You have heard the stories on the news — Syrian cities are being besieged, and civilians are dying in droves at the hands of their own government. Just today, a U.S. journalist and a French photographer were killed while covering the violence in Homs. I want you to know that Amnesty International is on the Syrian border, collecting stories for the world to hear.
Amnesty’s Syria campaigner Maha talked with a group of women from the village of Tasil, including a young mother:
“One day before we left Tasil I was looking out from the window and saw security forces chasing a man in the farms near the village. They were shooting at him and I thought no doubt they would kill him. When I looked closely I realized that that man was actually my husband. Thank God he managed to escape.”
Maha heard that 8 deaths occurred in Tasil in one week — including a woman shot and killed while putting her laundry out on the roof.
Those arrested in Syria face unspeakable torture.
Neil, an Amnesty researcher, spoke with individuals from the city of Dera’a. Dozens have been killed in the last week, their homes looted.
Neil is hearing accounts of torture unlike anything he has seen in 9 years working on Syria at Amnesty International. A refugee named Abu Suhaib tells Neil what he’s truly scared of, “I’ve seen many beside me be shot and killed but I’m not afraid of dying. What I fear is being arrested.”
Neil talked to Jihad, a 34-year-old clothes shop worker arrested last December. Like others, he was subjected to extremely cramped conditions, electrocuted several times, and sometimes violently beaten. Also, like many, he had his religious beliefs denigrated by the security guards.
After refusing to recognize Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as his god, Jihad was kicked down two flights of stairs. Jihad unwrapped the bandage around his left hand and told Neil what happened next. “He then ordered that I be restrained in the crucifix position, and have a piece of dynamite the size of a pen tied to my left palm. ‘Boom’, it exploded and half my hand blew off. Blood flowed everywhere.”
Jihad was taken to a hospital from where he was able to escape and later find his way to Jordan. After he fled, the security forces gave his family a document stating that if captured he will be executed.
Neil and Maha continue to uncover accounts of violence and torture. How much blood do the people have to shed before the world helps?
Amnesty International is campaigning for governments to take action individually and through the United Nations to protect Syrians from their government’s brutality. We need your help.
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA