Over 1,790 Palestinian refugees have been secretly held in Syrian government dungeons since the outburst of deadly hostilities. (File photo/Anadolu Agency)
A female ex-prisoner has provided a harrowing account of torture in Syrian regime prisons as she still harbors vivid memories of her ordeal, according to human rights sources.
Speaking with the London-based Action Group of Palestinians of Syria (AGPS) on condition of anonymity, the Palestinian refugee woman said she was tortured by a man called “Azrael” (meaning the angel of death) for one month.
She said her two brothers were arrested in 2018 after Syrian security forces recaptured Yarmouk Camp. Both of them were tortured to death shortly after they reached a compromise with the Syrian regime.
The ex-prisoner said she was arrested over allegations of affiliations with armed opposition groups in Yarmouk Camp prior to the government’s recapture of the area. She was heavily beaten and harshly tortured at the Palestine security branch. The so-called “Azrael” insulted her before he sexually abused her for one month.
The refugee was later transferred to the Sednaya military prison, widely known as Syria’s “human slaughterhouse”, in reference to the mass hangings and extermination of thousands of prisoners.
“Following months of torture, I was released by wardens who said my detention was a mistake and threatened to kill me if I reveal the horrors of my experience in prison”, she added.
In 2019, the Association of Detainees and the Missing in Sednaya Prison (ADMSP) stated in its first report, entitled “Sednaya Prison: Factory of death and enforced disappearance in Syria”, that inmates have been tortured to death in the highly-secretive penal complex.
The report monitored the procedures and consequences of detention in Sednaya Prison in Syria, which the Assad regime continues to use as a main centre for the detention and enforced disappearance of political detainees, denying them any contact with the outside world and subjecting them to poor conditions that often lead to death.
The report stated that the Syrian regime itself is unable to issue accurate lists of the numbers of detainees due to the numerous victims of extrajudicial executions, torture, starvation, deprivation, and medical neglect.The report also
The ADMSP identified 24 types of psychological torture which included mock executions, being forced to watch other inmates being tortured, and threats against prisoners' families.
Every former prisoner interviewed reported to have been beaten with sticks of batons in Sednaya, with 20 forms of torture identified, often resulting in the death of the inmates.
Almost all reported being whipped or beaten while trapped inside a tire, with other forms of torture including being suspended from the arms, electrocution, and the "German chair", which sees inmates tied around a chair with pressure applied.
Sexual abuse has also significantly increased under the Assad regime, with around a third of detainees admitted to have suffered from this form of torture at Sednaya.
Few inmates expect to emerge from Syria's Sednaya prison alive, a place where routine torture and inhumane living conditions are, obviously, all designed to break the hope and dignity of prisoners, according to human rights groups.
Over 1,790 Palestinian refugees have been secretly held in Syrian government dungeons since the outburst of deadly hostilities.
AGPS also documented the death of over 600 Palestinian refugees under torture in Syrian government lock-ups, including women, children, and elderly civilians.
Affidavits by ex-detainees have provided evidence on the involvement of Syrian government officers in harsh torture tactics, including electric shocks, heavy beating using whips and iron sticks, and sexual abuse against Palestinian detainees, in a flagrant violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT).
Human rights watchdog estimates the real number to be far higher due to the gag orders slapped by the Syrian government on the detainees’ names and fates, along with the families’ reluctance to report such cases over retaliation concerns.