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Amnesty International report on Syria: Torture in detention

14 March 2012

Syria is bleeding! New report finds systemic and widespread torture and ill-treatment in detention

A new report on torture, the one year anniversary of the uprisings, ongoing slaughter and a need to take action will see Amnesty International and Syrian Solidarity New Zealand stand together on Saturday 17th March in Auckland to ask, “How much blood needs to be shed before the world helps Syria?”

Amnesty International has today released the report, ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out, which documents 31 methods of torture or other ill-treatment by security forces, army and pro-government armed shabiha gangs, described by witnesses or victims to Amnesty International researchers in Jordan in February 2012.

"The testimonies our researchers have heard give disturbing insights into a system of detention and interrogation which, a year after protests began, appears intended primarily to degrade, humiliate and terrify its victims into silence," said Rebecca Emery Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International said that the testimonies of torture survivors presented yet more evidence of crimes against humanity in Syria.

“We’re appalled at the senseless shelling of civilians, the cold-blooded torture and the failure of the global community to act,” said Emery.

The organisation has repeatedly called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) but political factors have so far prevented this happening, with Russia and China twice blocking weakened UN Security Council draft resolutions that made no reference to the ICC.

“We cannot sit idly by while defenceless people are slaughtered and are denied human rights, it’s time to deliver a strong message to Russia - as the leading arms supplier to Syria - to stop the flow of guns, bombs and other munitions that continues to fuel President Al-Assad’s bloody crackdown.”

More than 6,500 people have died in the unrest, while many more thousands have been injured. Those thousands who have been arrested are often held in centres where torture is commonplace, and where at least 270 people have died in custody.

“We’re also calling on the Syrian government to immediately give humanitarian agencies and human rights organisation full and unhindered access,” adds Emery.

At the vigil on Saturday, people will have the chance to sign “bandages” calling on the Russian government to use its influence with the Syrian government to immediately end excessive use of force against residential areas and allow peaceful dissent. The Syrian community will be seeking donations in support of humanitarian assistance and providing first-hand accounts of previous attacks which saw them previously forced to flee Syria.

What: Stand up with Syrian Solidarity New Zealand and Amnesty International to take action on behalf of the people of Syria

When: Saturday, March 17, 2.30 - 3.30pm

Where: Aotea Square, Queen Street, Auckland

Further Background: In light of the failure to secure an ICC referral, Amnesty International said it wanted to see the UN Human Rights Council extend the mandate of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria and reinforce its capacity to monitor, document and report, with a view to eventual prosecutions of those responsible for crimes under international law and other gross violations of human rights.

Map: The new research on torture is presented on Amnesty International's Eyes on Syria website (www.eyesonsyriaorg), an interactive mapping platform that documents human rights violations in the context of the popular uprising.


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