People were obviously desparate to tell their stories in the hope that if the world knew what was really happening to them the world would do something. The one question that kept being repeated was: Why is the world standing by while we’re being literally slaughtered?
The words of Donatella Rovera, speaking to the BBC today, who has just returned from a covert trip inside Syria. In a report issued today, she further documents heinous crimes against humanity, that she describes as on such a scale and so systematic as to make it impossible for them to have been the action of a few rogue elements within the security services, instead deeming it a government endorsed policy of brutal repression aimed at punishing people for supporting the opposition and intimidating them into submission.
The cold systematic nature of the violence is harrowing, she says:
“Wherever I went, in every town, in every village, there was a very similar pattern.
“Soldiers who went in, in very large numbers, for very short but very brutal incursions where they extra-judicially executed young men, burned down their homes.
“Those who they arrested were then tortured in detention. And that was really repeated in every town and every village that I visited.”
You can read more about her findings in the Daily Mail, here, and you can watch a poignant video on the Guardian of her experience in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, where she observed uniformed security forces and plain clothes shabiha militia members firing live rounds against peaceful demonstrators, killing and injuring protesters and passers-by, including children and teenagers.
Since the outbreak of pro-reform protests in February 2011, Amnesty has received the names of more than 10,000 people who have been killed during the unrest, although the actual figure is known to be much higher still.
In one instance 18 members of the same family were killed. In another, a mother witnessed her three sons being taken out of their home, executed, and their bodies set alight.
The shocking escalation in unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention and the wanton destruction of homes in Syria as documented in the report, demonstrates just how urgent the need for decisive international action is.
So far, however, meaningful action has not been forthcoming. If you haven’t already done so, take action here.
Despite the pervasive and understandable fear of that people felt when telling their stories to Amnesty, they were insistent that the world had to hear about the horror. With detailed coverage of the report in newspapers, and on radios and televisions across the world that at least has been accomplished. We know what is happening now in the country, but the question remains, what will happen next.
You can read the report, Deadly Reprisals in full, here
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