya over a five year period.
Witness accounts. A former judge who saw the hangings:
“They kept them [hanging] there for 10 to 15 minutes. Some didn’t die because they are light. For the young ones, their weight wouldn’t kill them. The officers’ assistants would pull them down and break their necks.”
Former detainee ‘Sameer’ describes alleged abuse:
“The beating was so intense. It was as if you had a nail, and you were trying again and again to beat it into a rock. It was impossible, but they just kept going. I was wishing they would just cut off my legs instead of beating them any more.”
Source: Amnesty International. Amnesty says these practices amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Last August, Amnesty reported that an estimated 17,723 people had died in custody as a result of torture and the deprivation of food, water and medical care between March 2011 – when the uprising against President Assad began – and December 2015. That figure did not include those allegedly hanged at Saydnaya.
(That brings the total deaths to 24,000-30,000 when all the deaths are added up)
For the full article go to: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38885901
This is the cautionary tale. When you read this article, you will understand why this country, the USA, and its constitution provide a check and balance system which is supposed to uphold the rule of law. This is what is totally lacking in President Assad’s assault on humanity. It represents a clear and present danger to the United States under President Trump.
I think this article makes clear what happens to a nation that has as head of state, be that a Prime Minister, President or other, who is willing and able to act without restraint and where the government has managed to stack the cards against the citizens. We in America are facing some very difficult times now and in the future.
Over time our two party system has become increasingly polarized. Although members of the Congress and the Senate are elected AS INDIVIDUALS to represent their local constituencies it is clear that they no longer function as individuals. When you realize that only two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against Trump’s totally unqualified appointee DeVos as Secretary of Education, it is an outstanding example of how members of the Congress vote with their party and not with their conscience, their intelligence or their integrity. There is no way in this world that thinking individuals could vote for a Secretary of Education who has had no experience in the educational system, who has clearly favored private schools over public education. She has shown no respect for the constitutional rule freeing schools from religion. As the vote on her appointment came to 50/50, of course Mr. Pence cast the single majority vote, obviously in support of the appointment made by his boss, President Trump.
This is a minor example of what happens when the check and balance system no longer functions. When every Presidential whim, dictate or desire will be upheld by at least 50% of the Congress and a majority of 1, you begin to see how Syria ultimately became a total dictatorship— a government of 1, responsible to none.
While the example found in our thoughtless and egotistical leader may seem like a far cry from the deplorable state of Assad’s Syria, it is important to see how a lawless leadership can lead to the dismantling of a freedom that so many generations have fought and died to give us.
This is a time for the citizens of the United States to be vigilant in safeguarding their freedoms.
Remember, the German’s voted for Hitler, the Italians for Mussolini.