More than 14,000 people have been tortured to death in the war in Syria. There are at least 72 different methods of torture, according to a new report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR). The figure is likely to be much higher in reality as these figures reflect what the organisation has been able to record only.
Over eight years the SNHR interviewed thousands of former prisoners who survived being locked up and tortured mainly in the Air Intelligence, Military Intelligence, General Directorate of State Security and Political Security branches.
Among the methods used was the slicing off body parts or allowing junior doctors to practice surgical procedures on prisoners. The doctors were also encouraged to make errors.
Other methods of torture were throwing hot water on victims, burning them with chemical acids, whipping them on the feet, being bent through a tyre, pulling out fingernails using pliers and ripping out their eyeballs..
Detainees are denied access to medical treatment. To make them even more uncomfortable they are deprived of using the toilet or taking a shower. Prisoners are crammed into small, overcrowded spaces and deprived of food and water. A number of forms of sexual violence are carried out, including beating women so hard they lose their uterus.
SNHR said these torture patterns were widely practiced and there is hardly any survivor who wasn’t subject to them. By comparing survivors’ testimonies, with regime documents from the same period and photographs (smuggled out of Syria by the former regime photographer Caesar), SNHR notes that there is a pattern in the processes of torture used by Assad’s regime.
This “suggests that the orders for and training in these procedures are all issued from one central point and in close coordination and exchange of expertise to deliberately create a range of the most heinous and cruel methods of torture.”
The SNHR estimates that 1.2 million Syrian citizens have been arrested and detained at some point since the start of the uprising in March 2011. At least 130,000 are still detained or forcibly disappeared after being taken by the regime.