Joint statment: Fears of the life-threatening situation in As-Suwayda prison

The international community must meet its responsibilities and investigate the current events in As-Suwayda Central Prison

As-Suwayda prison

The Central Prison of As-Suwayda (an official civil detention facility) has witnessed a protest against the mistreatment of the prison administration to the inmates on Thursday 4 August. Around 1280 inmates are held in As-Suwayda Prison, 743 of whom are detained for cases related to expression and participation in the civil popular movement in the country. Detainees are from the different Syrian provinces.
The protest of detainees in As-Suwayda prison was preceded by unjust death sentences that were issued by the military field court against at least seven detainees in As-Suwayda prison. The issued rulings created to a state of anxiety and fear amongst the detainees, amid complete lack of fair and independent judiciary in the Syrian Judiciary system.

On Thursday, 4 August, a verbal dispute erupted between the detainees and the prison officers and personnel following a search campaign of the dormitories by the prison personnel and officers who verbally abused the detainees. That incident led to a fist fight between the detainees on one side and the prison officers and personnel on the other. The fight led the prison personnel and officers to leave the detention area. Calm was restored in the prison after interference of the warden and the head of the political security branch who calm the enraged detainees down promising them that such mistreatment will not happen again. However, detainees’ disobedience inside the prison continued.

On Friday 5 August, detainees were taken by surprise when government forces started shooting and throwing tear gas bombs at random towards the prison buildings. The building then was stormed by the anti-riot police amid direct fire at the detainees. As a result, at least two detainees were killed and 27 others were injured, some with serious injuries. Detainees were surrounded in one of the prison towers. The situation developed following the excessive use of force and direct shooting at the unarmed detainees. A number of notables and Sheikhs of As-Suwayda tried to mediate to solve the problem. So the Syrian regime halted storming the prison and asked the detainees to bring the wounded out to receive medical treatment at hospitals and for the rest of detainees to return to their dormitories. Yet, the threat for detainees to forcibly disappear or to be tortured remains an issue.
Until the moment of issuing this statement, the regime has refused to disclose the fate of the wounded who were supposedly transported by regime forces to receive medical treatment under vague circumstances and amid fears of depriving them of medical treatment or putting them under torture and interrogation.

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