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The horrible truth of Sednaya Prison

Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, February 15

In its report on the Sednaya Military Prison in Syria published last week, Amnesty International estimated that “between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extra-judicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.” I have read the report very closely. There are no proper words in the Arabic language to describe the horrors of that place. Language can simply not describe the atrocities experienced by those who incarcerated in the compound: people sleeping on top of others who are suffocating to death, guards breaking the bones of those they are about to execute, and a systematic torturing of the inmates. These testimonies are not taken from a horror film or novel; they describe the systematic behavior of the Syrian regime against its political opponents. And so, the same story repeats itself: Western governments are now reacting to the report by expressing shock and disbelief with the testimonies. Ministries of Foreign Affairs are releasing condemnation messages full of denunciation and admonition. But does all of this matter? When we take a minute to think about it, we quickly realize that the regime responsible for these heinous crimes would not have remained in power had it not been for the consent of these very same Western governments. Their benevolent democratic regimes have been supporting Assad – first the father, and then the son – for decades on end. The Amnesty report from last week is only the tip of the iceberg. Way grosser violations of human rights occur on a daily basis throughout Syria. If those in the West aren’t familiar with the brutality experienced by Syrian civilians today, they don’t need to look far: it is enough to stare at their very own politicians; those who have been turning a blind eye to the human rights violations of the Syrian regime for several decades. – Yamen Dabki