Amnesty: Nearly 18,000 Syrian prisoners have died since start of civil war

The Amnesty report documents 65 "torture survivors" who detail flagrant abuses by Syrian prison guards, including rape and beatings.

August 18, 2016 11:55
1 minute read.
Syrian refugees are reflected in a puddle as they wait for their turn to enter Macedonia

Syrian refugees are reflected in a puddle as they wait for their turn to enter Macedonia at Greece's border. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A recently released report by Amnesty International claims that nearly 18,000 Syrian prisoners have died since the start of a popular uprising in 2011, according to the BBC Thursday.

The British broadcaster says the Amnesty document sites 65 "torture survivors" who detail flagrant abuses by Syrian prison officers, including rape and beatings.

Witnesses say guards would routinely assault detainees with metal bars and electric cables as they entered the prison system. New female detainees, the report claims, would be subjected to "security checks" that often involved sexual assaults.

Amnesty International estimates that 17,723 have been killed in Syrian prisons across the war-ravaged country since civil strife erupted in the spring of 2011 against President Bashar Assad. The human rights NGO noted that from March 2011 to December 2015 the equivalent of 10 people a day have died while in custody.

The Syrian government denies the allegations made against it by the Amnesty report, according to the BBC. 

One lawyer from Hama told Amnesty that prisoners were treated "like animals," adding "they wanted people to be as inhuman as possible."

"I saw the blood, it was like a river... I never imagined humanity would reach such a low level."

The NGO also claims that detainees are systematically denied medical attention throughout their detention.

Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Director, notes that "Syrian government forces have used torture as a means to crush their opponents" for decades.

"Today, it is being carried out as part of a systematic and widespread attack directed against anyone suspected of opposing the government in the civilian population and amounts to crimes against humanity," he added.

An estimated 250,000 Syrians have been killed and another 11 million displaced since the start of a civil war in the Arab nation over five years ago, according to the UN. 


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