From Minority Rule, Repression and Dictatorship Towards Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy
The Syrian Human Rights Network today issued a report marking the eighth anniversary of the start of the popular uprising for democracy in March 2011, which reviewed the results of the most prominent human rights violations committed by the main parties to the conflict in Syria.
The report entitled ” From Minority Rule, Repression and Dictatorship Towards Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy” states that for eight years, Syrian citizens have suffered from a vast and terrible range of violations of a staggering magnitude, which have reached the level of crimes against humanity, including lethal torture, rape of men and women, and death by barrel bombs, Scud missiles and chemical weapons. The report notes that a primary factor further exacerbating the people’s suffering and thwarting their struggle for freedom and democracy has been the international community’s status as a passive, silent spectator, which has given the ruling Syrian regime a green light to do whatever it wishes to the Syrian people, degrading them and treating them as if their lives were less valuable than those of slaves.
The 13-page report notes that despite the magnitude of the great challenges and the entry of extremist Shiite and Sunni Islamist terrorist organizations into the popular uprising, as well as the intervention of external forces directly led by Iran and Russia, the crux of the problem remains the conflict between a society wanting freedom and the tyrannical oppressive hereditary dictatorship of the ruling family, which has also been the compass in the eyes of most of those involved in the struggle for freedom who want to advance Syria from a feudal system of factional, minority hereditary dictatorship to a modern, democratic, pluralistic state under a fairly elected government representing the Syrian society and people.
The report strongly condemns the rush by some countries to normalize relations with the Syrian regime, deeming this to be a form of complicity in the violations against the Syrian people, which sends a clear message in Syria and globally against the values of dignity and democracy, and in favor of the establishment of a state of hatred and instability that will extend over decades.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, the Chairman of the SNHR, adds:
“Defending the rights of the Syrian citizen, especially the right to elect and change those who govern them, and to live under a government that respects the principles of human rights and preserves their freedom and dignity, is a moral and human duty, which all peoples of the world should support and help the Syrians for a civilized advancement of their nation to reach a fair pluralistic democratic state, and [failure to support this] exposes anyone who supports repression, autocracy and the use of chemical weapons. ”
The report reviews the record of the most prominent violations carries out by the main perpetrator parties to the conflict in Syria from March 2011 until March 2019.
The report notes that 223,161 civilians, including 28,486 children and 15,425 women (adult female), were killed since March 2011, with 92 percent of this total killed at the hands of the Syrian-Russian alliance, adding that the disproportionately high percentage of the death toll among children and women, who comprise 18 percent of all victims, is another indicator that the Syrian-Russian alliance is deliberately targeting civilians.
The report further notes that at least 127,916 individuals have been and are still detained or forcibly disappeared in the official and unofficial detention centers of the Syrian regime from March 2011 until March 2019.
According to the report, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have also carried out arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances in areas under their control, with at least 2,705 individuals still detained in the prisons of the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been abducted since the group’s establishment up to March 2019.
The report also notes that ISIS arrested at least 8,143 individuals since its establishment until March 2019, while Hay’at Tahrir al Sham arrested at least 1,724 individuals until March 2019.
The report also notes that factions of the Armed Opposition carried out arrests against civilians after storming areas controlled by Syrian Regime forces, and that, according to the SNHR’s database, 2,688 individuals are still being arbitrarily detained in the prisons of factions of the Armed Opposition until March 2019.
The report explains that Syrian Regime forces have used various types and methods of torture against all detainees in its official and unofficial detention centers, noting that 13,983 individuals have been documented as dying due to torture in the Syrian regime’s prisons from March 2011 until March 2019.
The report also includes the toll of victims who due to torture in the prisons of the Extremist Islamist groups, which totals 53 individuals, including 21 killed at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham and 32 at the hands of ISIS, while 43 individuals died due to torture at the hands of Armed Opposition factions until March 2019, as well as at least 38 individuals who died due to tortured by Syrian Democratic Forces until March 2019.
The report further notes that Syrian Regime forces have pursued a policy of imposing siege on areas under the control of factions of the Armed Opposition, and prevented the access of food and medicine, resulting in the deaths of 921 civilians, including 398 children and 187 women (adult female) since March 2011, adding that ISIS used the same methods against the neighborhoods of al Joura and al Qosour in Deir Ez-Zour city, as well as in al Yarmouk Camp south of Damascus. The report notes that siege in many areas has ended as a result of the Syrian regime taking control of the areas after displacing the residents and evacuating them to areas in north Syria, with al Rukban Camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border still being subjected to starvation siege by the Syrian regime as one of the most important reasons of the siege of the camp.
The report notes that SNHR has documented 221 attacks using chemical weapons in Syria since these were first used in December 2012, up to March 2019. 216 of these chemical attacks were carried out by the Syrian regime, resulting in the deaths of 1,461 individuals, while ISIS carried out the remaining five attacks.
The report reveals that cluster munitions have been used in Syria in at least 441 attacks since March 2011, including 201 attacks at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, 232 attacks at the hands of Russian forces, and eight Syrian / Russian attacks, noting that the Syrian regime air force has dropped approximately 77,146 barrel bombs between the first documented use of these munitions on July 18, 2012 and March 2019.
The report states that 149 attacks using incendiary weapons recorded were carried out on civilian residential areas, 125 of which were carried out by Russian forces, 19 by Syrian Regime forces, and five by International Coalition forces, with all of these attacks inflicted against residential neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, as the report reaffirms, Syria has seen massive waves of displacements, especially in 2017 and 2018, as a result of military operations launched by parties to the conflict or as the result of truces and agreements imposed on besieged cities and towns, whose content violates international humanitarian law, noting that approximately 14.2 million people have been forcibly displaced since March 2011, of whom eight million have been displaced inside Syria, and nearly 6.2 million outside Syria.
The report stresses that all the parties to the conflict in Syria have violated international humanitarian law and relevant Security Council resolutions, with the Syrian Regime being by far the largest offender in every category. Most of the attacks and incidents of violations carried out by the parties to the conflict primarily targeted civilian individuals, as well as a large proportion of these incidents have caused civilian casualties, injuries or damage to civilian objects, many of which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The report recommends that the members of the Security Council stop using their vetos to protect the Syrian regime, which has committed hundreds of thousands of violations over the past eight years, many of which constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. Furthermore, the report recommends that the Syrian dossier must be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those involved should be held accountable, in order to ensure peace, security and the implementation of the principle of responsibility to protect civilians, and to save the lives, heritage and arts of Syrians from destruction, looting and vandalism.
The report also calls on the international community to launch an immediate intervention to protect civilians, to put real pressure on Russia and Iran, and to consider the leadership of both states as key partners in the violations committed in Syria due to both continuing to supply the Syrian regime with weapons, and to their direct involvement in thousands of violations.
The report concludes by calling on the parties to the conflict to comply with the rules of customary humanitarian law and Security Council resolutions, to ensure that civilians are protected and treated as neutral, to release detainees and hostages, to end all torture, to reveal the fate of the disappeared and missing persons, and to lift all sieges.