13,000 people hanged at Syrian prison Saydnaya: Amnesty

Amnesty's report lifts the lid on abuses at Saydnaya © Cesare Davolio

A new report from Amnesty International exposes the Syrian government’s systematic campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya Prison.

According to the report, 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 executed by way of hanging. 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, the report found.

The figure is based on a year-long investigation, including interviews with 84 witnesses including security guards, detainees, judges and lawyers, Amnesty says.

“The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population,” Lynn Maalouf, the deputy director for research at Amnesty’s Beirut office, said in a statement announcing the report.

Maalouf also said that Amnesty International has demanded that the Syrian authorities immediately cease extrajudicial executions and torture and inhumane treatment at Saydnaya Prison and in all other government prisons across Syria. “Russia and Iran, the government’s closest allies, must press for an end to these murderous detention policies,” Maalouf also added.

In light of its findings, Amnesty is calling on the United Nations to “immediately carry out an independent investigation into the crimes being committed at Saydnaya and demand access for independent monitors to all places of detention.”

Amnesty International also stated that the upcoming Syria ‘peace talks’ in Geneva should not ignore these findings.

The UN estimates that about 400,000 people have been killed since the start of the war and another 4.8 million have fled the country.