Approximately a Year and a Half of Continued Investigations to Prove the Occurrence of the Sectarian Massacre of al Haswiya
SNHR said in a report released today that the Syrian regime has killed no less than 3,098 individuals, including 531 children, in massacre of a sectarian nature.
The report notes that talking about the existence of a coherent sectarian group with a hierarchy and allegiance is only possible to minimal extents, as the Syrian regime has been working on eroding all residential and tribal bases and communities in Syria for many years, where it has become significantly easier to recruit and employ the members of any sectarian group provided you have power and money. The report stresses that the Syrian regime has worked diligently on undermining any national vision that would serve as an umbrella for all sectarian groups under one unified state. Since the very first days of the popular uprising, the Syrian regime has worked on evoking and sustaining sectarian grudges in order to use them to further divide the Syrian people.
The report says that the first two years of the popular uprising saw the greatest portion of sectarian-cleansing massacres, which lasted until June 2013. The Syrian regime did not only recruit and compose Alawite-originated militias, but also recalled Iranian militias to fuel a Sunni-Alawite-Shiite conflict that takes the attention away from the primary conflict between a popular uprising and a family tyranny that established for years a rule of oppression and terrorism.
The report records that Syrian regime forces committed no less than 50 massacres of a sectarian nature from March 2011 to February 15, 2018. 3,098 individuals were killed in this report, divided into 3,028 civilians and 70 fighters from the armed opposition. Among the civilians were 531 children and 472 women (adult female).
According to the report, the most of these massacres took place in Homs governorate that saw 22 massacres, in which 1,040 individuals were killed, including 209 children and 200 women. Aleppo and Hama were second with eight massacres each, where 416 individuals, including 63 children and 34 women, were killed in Aleppo, while Hama’s massacres recorded the killing of 197 individuals, including 98 children and 75 women.
The report notes that investigations on al Haswiya massacre lasted for a year and a half, as accessing survivors or eyewitnesses proved to be an extraordinary challenge for SNHR team. The report draws upon ongoing monitoring for news and developments. The report contains six accounts from survivors and victims’ families.
The report says that Syrian regime forces, backed with local and foreign Shiite militias, raided al Haswiya village on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, between 07:00 and 07:30. These forces carried out wide search operations in conjunction with shooting indiscriminately and terrorizing and intimidating the residents. The attacking forces used live bullets, as well as cleavers and bayonets to kill residents, in addition to lootings properties, jewels, and cars. Additionally, they arrested most of the village’s males, where some of them were released later, while tens are still considered forcibly-disappeared.
The report has documented the killing of 108 civilians in al Haswiya village, including 25 children and 17 women (adult female). Among the victims were entire families from the houses of Ghaloul, al Sahou, and al Mahbani.
The report stresses that Syrian regime forces have violated many of the international humanitarian law rules, committing crimes that constitute war crimes – mainly through the crimes of extrajudicial killing, sexual violence, forced displacement, enforced-disappearance, collective punishment, and looting properties. All of these crimes were perpetrated in a systematic widespread manner. The crimes of extrajudicial killing, sexual violence, and torture are considered crimes against humanity according to Article 7 of Rome Statute.
The report notes that the customary international law states that that state is responsible for all the acts committed by the members of its security and military forces. Consequently, the state is responsible for the unlawful acts, including crimes against humanity, that have been perpetrated by the members of its military and security forces, adding that all Shiite militias are considered foreign parties that were actually involved in killings, and are responsible legally and judicially.
The report calls on the Security Council to take all possible steps in order to implement the resolution it adopted, most notably resolution 2139, and take action in order to put an end to the huge violations that are being practiced by the Syrian authorities and pro-regime Shiite militias.
The report also stresses that the Syrian case should be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those who were involved in crimes should be held accountable. Additionally, sanctions should be expanded to include the Syrian, Iranian, and Russian regimes who were directly involved in committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Syrian people.
Furthermore, the report calls on the Security Council to list the militias who are fighting on the side of the Syrian government and had perpetrated wide massacres, such as Iranian militias, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, other Shiite brigades, National Defense Army, and Shabiha on the list of terrorist groups.
Also, the report says that after committing crimes against humanity, the Syrian government shouldn’t be considered an “official party” anymore with respect to aid efforts. The Syrian government shouldn’t be the receiver of most of the financial and other forms of humanitarian aids, as those aids are being delivered to the supports of the Syrian government instead of those who are truly in-need.
Moreover, the report calls for action on the national and regional levels to form alliances in order to support the Syrian people. The report also calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” norm after all political channels through the Arab League agreement and then Mr. Kofi Annan’s plan have been consumed, as well as the Cessation of Hostilities and Astana agreements that followed. After all of this, action should be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.
Lastly, the report calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI), and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations into al Haswiya massacres and other massacres documented by SNHR.