Syrian Bashar Al-Assad systematically killed thousands of political opponents at his prisons in Damascus, Amnesty International reports.
Several surviving prisoners described a dystopian hell-scape in which prisoners were raped, forced to rape other prisoners, starved to death, and left to sleep on floors coated in blood. Amnesty estimated up to 13,000 prisoners were hung at the military prison since 2011, but could not arrive at a definite estimate. The reports only cover the period through December, 2015.
“The cell floors are covered with blood and puss from prisoners’ wounds. The bodies of dead detainees are collected by the prison guards each morning, around 9 a.m,” the report says. The prison even allegedly had special rules in place forbidding prisoners to speak, or even look guards in the eyes. Violation of these rules was punishable by death.
Prisoners were allegedly hanged in the middle of the night in a nearby building basement approximately 50 at a time. The Guardian notes:
One former detainee, Hamid (not his real name), told me how he could hear the sounds of the hangings as he and other prisoners slept on the floor of the rooms above: “There was a sound of something being pulled out – like a piece of wood, I’m not sure – and then you would hear the sound of them being strangled … If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of the gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes … We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then.”
Assad’s treatment of political prisoners should come as no surprise. Throughout his nearly six-year military campaign in the Syrian civil war, his forces showed a systematic disregard for human life, often barrel-bombing civilian populations. The current death toll in the Syrian civil war is approximately 500,000, with the vast majority of deaths attributed to those killed by the Syrian regime.
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