Thousands of documents found in abandoned Assad regime offices during the country’s war revealed the reach of Bashar al-Assad’s shadowy security agencies that sought to eliminate dissent at all costs, according to a rights report.
The documents were the basis of a report released Tuesday by the Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Center, which hopes they can eventually help in the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes.
Titled “Walls Have Ears, An Analysis of Classified Syrian Security Sector Documents,” the report is based on a sample of 5,000 documents and present some of the most damning evidence of state involvement — at the highest level — in the bloody crackdown on protesters, dissidents, and even foreign journalists in Syria.
The documents show the agencies created a network of informants that ensured the regime kept a close watch of the most mundane of Syrians’ everyday life. They also offer a rare look into the inner workings of the several security agencies as they sought to eliminate dissidents through detention, intimidation or killings.
Some of the documents include handwritten notes from top commanders to arrest, detain and “do what is necessary” to quell the unrest — a vague directive that has been found to mean use of lethal force. They also showed how security agencies and officials even spied on each other.
Several of the documents identify protesters by name, labeling many as terrorists without any evidence.
“The documents show clearly that orders were very centralized and came from really high-level officials, including from heads of the security agency themselves, and in lots of documents from the National Security Office,” said Mohammad Al-Abdallah, the director of the Washington-based group.
“This, combined with the nature of the orders — deployment of military units, surveillance, the use of lethal force, persecutions of the Kurds — all are proof a systematic state practice, and can be used as evidence to establish both the Syrian state responsibility and the individual criminal responsibility for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he added.
Al-Abdullah called on the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, to give priority to real reform of Syria’s security sector by integrating civilian control over the security agencies and disintegrating the security sector from the daily aspects of civilian life. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)