“The entire country has become a torture-chamber; a place of savage horror and absolute injustice
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for tens of thousands of detainees to be released from regime prisons in Syria.
“Today in a sense the entire country has become a torture-chamber; a place of savage horror and absolute injustice,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told a UN Human Rights Council forum in Geneva. “Ensuring accountability, establishing the truth and providing reparations must happen if the Syrian people are ever to find reconciliation and peace.”
Hussein’s testimony came a day after a UN report setting out regime “war crimes”, including chemical attacks and the deliberate bombing of civilians, medical services and staff, and infrastructure.
Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry, referred to its finding that the scale of deaths in prisons indicated that the regime was responsible for “extermination as a crime against humanity”: “Too many voices have been silenced by enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, or death.”
Witness testimony and photographs, including those brought out of Syria by a military photographer in 2013, have established the abuse and deaths of thousands of detainees.
The regime did not attend Tuesday’s forum, while the Russian envoy called the event a “waste of valuable time”.
Former detainees also testified about their experiences and those of others. Noura Al-Ameer al-Jizawi said, “”Many….women are detained with their children, detained in places not even fit for animals, let alone fit for children,” she told the council.
Fadel Abdul Ghani, executive director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, explained that the regime holds 87% — 92,000 of the total of 106,000 — in detention.
Sednaya Prison, where thousands of detainees were killed between 2011 and 2015
State Media: 25+ Killed in Suicide Bombing in Damascus
Syrian State media, citing a police source, says at least 25 people have been killed and more injured in a suicide bombing in Damascus, the second in the capital within days.
The source said the suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the old Justice Palace building in the al-Hamidiyeh section of Damascus.
There was a second explosion in a restaurant in the al-Rabweh neighborhood, causing casualties, and a third explosive device was defused near the President’s Bridge.
On Saturday, more than 40 people were killed in a double suicide bombing in southern Damascus. Many of the victims were Iraqis, with varying reports on how many were pilgrims and how many were pro-Assad militiamen.
The jihadist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham claimed the blasts.
Footage from today’s scene at the Justice Palace:
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) March 15, 2017
The bombed restaurant: