23 September 2011
Fresh evidence of the extreme brutality being meted out to
Syrian protesters and their families has been revealed today by Amnesty
The mutilated body of
18-year-old Zainab al-Hosni of Homs, the first woman known to have died in
custody during Syria’s recent unrest, was discovered by her family in horrific
circumstances on 13 September.
The family was
visiting a morgue to identify the body of Zainab’s activist brother Mohammad,
who was also arrested and apparently tortured and killed in detention. Zainab
had been decapitated, her arms cut off, and skin removed.
Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “If it is confirmed
that Zainab was in custody when she died, this would be one of the most
disturbing cases of a death in detention we have seen so far.
“We have documented
other cases of protesters whose bodies were returned to their families in a mutilated
state during recent months, but this is particularly shocking.”
103 deaths in custody
The killings of Zainab and Mohammad bring Amnesty
International’s records of reported deaths in custody to 103 cases since mass
protests in Syria began in March this year.
has recorded 15 new deaths in custody cases since its report Deadly detention:
Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria, published on 31 August. The
bodies have borne signs of beating, shooting and stabbing.
Zainab al-Hosni was
abducted by plain-clothes individuals believed to be members of the security
forces on 27 July, apparently to pressure her activist brother Mohammad Deeb
al-Hosni to turn himself in.
al-Hosni, 27, had been organising protests in Homs since demonstrations began.
After Zainab’s arrest in July, he was apparently told on the phone by her
captors that she would only be released if he stopped his anti-regime
He was eventually
arrested on 10 September and held at the Political Security branch in Homs.
Signs of torture
Their mother was summoned by security forces to pick up
Mohammad’s dead body from a military hospital only three days later, on 13
September. The body showed signs of torture including bruising on the back and
cigarette burns on the body. He had been shot in the right arm, right leg, and
three times in the chest.
By chance, their
mother discovered Zainab’s mutilated body at the same military hospital.
However, the family was not permitted to take Zainab’s body home until 17
Their mother was said
to have been made to sign a document saying that Zainab and Mohammad had been
kidnapped and killed by an armed gang.
Colm O’Gorman said: “The torture and murder of peaceful
protestors is continuing in Syria.”
“The mounting toll of
reports of people dying behind bars provides yet more evidence of crimes
against humanity. The UN Security Council must refer the situation in Syria to
the International Criminal Court.”
has compiled the names of more than 2,200 people reported to have died since
pro-reform protests began. Thousands of others have been arrested, with many
held incommunicado at unknown locations at risk of torture or death.