Assad revives father's extreme torture methods in Syria

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has taken out the torture toolkit his father once employed as he engages in the most widespread and appalling abuses his country has suffered in decades in an effort to put down a year-old rebellion.

“In terms of the number of people being tortured, and the level of torture and the type, of which the more gruesome are now being inflicted, we are seeing the return of the very dark days of the 1970s and 1980s, when Bashar’s father Hafez was in power,” Neil Sammonds, Syria researcher at Amnesty International, told The Media Line.

Sammands is one of the authors of a report, “I Wanted to Die:” Syria’s Torture Survivors Speak Out, which the London-based human rights organization released on Wednesday and documents a wide range of practices the regime has used against its citizens since rebellion broke out.

All told, the report identified 31 methods of torture and other ill-treatment. Many of them, it said, were methods that had not been used in years as the incidence and severity of torture declined when Bashar Al-Assad took over Syria after his father’s death in 2000. The younger Al-Assad presided over a period of liberalization when he became president, but quickly backtracked. nevertheless, he had until a year ago faced little domestic unrest.

The report comes as Damascus launches an assault on rebel redoubts in the north that have left scores dead and accusations of widespread abuse and torture. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists, released footage this week showing men, women and children lying dead in a blood-drenched room, many with their throats slit.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that it would soon deploy human rights monitors in countries bordering Syria to collect eyewitness testimony on atrocities committed in the country.

In its report Amnesty said people are almost invariably beaten and tortured and ill-treated during arrest, often again transportation to detention centers, and routinely once they arrive. Among the victims are children under 18, but in relatively few cases are women targeted for abuse, it said.

Among the methods of torture revived over the last several months, Amnesty said, is shabeh, whereby the victim is hung on a raised hook, handle or door frame, or by manacled wrists, so that his feet hang just above the ground while he is beaten. Researchers found evidence for the frequent use of electric shocks as well as rape and other tortures and ill-treatment of a sexual nature, all of which had largely gone into abeyance.

Among the techniques Amnesty documented is one called the “German Chair,” in which the detainees are tied by their arms and legs to a metal seat, the back of which is moved backwards. That causes acute stress to the spine and severe pressure on the neck and limbs, often resulting in permanent injury.

“I was hanged from the metal handcuffs on my hands attached to the wall. This hugely strained my hands and was very painful,” a man identified only as “Mousa” testified to Amnesty investigators. He said he was held at the Military Intelligence branch in the southern city of Dera’a last October before fleeing the country to Jordan.

“I also suffered the ‘German chair’ torture method and while in that position I was given electric shocks. I was also hanged from the window and my feet did not reach the ground for a few days… By the end of it, I lost my sense of pain – even that caused by electric shocks,” he said.

Amnesty based its conclusions on the extent of torture in Syria on a tiny number of the victims whose testimony was collected in Jordan last month. Investigators met dozens of Syrians, some 25 of whom said they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention.

Sammands said it was impossible to estimate how many people have been subject to torture in the last months since the government bans human rights groups from entering the country. But, he said, it is quite likely that the number was huge as tens of thousands of Syrians have been arrested.

“I would say that most of them are tortured, which means that tens of thousands have been tortured. Without access to the country, it’s hard to be precise, but we have very few examples of people who have been detained who have not been tortured,” Sammands said.

The Syrian government has insisted that rebels have kidnapped and killed scores of civilians, mutilated their bodies and filmed the corpses in order to libel the regime

Amnesty said it was investigating reports of abuses by opposition groups, including the kidnapping and killing of people apparently because they openly support the government or are members of the armed gangs known as shabiha, which are widely believed to operate on its behalf.

“There are a worrying number of reports of alleged torture and alleged execution of people captured by the opposition,” Sammands said. But, he noted, that there was no evidence of a systematic policy of abuse by opposition leaders as there appears to be by the government in Damascus.

The number of people reported to have died in custody reached 276 as of this month but, Amnesty said, that given that so many Syrians are believed held incommunicado the true figure is likely to be higher.

Amnesty scored the Al-Assad regime’s claims to be reforming the legal system and security arms to prevent abuses. The government ended a five-decade-long state of emergency 11 months ago, but a law enacted shortly afterwards effectively neutralized the impact by extending detention without charge to 60 days and allowing the police to pass their powers of arrest and detention to the country’s multiple security and intelligence agencies. Other legislation grants effective impunity to those who commit torture.

The Media Line

  • leobetapar

    not differant of what happen in Bahrain and in Saudia I remenber well Amnesty during the appartheid they never agree to call for freing Mandela or againsts appartheid because it was the legal laws of SA on these time ~In fact amnesty is the pirece mouth of the occident a big shit who shout about Syria but is quiet about bahrein or Saudia Or USA what about Numia in the state Amnesty big shit

    • Beiruti

      two wrongs dont make a right leo, all those things you mentioned are terrible but it justifies nothing in Syria.

      • Actually your words are similar to the words of Socrates. You cannot repair one evil by doing another one. Torture is wrong in any case and should be totally banned in any country.

        • dabshaleem

           tortue 1 salafiete + 1 wahabi  + 1 zioniste = goood man mr

      • dabshaleem

        no two right make wrong mr

    • Beiruti

      two wrongs dont make a right leo, all those things you mentioned are terrible but it justifies nothing in Syria.

      • Actually your words are similar to the words of Socrates. You cannot repair one evil by doing another one. Torture is wrong in any case and should be totally banned in any country.

      • dabshaleem

        no two right make wrong mr

    • Rafic

       So what you are saying if one nation does it it is OK that the regime does it too, is that how you justify things in your brain, who ever does it A Wrong is Always Wrong.

      • leobetapar

        yeah for sure you right but Assad defend the democratie and the multisecularisme he have the duty to fight the terrorist armed by saudia and quatar

        • dabshaleem

          yu goood mr c’mon mr

          • leobetapar

            thanks Dabshaleem

        • dabshaleem

          yu goood mr c’mon mr

      • dabshaleem

        salafiets ar no worth nothin mr yu hapy with assad when salafiete harriri alive mr

    • LEBANON101

      go to hell . because bahrain does it its ok for al assad to do it right ? i hope u and al assad and the dogs from SA and Bahrian all go to hell 

      • leobetapar

        u confused guy take a break have some rest or take pills
        but do something caused you really confused

    • LEBANON101

      go to hell . because bahrain does it its ok for al assad to do it right ? i hope u and al assad and the dogs from SA and Bahrian all go to hell 

  • leobetapar

    not differant of what happen in Bahrain and in Saudia I remenber well Amnesty during the appartheid they never agree to call for freing Mandela or againsts appartheid because it was the legal laws of SA on these time ~In fact amnesty is the pirece mouth of the occident a big shit who shout about Syria but is quiet about bahrein or Saudia Or USA what about Numia in the state Amnesty big shit

    • Beiruti

      two wrongs dont make a right leo, all those things you mentioned are terrible but it justifies nothing in Syria.

      • Actually your words are similar to the words of Socrates. You cannot repair one evil by doing another one. Torture is wrong in any case and should be totally banned in any country.

        • dabshaleem

           tortue 1 salafiete + 1 wahabi  + 1 zioniste = goood man mr

      • dabshaleem

        no two right make wrong mr

    • Rafic

       So what you are saying if one nation does it it is OK that the regime does it too, is that how you justify things in your brain, who ever does it A Wrong is Always Wrong.

      • leobetapar

        yeah for sure you right but Assad defend the democratie and the multisecularisme he have the duty to fight the terrorist armed by saudia and quatar

        • dabshaleem

          yu goood mr c’mon mr

          • leobetapar

            thanks Dabshaleem

      • dabshaleem

        salafiets ar no worth nothin mr yu hapy with assad when salafiete harriri alive mr

    • LEBANON101

      go to hell . because bahrain does it its ok for al assad to do it right ? i hope u and al assad and the dogs from SA and Bahrian all go to hell 

      • leobetapar

        u confused guy take a break have some rest or take pills
        but do something caused you really confused

  • Beiruti

    Revived? They have been always theres since time. I remember how they used to torture some Lebanese people, youd hear stories of Syrian mukhabarat and soldiers taking out peoples eyes with spoons, removing all their fingers nails with plyers, putting ciggarretes on their bodies, this Syrian regime is a very sick one.

  • Beiruti

    Revived? They have been always theres since time. I remember how they used to torture some Lebanese people, youd hear stories of Syrian mukhabarat and soldiers taking out peoples eyes with spoons, removing all their fingers nails with plyers, putting ciggarretes on their bodies, this Syrian regime is a very sick one.

  • 5thDrawer

    Nice old pen-sketch of the inquisition times … waiting for the confession before cutting out a tongue? Not quite at the kill-point, and everyone serious in their ‘necessary’ business. As expected, a woman to titilate the audience. Perhaps the typical religious guy giving the blessing.
    Trouble is, they didn’t have recording devices back then. These days they can take a video of a body coming apart. The Assad family must have a large library … wonder if they transferred Dad’s tapes to disc yet?

  • 5thDrawer

    Nice old pen-sketch of the inquisition times … waiting for the confession before cutting out a tongue? Not quite at the kill-point, and everyone serious in their ‘necessary’ business. As expected, a woman to titilate the audience. Perhaps the typical religious guy giving the blessing.
    Trouble is, they didn’t have recording devices back then. These days they can take a video of a body coming apart. The Assad family must have a large library … wonder if they transferred Dad’s tapes to disc yet?

  • 5thDrawer

    Nice old pen-sketch of the inquisition times … waiting for the confession before cutting out a tongue? Not quite at the kill-point, and everyone serious in their ‘necessary’ business. As expected, a woman to titilate the audience. Perhaps the typical religious guy giving the blessing.
    Trouble is, they didn’t have recording devices back then. These days they can take a video of a body coming apart. The Assad family must have a large library … wonder if they transferred Dad’s tapes to disc yet?

  • I’m not surprised. I read Patrik Seal’s biography of Hafez al Assad, and I was amazed to learn how cruel was Assad senior to his former friends and allies , one of them died in jail after severe beating.
     

    • dabshaleem

      yu salafiete or wahabi mr

      • yazidi

        yu faqihi or shytani mr go to karbalashit mr

      • No. I’m an Atheist. I don’t believe in any religion.

        • 5thDrawer

          Omerika … you should read a new book out named ‘Religion For Atheists’. A fellow human notes that there are many good things we can all agree on being necessary to a happy life and successful societies without the attachment to creationist theories.

  • I’m not surprised. I read Patrik Seal’s biography of Hafez al Assad, and I was amazed to learn how cruel was Assad senior to his former friends and allies , one of them died in jail after severe beating.
     

  • I’m not surprised. I read Patrik Seal’s biography of Hafez al Assad, and I was amazed to learn how cruel was Assad senior to his former friends and allies , one of them died in jail after severe beating.
     

    • dabshaleem

      yu salafiete or wahabi mr

      • yazidi

        yu faqihi or shytani mr go to karbalashit mr

      • No. I’m an Atheist. I don’t believe in any religion.

        • 5thDrawer

          Omerika … you should read a new book out named ‘Religion For Atheists’. A fellow human notes that there are many good things we can all agree on being necessary to a happy life and successful societies without the attachment to creationist theories.

  • Fauzia45

    And so as a result , ¨victory will be claimed¨!!What a shame!!!

  • Fauzia45

    And so as a result , ¨victory will be claimed¨!!What a shame!!!

  • yazidi

    its good idea when nasarshytan be put on this machine and test it then he will know that his moqawshit is a big fraud and his faqihi ideoshit is a scam!!

  • yazidi

    its good idea when nasarshytan be put on this machine and test it then he will know that his moqawshit is a big fraud and his faqihi ideoshit is a scam!!

  • Leborigine

    Mentally weak, uneducated and uncivilized third world countries use these methods as they cannot accept new ideas, do not accept change and really think that this is how you get the message across. Well they are wrong, what goes around comes around. These torturers will taste their own medicine one day.

  • Leborigine

    Mentally weak, uneducated and uncivilized third world countries use these methods as they cannot accept new ideas, do not accept change and really think that this is how you get the message across. Well they are wrong, what goes around comes around. These torturers will taste their own medicine one day.