The Syrian Network for Human Rights has been able to confirm and document that the Syrian regime has arrested no less than 194,000 Syrian citizens since March 2011. Those include around 9,000 people under 18 and 600 women.
The figure also includes no less than 60,000 cases of forced disappearance which refers to cases where persons are arrested, detained, or abducted by a state or political organization or by authorization, support or disregard of such action by such bodies who subsequently refuse to acknowledge such act or provide information about those persons’ status or location in order to deprive them from legal protection for an extended period of time.
This description applies to around 60,000 detainees. SNHR keeps lists of 32,000 of them from different Syrian governorates and cities. Hundreds of cases remain undocumented as families refuse to cooperate or share any information for fear the life of their detainee would be at risk.
According to Item 1(i), Aticle 7, Part 2 of the Rome Statute, forced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population”.
The number of detainees is distributed as follows:
Damascus Suburbs: 30,000
Deir Ezzour: 12,000
Tartous and Banyas: 3,000
Detainees are subjected to horrific torture. SNHR has been able to document no less than 46 torture methods such as:
1. All types of beating on different body parts using different tools such as sticks or electric cable. In addition, Falaka (the local term for beating the detainee’s feet soles using sticks or cables), stepping on their heads and other methods are common place.
2. Removing the detainee’s nails.
3. Plucking body and face hair.
4. Using metal tongs to remove flesh from sensitive parts of the body
5. Rape (of male and female detainees alike)
6. Forcing a detainee to rape another detainee
7. Cutting or amputating body parts such as cutting fingers, removing flesh, stabbing the back or the stomach of the detainee
8. Burn the detainee’s skin using chemical acids or cigarettes
9. Exposing detainees to extreme weather by stripping them or depriving them from any blanket or cover
10. Depriving detainees from medical care completely (medical care is not available altogether in many prisons)
11. Forbidding the use of toilets more than once or twice a day and for one minute only which sometimes forces detainees to urinate in their clothes. Detainees are also deprived from bathing or access to open spaces and fresh air
12. Overcrowding cells with detainees beyond their original capacity (one cell in air force security prison in Aleppo is 15 m2 and accommodates 45 detainees)
13. Pouring cold water on the detainee’s body after beating and wounding
14. Breaking ribs
15. Providing them with very little food and water that is hardly quarter the needed amount
16. Forcing detainees to stand up for days or tying them to the ceiling by the arms
17. Keeping detainees in underground cells without proper ventilation
18. Locking men and women up in the same cells
19. Pouring boiling oil or boiling water on detainees’ legs
20. Cutting off the ear using garden scissors
21. Piercing the ear or nose using wood staplers
22. Tying the detainee to the ceiling and applying weight to their penis
23. Electrocution especially to the breasts, knees and elbows
This kind of systematic torture has killed around 1,200 citizens including 24 children and 16 women which constitutes a large number of women killed under torture.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights condemns in the strongest terms possible the use of all torture methods many of which date back to ancient times and Medieval Ages. SHNR asserts that such violent practices are not consistent with humanitarian values. It further holds the Syrian government and all its figures and representatives along with all those who ally with, cooperate with or support it (financially or morally) fully accountable for the physical, material and immaterial damages as more than 99% of the arrests take place outside the rule of law without arrest warrants of any kind. They are also deemed responsible for all reactions to such acts of arrest and torture.
SNHR calls on the international community and the UN Security Council to uphold humanitarian laws and conventions and cease to be a mere tool in the hands of dictatorships sometimes even supporting and defending them. Organizations of civil society around the world must put pressure on the Security Council and all its members to refer those responsible for such horrific acts in Syria to the ICC.