By conducting 200 interviews with former Syrian detainees and defectors, Human Rights Watch has put together a report detailing the abuses of the autocratic government during the political unrest that grew out of the Arab Spring.
The 81-page report, “Torture Archipelago: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and Enforced Disappearances in Syria’s Underground Prisons since March 2011,” and includes “maps locating the detention facilities, video accounts from former detainees, and sketches of torture techniques described by numerous people who witnessed or experienced torture in these facilities.”
“The intelligence agencies are running an archipelago of torture centers scattered across the country,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By publishing their locations, describing the torture methods, and identifying those in charge we are putting those responsible on notice that they will have to answer for these horrific crimes.”
According to the report, “Interrogators, guards, and officers used a broad range of torture methods, including prolonged beatings, often with objects such as batons and cables, holding the detainees in painful stress positions for prolonged periods of time, the use of electricity, burning with acid, sexual assault and humiliation, the pulling of fingernails, and mock execution.” Human Rights Watch documented over 20 distinct torture methods used by Syria’s security and intelligence services.
Most of the detainees who were tortured were men from 18 to 35 years old, but Human Rights Watch also found that elderly citiznes, women and children were tortured.
In a video interview, one former detainee relates how he and others were put in “shabeh,” a torture technique in which one is hung from the ceiling by one’s hands. He said, “Of course it’s painful. It degrades our humanity. But they have no respect for human beings.”
Watch the video below and read the full report over at Human Rights Watch.