Fear of Life-Threatening Situation in 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.

 

Due to the rapid development of the bloody events in As-Suwayda Central Prison and the regime's resort to cutting off all communications in an attempt to prevent leaking the violations perpetrated against the detainees there, we, the undersigned, demand the following:

 

1. An emergency visit to be paid by the International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate the death of unarmed detainees and reveal the fate of the wounded without waiting for the approval of the Syrian regime, to deprive the regime the chance to hide the evidence of its crimes.

 

2. Putting a pressure on the Syrian regime to disclose the names of the wounded detainees and the names of the personnel who fired at detainees, and providing assurances concerning the safety of the rest of detainees in As-Suwayda Central Prison.

 

3. In accordance with several UNSC resolutions concerning detainees in Syria, specifically resolutions 2041, 2042, 2139 and 2254, the Syrian regime shall be demanded to immediately stop using a humanitarian issue such as the issue of detainees as a negotiating card. In addition to that, prisoners of conscience must be released immediately.

 

4. We demand the ISSG, the office of Mr. Staffan De Mistura as well as all international human rights agencies to immediately interfere and put an international pressure on the Syrian regime to open an independent investigation on the events of As-Suwayda prison, insure the safety of inmates there, meet their rightful demands in putting an end to the unjust trials, and the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience.

 

Monday, 8 Aug, 2016

Signatories:

  • Syrian Center for Legal Researches and Studies

  • Democratic Republic Studies Center

  • Masar Center

  • al-Kawakbi Human Rights Organization

  • Syrian Network for Human Rights

  • Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression

  • Violations Documenting Center in Deir Ezzor

  • The Syrian Kurd Journalists Union

  • Syrian Activists for Monitoring

  • The Syrian Press Center

  • Justice for Detainees in Syria Organization

  • Syria Solidarity Organization

  • The Commission for Releasing Detainees

  • Syrian Commission for Detainees

  • Kawakbi Center for Human Rights

  • Free Syrian Lawyers Aggregation

  • Detainees Voice Organization 

  • Starting Point Organization

  • Syrian Women Network

  • BAHR Organization for Political Development

  • al-Amin Foundation

  • al-Ihsan Charity

  • Local Coordination Committees

  • Damascus Rose Team

  • Souriyana Organization - Austria

  • al-Maara Now Network

  • Lilit Organization

  • Syrian Family Care Organization - Turkey

  • Guardians of Human Rights

  • Save the Rest Campaign 

  • Syrian Media Center

  • Naba Media - Dara

  • Dara Media Center

  • Yakeen Media - Dara

  • Jasmine Institution - Jordan

  • Free Lawyers Syndicate - Dara

  • Asi Press Center

  • Hussam Ayash Center for Documentation in Dara

If you would like to join the statement:

 

please contact JDS at: justice4detainees@gmail.com

 

OR:

Please join JDS and other organizations in our call for clemency.

Thank you

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© 2015 Justice for Detainees in Syria