Amnesty: Thousands hanged in Syrian jail

Lynn MaaloufLynn Maalouf, deputy director of research at Amnesty International. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

In a prison known as the “butchers house” , Syrian authorities will have executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people by hanging over the last five years.
The executions and horrific torture methods discussed in a recent report by Amnesty, are based on interviews with 84 witnesses, including guards, prisoners and judges.

– The horrors described in this report reveal a hidden, despicable campaign, approved at the highest levels in the Syrian government to crush any meaningful opposition in the Syrian population, says Deputy Director Lynn Maalouf at the Amnesty regional office in Beirut.

In the period 2011 to 2015, 20-50 people per week were hanged in Saydnaya prison north of Damascus . The report discusses the targeted executions without trial.

Beaten and hanged
At least once a week, groups of up to 50 people were taken from their cells at the prison and put in front of some sort of makeshift court and convicted, beaten and hanged – secretely in the middle of the night .

The victims were blindfolded the entire time. Amnesty describes these procedures and methods as war crimes and crimes against humanity, saying the practices are likely to still take place.

– They do not know when or how they are going to die, before the loop is placed around their necks, the Amnesty report said.

Most victims mentioned in the report were civilians, probably opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

– They let them hang there for 10 to 15 minutes, a witness and former judge explained.


Many thousands of prisoners remain in Saydnaya prison, which is controlled by the military in Syria. Amnesty International has recorded at least 35 different methods of torture in Syria since the late 1980s, methods that according to Maalouf has been used increasingly since the civil war started in 2011.

Amnesty accuses the Syrian government of extermination methods of torture and of denying the prisoners food, drink and access to medical care. The prison is known to have had special rules, including a ban on talking and prisoners being ordered to line up in a certain way every time the keepers came into the cells.

Prisoners have allegedly been raped or been forced to rape each other. The ‘dungeon guards’  have also thrown the meals to inmates on to the cell floor, often covered in dirt and blood.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today