Amnesty Intl Report on Mass Hangings in Horrific Saydnaya Prison, Syria

The charges and the criticisms

Feb. 11. There has been fair coverage in the corporate media of the Amnesty International report "Human Slaughterhouse". Amnesty's press statement starts, "A chilling new report by Amnesty International exposes the Syrian government's calculated campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya Prison. Between 2011 and 2015, every week and often twice a week, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death. In five years, as many as 13,000 people, most of them civilians believed to be opposed to the government, were hanged in secret at Saydnaya."

Democracy Now! interviewed Nicolette Waldman, report co-author, for about 15 minutes this week.

Here are our tweets @strugglevideo

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Bashar Assad denied the report completely, saying things were "photoshopped", giving no details about the prison, and not offering to allow Amnesty or any objective party to go to the prison. Here's Amnesty's brief response.

Looking for criticism of the report one finds As'ad AbuKhalil who quotes at length a former Assad prisoner named Nizar Nayouf. He has many criticisms, including a claim that prisoners couldn't physically be intimidated into raping other prisoners (as was mentioned in the report). Nayouf however is problematic. He was in prison in the '90's in Syria so its not clear if anything he is saying now is about current conditions. More imporantly, about three years ago Nizar Nayouf was the first source for the (absurd) claim that the reason the U.S. found no WMD in Iraq was that Saddam had shipped them secretly to his (arch-enemy) Assad.

Anyway Nayouf ends by saying "What the report says about the kinds of mistreatment and torture and criminality is generally true. The world has not seen more savage prisons than the 18 prisons of the Iraqi (Saddamist) and Syrian prisons since the times of Nazism and Fascism in WWII." So even he compares Assad prisons to Nazi prisons.

A couple days later AbuKhalil printed criticism by a man who said he wouldn't read the Amnesty Report because Amnesty had falsely re-reported a claim that Saddam's forces had thrown babies about incubators in Kuwait. Amnesty was really wrong in reposting that, but hey, that was in 1991!

And then we have a man named Cartalucci on the conspiracist Global Research site (9/11 denial, etc.) who disses the report because it uses audio-visual techniques to demonstrate things that can't be seen because Assad's forces allow no visitors and no pictures. He compares it to a movie on space aliens. He doesn't talk about Amnesty's detailed charges. Amnesty based its report on 84 interviews, most of them face to face, with people familiar with Sednaya, either as victims or collaborators (guards, judges, etc.)

Surely other "anti-imperialists" dedicated to Assad will come up with other criticism or create a blizzard of attacks on Amnesty to divert attention. Rather than answer all the garbage accusations, challenge the Assadists to call for a panel of jurists and human rights workers experienced in prison work who be given lengthy access to Saydnaya to give an impartial truthful report.

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