President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) Anas Abdah sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regarding tens of thousands of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime and the danger of the coronavirus to their lives.
President Abdah said that the Assad regime continues to deny the existence of any cases of the coronavirus in Syria. “However, based on the numbers in the region and given the fact that the regime opened Syria’s borders wide for militias coming from Iran, now a hotbed for the virus, it is impossible to believe there are no coronavirus cases in Syria.”
“The risks of the pandemic are not limited to civilians in the regime-held areas as tens of thousands of detainees in the regime’s prisons and detention centers represent a very vulnerable group,” the letter added.
“There is plethora of evidence that point to the practices of the Syrian regime with regards to the detainees, the least of which are denying them the necessary food and medical care, confining them in overcrowded cells, and continuing to violate their rights by various means. All of which are conducive to the spread of diseases and viruses such as the coronavirus, which is a global threat.”
Moreover, President Abdah said that in addition to torture and extrajudicial killings, the inhumane conditions in the regime’s detention facilities cause dozens to die on a daily basis. If the pandemic finds its way into these overcrowded facilities – if it has not already – we will be facing a catastrophe that the regime might exploit to get rid of the detainees.
President Abdah urged the UN to use all the means at its disposal to exert real pressure on the regime to force it to give relevant organizations, like the International Committee of the Red Cross, immediate and full access to detention centers in order to ascertain the conditions of detainees.
He also called for pressing for saving the lives of tens of thousands of detainees and ensure their immediate release.
He also called on the humanitarian organizations, relevant United Nations agencies, the World Health Organization, and the International Committee of the Red Cross to carry out their duties with regards to the situation in Syria, including pressuring the regime to have complete access to detention sites and elsewhere to be able to closely monitor the spread of the pandemic. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)