TORTURE methods used on arrested Syrian protestors including being hung from manacled wrists from a door hook, being forced to watch family members being tortured and electric shocks via an electric charge to a wet floor, are revealed in a horrific new report.
Victims told of having salt forced into their mouths and being left in a cell with a detainee who had died from torture.
A new report by Amnesty International reveals the sickening extent of systematic government approved torture on the one-year-anniversary of the start of mass protests against President Bashar al-Assad.
It reveals a sickening catalogue of over 30 methods of torture used by security forces and pro-government armed gangs.
Noeleen Hartigan, programmes director of Amnesty International in Ireland, said: "The descriptions of torture in this report are the stuff of nightmares. They reveal a system of detention based on abuse, pain and terror.”
Amnesty International compiled the report having interviewed dozens of Syrian refugees who had fled over the border into Jordan before the recent sustained shelling of Homs.
The Amnesty International report shows an increase in the reported use of shabeh - where the victim is suspended, from a raised hook or door frame, or by manacled wrists, so that the feet just hang above the ground or so the tips of toes touch the floor. The individual is then beaten.
“I was left hanging over two or three days, for many hours at a time, sometimes from my raised wrists tied above my head. My mind and body were exhausted… If I asked what the time or date was, they beat me,” ‘Tareq’, described as a 27-year-old activist, testified.
Eighteen-year-old ‘Karim’, a student, told Amnesty International that his interrogators used pincers to remove flesh from his legs when he was being held at an Air Force Intelligence facility in Dera’a in December 2011.
Electric shock torture appears to be systematically used in interrogations. Former detainees described three methods: dousing the victim or cell floor with water, then electro-shocking the victim through the water; the “electric chair”, where electrodes are connected to parts of the body; and the use of electric prods.
‘Ghazi’, a 22-year-old decorator who was detained in July 2011 on his way to hospital, told Amnesty of his experience: “One day they opened the door, sprayed water at us and the floor from a hose. Then with some instrument he touched the floor and electricity rushed through us.”
Sexual violence has also allegedly been used gainst detainees. ‘Tareq’ told Amnesty International that during his interrogation at the Military Intelligence base in Damascus, in July last year he was forced to watch the rape of another prisoner ‘Khalid’:
"They pulled down his trousers. He had an injury on his upper left leg. Then the official raped him up against the wall. Khalid just cried during it, beating his head on the wall."
Another detainee “Abd al-Baset”, 41, an Information Technology worker told Amnesty:
“Each of us was taken out of the cell for one to two hours of beating at a time. We were forced to kneel, blindfolded, handcuffed behind, in a basement interrogation room, and kicked all over… There were six days of this.”
‘Thamer’ a human rights lawyer and activist describing the beatings he suffered: “I was beaten with cables, especially on my head, and told to kneel before a picture of Bashar al-Assad.”
‘Al-Shami’, a 40-year-old civil engineer : “I was beaten so much with fists, sticks, kicks. I lost consciousness. I lost sense of time. I came to in a tiny cell. I was in terrible pain, badly bleeding, with bad back pain.” The former detainee recalls: “Over time I came to hate this place. I thought of climbing up the walls and diving down to kill myself.”
“At my second interrogation I was kneeling, blindfolded. ‘Did you write everything [in your confession]?’ I was asked. I said, ‘Yes’...Then I felt my feet struck with a stick, for five minutes. I couldn’t believe they were doing this to me, I am a civil engineer, known in my community.”
Noeleen Hartigan said: "The International Criminal Court represents the best chance to ensure those responsible for the grave crimes that have been committed against the Syrian people face justice.
"Syrians responsible for torture – including those in command – should be left in no doubt that they will not escape punishment for crimes committed on their watch. It is therefore essential that the Commission of Inquiry is strengthened and allowed to continue its work."
Earlier this week images emerged of the bodies of of 26 children and 21 women lined up after what the opposition claim was a massacre by Assad’s forces.
Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist in the besieged central city of Homs, said: "Some of the children had been hit with blunt objects on their head, one little girl was mutilated and some women were raped before being killed."
State television blamed "armed terrorist gangs" for the killings, saying they had kidnapped residents of Homs, killed them and then made video footage of the bodies in an attempt to discredit Syrian forces.
According to the United Nations, over 8,000 people have been killed so far in Syria. The number of known reported deaths in custody is put by Amnesty at a conservation 276, however they advise the true figure to be higher.