‘The worst place on earth’: Inside Assad’s brutal Saydnaya prison

A Syrian man is seen being beaten during a so-called 'welcome party' when he first entered Saydnaya prison. (via Amnesty International)

Almost 18,000 Syrians have died in government jails since 2011, with authorities using torture, beatings, electric shocks and rape against prisoners on a “massive scale,” Amnesty International said in a new investigative report.

Anyone suspected of opposing the Syrian government was at risk. Labourers, business people, students, bloggers, university professors, lawyers, doctors and journalists and even people helping their neighbors, the report said.

‘It breaks the human’: Torture, disease and death in Syria’s prisons documents crimes against humanity committed by government forces. It retraces the experiences of thousands of detainees through the cases of 65 torture survivors who described appalling abuse and inhuman conditions in security branches operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and in Saydnaya Military Prison, on the outskirts of Damascus.

The UK-based Amnesty International said that an average of 300 people were dying in Syrian prisons each month. They spoke to former prisoners who said the abuse would often start from the day they entered prison with so-called “welcome parties” that involved beatings with silicone or metal rods.

“They beat me until I was lying on the ground and then they kicked me ... until I passed out,” Umm Omar, who was held at a jail in the city of Aleppo, said.

“When I woke up ... my trousers had been opened and moved down a bit, my abaya [full length robe] was open and my undershirt was moved up. Everything was hurting.”

The catalogue of horror stories featured in this report depicts in gruesome detail the dreadful abuse detainees routinely suffer from the moment of their arrest,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 12:05 - GMT 09:05