Rights Group: 215,000 Syrians Detained in Assad’s Prisons

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) released a report on secret detention centers of the Assad regime. With the accumulating, ceaseless widespread, and systematic arrests and detentions is continuing at the hands of government forces (The army, security forces, or the local and Shiite militias), the number of detainees has exceeded 215,000 according to SNHR’s estimation. SNHR has documented approximately 110,000 whilst the fates of tens of thousands remain unknown. As a result, the official detention centers, the four main security branches and its sub-branches has been completely overfilled with detainees. Since the beginning of 2012, government forces has begun using schools, stadiums, some buildings and villas as detention camps which is similar to the Nazi and Stalinist camps. The secret detention centers are controlled by local militias (The National Defense Army and the Popular Committees) which are affiliated to the Assad regime that worked on facilitating these militias’ work in exchange of insuring the cooperation of these militias in raids, clashes, and terrorizing the residents of the nearby areas. This is the case in Der Shmiel detention center where the majority of the forces that control the camp are residents from the surrounding towns and villages. The center is administered by about 1,500 Shabihas (paramilitary forces) who include women according to local activists and residents in these areas. Investigations and former prisoners’ testimonies suggested that the main purpose of this kind of detention centers is brutal torture. The brutality of torture in these secret detention centers surpasses other security branches’ by far. The torture in Der Shmiel has a religious background. Additionally, it is extremely rare for anyone to get out alive from the camp. SNHR, after years of searching, managed to find only one survivor who was formerly imprisoned inside Der Shmiel secret camp. The second goal is gaining large amounts of money as most of the detainees inside these secret detention centers were kidnapped. Last August, the ‏‎Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice released a report in cooperation with the Syrian Coalition to highlight the crimes of enforced disappearance towards the Syrian people. Ammar Tabbab, director of the Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice and director of the file of enforced disappearances, said that “the commission recorded more than 60,000 cases of forced disappearances in Syria, among them 6,722 people who were liquidated including, 1348 children and 1511 women. He also said that “while Syria is not the first country where forced disappearance is recorded, it is the only country where an entire community has been forcibly disappeared,” citing the regime forces’ closing off of whole areas near Wadi al-Daif army base in Idlib province. Survivors who managed to flee those areas were not given the chance to know the fate of their beloved ones. Examples of cases of enforced disappearances have been corroborated by the 55,000 photos leaked by Caesar, which leaves no room for doubt about the regime’s responsibility. However, the world chose to remain silent for political reasons with a complete disregard for human lives. In contrast, the international community lost no time to declare war on ISIS, which shows its double standards as it condoned the original criminal and chose to counter ISIS whose crimes are only an extension and reflection of those of the Assad regime. Ironically, the international community and the Assad regime are trying to find an excuse through an enforced disappearance to extend the scope of the implementation of the UN resolution to Syria, namely the case of the American journalist James Foley, who was executed by ISIS after he went missing in the end of 2012, even before ISIS began to exist. The world’s silence over the photos of 11,000 detainees, leaked by Caesar, proves that in our world the decision to apply justice is determined by the victim’s nationality, as the 11,000 Syrian detainees were not a match to one U.S. national.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Al Jazeera + SNHR)