Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Assad's Day of the Rope

As most readers know, Amnesty International issued a report which claimed that Assad has hanged 13,000 Syrians at a Damascus jail since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.

The Amnesty report said an average of 20-50 people were hanged each week at the Sednaya military prison north of Damascus. Between 5,000 and 13,000 people were executed at Sednaya in the four years after a popular uprising descended into civil war, it said.

"The victims are overwhelmingly civilians who are thought to oppose the government," the report said.

"Many other detainees at Sednaya Military Prison have been killed after being repeatedly tortured and systematically deprived of food, water, medicine and medical care."

There seems to be some substantial evidence for it:

The executions were carried out secretly and those killed were buried in mass graves outside the capital, with families not informed of their fate, it said.

The report was based on interviews with 84 witnesses including former guards and officials, detainees, judges and lawyers, as well as experts.

It followed a report issued a year ago by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, whose war crimes investigators said they had documented a high number of deaths in Sednaya military prison.

"Amnesty's findings are almost completely in-line with our 'Death in Detention' paper," Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. panel, told Reuters.

"We mentioned the executions in Sednaya and have extensive details on the systematic details of the regular ceremonies they have to conduct hangings in front of an audience of public officials. It is one of the clearest instances of a systematic practice that we had and based some of the key findings upon."

Assad has become a practioner of Nuremberg-style trials - and executions:

The prisoners, who included former military personnel suspected of disloyalty and people involved in unrest, underwent sham trials before military courts and were sometimes forced to make confessions under torture, Amnesty said.

The executions were carried out secretly and those killed were buried in mass graves outside the capital, with families not informed of their fate, it said.

As Holocaust deniers, we should be prima facie wary of atrocity stories. But the problem with the Holocaust tales is that they nearly always contain an element of absurdity which undermines them. See, for instance, the massacre at the ravine in Babi Yar, when 80,000 Jews were massacred by firing squads and mobile gas chambers: the Germans disposed of all the bodies - every single one - on bonfires or in mobile bone-crushing machines. That seems scarcely credible to me. But the Amnesty report on Assad's mass executions seems perfectly credible: it may be false, for all I know, but it seems common-sensical, unlike the story of the Babi Yar massacre, and what's more, one can verify its claims through forensics. The Assad regime, if it wanted to disprove the report, could easily open its Sedanya jail - and the mass graves nearby - to inspection.

Assad has become the worst mass murderer the Arab world has ever seen - at least in recent times. Yet many on the Far Left and Right support him. Some of them, no doubt, would justify the killings - they are what I call the 'tough nuts'. Their stock response will be: those people deserved to die, they were 'Terrorists', 'Zionists', 'Muslims', 'Islamists', [insert x here]... But if Israel had hanged 13,000 Palestinian 'terrorists', the Americans 13,000 Iraquis or Afghanis: you would hear a terrible outcry from the same tough nuts; Arab and Muslim life suddenly becomes sacrosanct. The strange thing is that the tough nuts abominate ISIS for killing and torturing so many Arabs and Muslims; but the evidence will show - after this war is over - that Assad has killed and tortured many, many more Arabs and Muslims than ISIS and is worse than ISIS in that regard.

Those on the Far Right who have invested in Assad, and invested heavily, have made a terrible mistake. To support the worst Arab mass murderer of perhaps all time has proven to be, to put it euphemistically, 'bad optics'. The Assadists will find themselves in the same position as those communist groups which, in the late seventies, supported Pol Pot and the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea: the crimes of their hero will return to haunt them.

1 comment:

  1. This allegation is pure speculation. Amnesty International called some guy in Syria who provided 30 names of "victims" and it's only true if you believe in it. Certainly, it is possible that killings took place, but there is no proof at all. Where are the graves? Where are the human remains? In my opinion it's a fantasy.