Syrian activists on Wednesday held a sit-in outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland calling for the release of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
Participants of the sit-in, who included members of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and relatives of detainees, held placards stressing that they are making their demands on behalf of every Syrian family having their loved ones detained in Assad’s prisons.
Participants called for exercising pressure on the Assad regime to "immediately disclose all the names of detainees in its prisons; reveal their whereabouts and fate; and stop torture and ill-treatment of detainees.”
They also called for access for international humanitarian organizations to prisons and detention centers in Syria to introduce urgent medical and food supplies to detainees and for accesses to international human rights groups in order to check on the situation of detainees.
Participants stressed the importance of abolishing all special courts in Syria, particularly field courts, the court of terrorism, and court martials.
Rights groups have documented the detention of hundreds of thousands of civilians and dissidents by the Assad regime and presented compelling evidence of the death of thousands of detainees under torture in Assad’s prisons.
A forensic military photographer who defected from the Assad regime in 2015 leaked around 55,000 photos of the bodies of around 11,000 detainees bearing signs of systematic, severe torture and emaciation.
The US State Department on Tuesday said it had evidence the Assad regime has built a crematorium in the notorious Sednaya Prison to dispose of bodies of detainees, adding that about 50 bodies are burnt every day inside the facility. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir Hakim warned that international inaction towards the Assad regime’s use of chemical and non-conventional weapons against the Syrian people risks creating security threats affecting the whole world.
Hakim was speaking during a speech at an international conference on non-traditional threats in Asia and the Pacific held in the Korean capital Seoul with the participation of academics and military experts from several countries specializing in chemical weapons and the fight against terrorism.
Hakim pointed to the failure of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its mission to fully destroy Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons. He cited the regime’s use of sarin in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun as evidence of the UN’s failure to force Assad to give up his entire cache of chemical weapons.
The OPCW made two mistakes, Hakim said; the first was failing to ascertain the quantity of chemical weapons the Assad regime has declared, and secondly, the OPCW gave medics and first responders in Syria a false sense of security. He added that medics and first responders, already working under great pressure, have repeatedly been caught unprepared to deal with attacks involving the use of chemical weapons in attacks on rebel-held areas.
Hakim called for expediting the OPCW investigation into Assad’s use of chemical weapons and to ensure the elimination of the remaining stockpile of chemical weapons. He also stressed the need for holding the Assad regime accountable for continuing to produce and use chemical weapons. He called for providing the Syrian people with equipment to protect them against Assad’s use of chemical weapons and equipment to remove and handle mines and IEDs left by the Assad regime’s militias and ISIS militants.
Hakim said that death caused by chemical weapons account for one percent of the total death toll in Syria, while conventional weapons are responsible for 99 percent. Hakim stressed the need to put an end to all attacks on Syrian civilians. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif will meet with the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura at the UN headquarters in Geneva on Thursday.
Seif and members of the Coalition’s political committee Hadi Bahra and Hussam Khalil will discuss the ongoing political process in Geneva with the UN envoy.
Seif today said that the Syrian opposition is primarily seeking to reach a political transition to get rid of the decades-long tyrannical rule of the Assad regime.
Seif stressed the need for the United Nations to assume its responsibilities and push towards a comprehensive ceasefire and ensure that all forms of bombardment end across Syria.
Detainees in Assad’s prisons is one of the most important issues that will be raised during the meeting with the international envoy, Seif said. Seif added that war crimes are taking place on a daily basis inside the prisons of the Assad regime, citing the mounting evidence of such crimes. The United Nations must have a clear position on these crimes and work on ensuring accountability, Seif stressed. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition said that the main goal the Syrian opposition’s delegation to Geneva talks is trying to achieve is to liberate Syria from the Assad regime, Russia, and the Iranian-backed sectarian militias.
"The Assad regime is afraid of engaging in Geneva negotiations aimed at achieving a real political transition," said member of the Coalition’s political committee Okab Yahya. "Bashar al-Assad remains the biggest obstacle to the negotiating process as he still insists on pursuing a military solution to cling to power.”
Yahya, who is participating in the current round of Geneva negotiations as an adviser, said that “Russia and Iran are aiding and abetting the crimes of the Assad regime and continue to disrupt efforts aimed at reaching a political solution.”
A new round of talks in Geneva began on Tuesday and is expected to last until Friday to discuss the political transition process set out in the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan stressed that the Assad regime "relies on those who show the utmost disregard to the UN Security Council resolutions and to the efforts aimed at bringing about peace in Syria," referring to the Iranian-backed sectarian militias.
Farhan, who is currently in Geneva as part of the opposition delegation, called on the United Nations to stand up to the Iranian-backed terrorist militias, adding that Iran is seeking to implement a sectarian project in the region by spreading its extremist ideology and changing the demographic landscape in Syria.
Farhan went on to say that Iran is an occupying state in Syria, calling on the international community to take serious measures to force the Iranian militias out of all Syrian territory and ensure accountability for all crimes committed against the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)