Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Cells of Death in Saydnaya … 13,000 Executed | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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he military-run Saydnaya prison has been the site for 13,000 executions in the last five years, Amnesty International reports. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Amnesty International

Beirut- Amnesty International (AI) uncovered in a report issued Monday that between 2011 and 2015, twice every week, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of the Saydnaya prison cells and hanged to death.

The report entitled “Human slaughterhouse: Mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya prison,” uncovers the practices authorized by the Syrian regime and which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to the report, as many as 13,000 people, most of them civilians believed to be opposed to the regime, were hanged in secret at Saydnaya prison, located 30 kilometers north of Damascus.

AI said that the findings of its report are based on an intensive investigation, which was carried out over the course of one year, from December 2015 to December 2016. It involved first-hand interviews with 84 witnesses that included former Saydnaya guards and officials, detainees, judges and lawyers, as well as national and international experts on detention in Syria.

The report also said that detainees at Saydnaya prison had been put to a one or two-minute trial at a so-called Military Field Court in Damascus before they were hanged.

Throughout the process of their hanging, the detainees remained blindfolded. “They do not know when or how they will die until the noose was placed around their necks,” the report said.

Thousands of prisoners are currently detained in the mentioned prison, which is run by regime forces and considered the largest in the country.

The organization accused in its report the regime of Bashar Assad of conducting a calculated campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya prison.

Fadel Abdul Ghany, head of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the AI report refers to the practices conducted before 2015 because after this date, we were unable to get additional information when the Syrian regime almost stopped releasing detainees from the prison.”