The Bleeding Decade
(Link below to download full report)
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has released its tenth annual report for the year 2020, entitled: “The Bleeding Decade”. The report documents the most notable human rights violations at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria during the last year.
The 120-page report provides a record of the landmark key events that took place in Syria in 2020, and sheds light on the most prominent political, military and human rights events that occurred on the Syrian scene in 2020. The report, which stresses the direct responsibility of the state-ruling Syrian regime for committing violations, includes names of Syrian regime officials believed to be involved in committing these violations. The report also provides a record of the most notable human rights violations committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in 2020, as well as providing comparisons between the most notable patterns of violations SNHR documented in 2019 and 2020.
The report sheds light on the most prominent issues on which progress was made in the accountability process, also referring to the role of the Syrian Network for Human Rights in supporting this process. The report notes that the SNHR issued nearly 81 reports throughout 2020 concerning several types of the most significant human rights violations, containing nearly 263 first-person accounts from those injured in attacks and other survivors, paramedics, ‘central signal’ operators, and victims’ families, all of which were collected through speaking directly with eyewitnesses, rather than being cited from any open sources.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairman of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, says:
“This is our tenth annual report since the start of the popular uprising in March 2011, and for the tenth consecutive year, we are still documenting egregious violations, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. The international community and the Security Council have failed to mitigate the severity of the violations in any way or even to achieve the bare minimum of ending any of the crimes against humanity. The root cause of the Syrian issue remains the combination of factional, dynastic regime opposing a popular uprising demanding political change to lead the country towards a democratic system that respects human rights and the transfer of power, and prioritizes the wellbeing of the Syrian state and people.”
According to SNHR’s database, 1,734 civilians, including 326 children and 169 women (adult female), were documented as being killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in 2020. Of this total, 432 civilians, including 79 children and 29 women, were killed by Syrian Regime forces, and the Syrian regime committed 11 massacres. While 211 civilians, including 62 children and 48 women, were killed by Russian forces, and 11 massacres were committed by Russian forces. 2020 saw also the deaths of 21 civilians, including two children, at the hands of ISIS, while Hay’at Tahrir al Sham killed 26 civilians, including one woman.
The report also documents the deaths of 27 civilians, including nine children and four women, at the hands of the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army. The report also documents the deaths of 63 civilians, including 11 children and three women, at the hands of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, as they also committed one massacre in 2020, while US-led coalition forces killed seven civilians, including one child and one woman, and committed one massacre.
Lastly, the report records that 947 civilians, including 162 children and 83 women, were killed at the hands of other parties.
As the report reveals, 2020 saw approximately 1,882 cases of arbitrary arrests/ detentions, including 52 children and 39 women (adult female). Syrian Regime forces were responsible for the arbitrary arrest/ detention of 908 of these individuals, including 13 children and 23 women, while Hay’at Tahrir al Sham was responsible for 146 cases, including one child and four women, and 347 individuals, including six children and 11 women, were arbitrarily arrested/ detained at the hands of the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, while Syrian Democratic Forces arbitrarily arrested/ detained 481 individuals, including 32 children and one woman.
The report states that at least 157 individuals were documented as being killed under torture in 2020, including 130 individuals who died due to torture at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, while 14 died at the hands of Syrian Democratic Forces, three died at the hands of the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, one died at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, while nine others died due to torture at the hands of other parties.
The report also focuses on the most significant violations against medical personnel and media workers in 2020, revealing that the number of medical personnel killed was 13, three of whom were killed at the hands of Syrian Regime forces, four killed at the hands of Russian forces, one killed at the hands of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, and five others killed by other parties. In addition, the report reveals that five media workers were killed in Syria in 2020, two of whom were killed by Syrian Regime forces, two by Russian forces, and one by other parties.
As the report further reveals, at least 326 incidents of attacks on vital civilian facilities were committed by the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria in 2020, of which 165 by Syrian Regime forces, 83 incidents by Russian forces, while Hay’at Tahrir al Sham committed two incidents, and the Turkistan Islamic Party committed one incident.
The report also documents four incidents committed by Syrian Democratic Forces, two incidents by the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, and 69 incidents by other parties.
The report reveals that Syrian Regime forces carried out four cluster munition attacks in 2020, and at least 474 barrel bombs were dropped by the Syrian regime air force during the same period.
As the report details, the Syrian Network for Human Rights estimates that nearly 850,000 persons have been subjected to forced displacement in 2020, 90 percent of whom were displaced as a result of military operations launched by the Syrian-Russian alliance forces.
The report stresses that the UN Security Council should take additional steps following the adoption of Resolution 2254, which states unequivocally that all parties should: “… immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such…”, and should find ways and mechanisms to implement Security Council Resolutions 2041, 2042, 2139 and Article 12 of Resolution 2254 regarding detainees and forcibly disappeared persons in Syria.
The report further emphasizes that there should be no use of the UN veto in the case of any state involved in the conflict, with Russia, which is an active brutal participant in the Syrian conflict, repeatedly using its veto in its own and the Syrian regime’s favor, with the report stressing that there is a need to refer the Syrian issue from the Security Council to the United Nations General Assembly after nine years of failure on the part of the Security Council to protect civilians or to help in ending the Syrian conflict, as well as to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court and hold all those implicated in perpetrating crimes accountable.
The report calls on the Security Council to ensure the safety and security of millions of Syrian refugees, especially women and children, who have been displaced worldwide, and to ensure their safety from arrest, torture or enforced disappearance if they choose to return to areas controlled by the Syrian regime.
The report also calls on the Security Council to allocate a significant amount of money for clearing mines left over by the Syrian conflict from the United Nations Mine Action Service, particularly in areas prepared to carry out this task with transparency and integrity.
The report also presents a set of recommendations to the international community, to the OHCHR, and to the relevant United Nations agencies. Moreover, the report calls upon the UN Special Envoy to Syria to condemn the perpetrators of all these crimes and massacres and the main culprits in the collapse of agreements on de-escalation zones by name, and to re-sequence the peace process so that it can resume its natural course after Russia’s attempts to divert and distort it, empowering the Constitutional Committee prior to the establishment of a transitional governing body.
The report urges the international community to take steps at the national and regional levels to form alliances to support the Syrian people, to protect them from the daily killing, and to lift the siege, as well as to increase support for relief efforts.
The report recommends that the supporting states and European Union should support the judicial accountability process, including supporting the mandate of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to assist in the investigation and prosecution of individuals responsible for the most serious crimes under the classification of international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, under General Assembly Resolution 71/248, as well as supporting the path of litigation through universal jurisdiction.