Published on June 22, 2015
First UN report on children in Syria’s civil war paints picture of ‘unspeakable’ horrors
4 February 2014 – Syrian children have been subjected to “unspeakable” suffering in the nearly three years of civil war, with the Government and allied militia responsible for countless killings, maiming and torture, and the opposition for recruiting youngsters for combat and using terror tactics in civilian areas, according to the first United Nations report on the issue.
“Violations must come to an end now,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in the report, which was released yesterday to the Security Council. “I therefore urge all parties to the conflict to take, without delay, all measures to protect and uphold the rights of all children in Syria.”
The report, covering the period from 1 March 2011 to 15 November 2013, lists a raft of horrors that Syria’s children have suffered since the opposition first sought to oust President Bashar al-Assad, ranging from direct commission of abuse, including sexual violence, to more general violation of their rights from school closures and denial of access to humanitarian aid.
“The present report highlights that use of weaponry and military tactics that are disproportionate and indiscriminate by Government forces and associated militias has resulted in countless killings and the maiming of children, and has obstructed children’s access to education and health services,” Mr. Ban writes.
Government forces have also been responsible for the arrest, arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of children. Armed opposition groups have been responsible for the recruitment and use of children both in combat and support roles, as well as for conducting military operations, including using terror tactics, in civilian-populated areas, leading to civilian casualties, including children.”
The report spotlights the disappearance of many children, notes that all parties to the conflict have seriously hampered the delivery of humanitarian assistance in areas most affected by the fighting, and warns that children have experienced a high level of distress as a result of witnessing the killing and injuring of members of their families and peers, or of being separated from their family and/or displaced.
Detailing the detention of children as young as 11 years old for alleged association with armed groups by Government forces in large-scale arrest campaigns, the reports says they were ill-treated and tortured to extract confessions or humiliate them or pressure a relative to surrender or confess.
“Ill treatment and acts tantamount to torture reportedly included beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons; electric shock, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails; sexual violence, including rape or threats of rape; mock executions; cigarette burns; sleep deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to the torture of relatives,” the report says.
“Reports indicate that children were also suspended from walls or ceilings by their wrists or other limbs, were forced to put their head, neck and legs through a tire while being beaten, and were tied to a board and beaten.
The report cites a 16-year-old boy as saying he witnessed his 14-year-old male friend being sexually assaulted and then killed, and notes other allegations that boys and in a few instances girls were raped. The 16-year-old said children and adults were beaten with metal bars, their fingernails pulled out, their fingers cut. “Or they were beaten with a hammer in the back, sometimes until death,” he added.
Allegations of sexual violence by opposition groups were also received, but the UN was unable to further investigate them due to lack of access, the report says.
It adds that opposition forces recruited and used both in support roles and for combat, while Government forces used children as human shields. It notes that during the first two years of the conflict, most killings and maiming of children were attributed to Government forces, but mainly due to increased access to heavy weapons and the use of terror tactics opposition groups increasingly engaged in such acts in 2013.
“Armed opposition groups also engaged in the summary execution of children,” it says, reporting that lack of access, including for security reasons, prevented the UN from systematic documentation.
Schools and hospitals have been disproportionally targeted by all parties, with indications that Government forces were the main perpetrators of attacks against hospitals and other health-care infrastructure, mainly opposition-run makeshift health facilities and of threats and attacks against medical personnel, according to the report.
“Injured opposition fighters and civilians, including children, admitted to Government hospitals in perceived pro-opposition areas in Aleppo, Dar’a, Homs and Idlib governorates were reportedly exposed to arrest, detention, ill treatment and acts tantamount to torture by civilian doctors, and/or elements of Government forces,” it says.
The UN also received reports on instances where opposition groups denied medical treatment to injured pro-Government fighters, or misused ambulances, including to cross Government checkpoints.
In his list of recommendations, Mr. Ban calls on all sides to stop all grave violations against children cited in the report, end all indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilian areas, including terror tactics, airstrikes, chemical weapons and heavy artillery, allow unimpeded humanitarian access, and immediately release abducted women and children.
SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON MASS ATROCITIES IN SYRIA
Feb 12, 2014
Syria Assad regime torture center
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding mass atrocities perpetrated by the Assad regime against the people of Syria:
“Mr. President, I rise today to appeal to the conscience of my colleagues and my fellow citizens about the mass atrocities that the Assad regime is perpetrating in Syria. When the images and horrors of this conflict occasionally show up on our television screens, the impulse of many Americans is to change the channel. But we must not look away. We must not avert our eyes from the suffering of the Syrian people, for if we do, we ignore, we sacrifice that which is most precious in ourselves – our ability to empathize with the suffering of others, to share it, to acknowledge through our own sense of revulsion that what is happening in Syria today is a stain on our the collective conscience of moral peoples everywhere.
“I appeal to my colleagues today not to look away from the images I will show you. And I want to warn all who are watching: These are graphic and disturbing pictures. But they are the real face of war and human suffering in Syria today – a war that our nation has the power to help end, but which we are failing to do.
“These images are drawn from a cache of more than 55,000 photographs that were taken between March 2011 and August 2013 by a Syrian military policeman, whose job it was to document the horrors that the Assad regime committed against political prisoners in its jails. This individual eventually defected to the opposition along with his photographs, which were meticulously reviewed and verified by three renowned international war crimes prosecutors and a team of independent forensic experts. They compiled their findings in a report late last month that provides direct evidence that the Assad regime was responsible for the systematic abuse, torture, starvation, and killing of approximately 11,000 detainees in what amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity. These are just a few of those pictures, and far from the most disturbing.
“I urge every member of Congress and the American public to read the full report, which can be found on the websites of CNN and The Guardian. Although only a handful of these gruesome images have been released publicly, the authors have provided their own startling commentary on what they reveal:
“David Crane, the first chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the man responsible for indicting former Liberian President Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity, stated that many of the photographs show groupings of bodies in ways that, quote, ‘looked like a slaughterhouse.’ Crane characterized the Syrian government as a ‘callous, industrial machine grinding its citizens’ that is guilty of ‘industrial-age mass killing.’
“Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice, lead prosecutor in the case against former Yugoslav President Milosevic at the Hague, reported that the systematic way the bodies were catalogued, and the effort given to obscure the true causes of death leads one to ‘reasonably infer that this is a pattern of behavior’ for Assad’s forces.
“But perhaps most chilling of all, Sir Desmond de Silva, who also served as a chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, stated that the emaciated bodies revealed in these pictures are ‘reminiscent of the pictures of those who were found still alive in the Nazi death camps after World War II.’
“Yesterday, in a hearing of the Committee on Armed Services, I asked the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, whether these photographs, which clearly depict ghastly crimes against humanity, are authentic. Director Clapper said he has, quote, ‘no reason to doubt’ their authenticity. The United Nations is now doing its own assessment of these images, and all of us should fully support that. It is important to have the broadest possible validation of these images, and I am confident the U.N. team will validate them. After all, does anyone seriously believe the Assad regime does not have the means, motive, and opportunity to murder 11,000 people in its prisons?
“Indeed, this kind of inhuman cruelty is a pattern of behavior with the Syrian government. According to a detailed U.N. report issued at the end of January, Assad’s forces have systematically, as part of their doctrine, used children as human shields and threatened to kill the children of opposition members if they did not surrender. The U.N. also detailed the arrest, detention, torture, and sexual abuse of thousands of children by government forces. I will spare you the remaining details, as they are unspeakable, but again I urge you to read the entire report which can be found on the United Nations’ website.
“I also recommend that my colleagues read of the war crimes that Human Rights Watch has been documenting. They have reported, for example, on how Syrian authorities have deliberately used explosives and bulldozers to demolish thousands of residential buildings, and in some cases entire neighborhoods, for no military reason whatsoever, just as a form of collective punishment of Syrian civilians.
“Human Rights Watch researchers have also documented the toll of the Syrian government’s airstrike campaign against Aleppo and Damascus, and in particular, the regime’s use over the past few months of what has become known as ‘barrel bombs.’ For my colleagues who are not aware of them, barrel bombs are oil drums or other large containers packed with explosives, fuel, shrapnel, glass, and all manner of crude lethal material. Their sole purpose is to maim, kill, and terrorize as many people as possible when they are indiscriminately dropped from Syrian government aircraft on schools, and bakeries, and mosques, and other civilian areas. In one stark video of a barrel bomb’s aftermath, a man stands in front of a child’s body and cries out, ‘Oh God, we’ve had enough. Please help us.’
“These are just some of the many reasons why our Director of National Intelligence referred to the Syria crisis yesterday as ‘an apocalyptic disaster.’ And with more than 130,000 people dead, after more than one-third of the Syrian population has been driven from their homes, no truer words were ever spoken. But this ‘apocalyptic disaster’ in Syria is no longer just a humanitarian tragedy for one country; it is a regional conflict and an emerging national security threat to us.
“The regime’s war crimes are being aided and abetted by thousands of Hezbollah fighters and Iranian agents on the ground, as well as Russian weaponry that continues to flow into the Assad government, even as Russia works with us to remove the Assad regime’s chemical weapons – a truly Orwellian situation.
“The conflict in Syria is devastating its neighbors. Lebanon is suffering from increased bombings and cross-border attacks by both the Syrian government and opposition fighters in response to Hezbollah’s role in the fighting. Unofficial estimates suggest that half of Lebanon’s population will soon be Syrian refugees. Similar estimates suggest that Syrian refugees now represent 15 percent of the population in Jordan, which is straining to manage the social instability this entails. Turkey has been destabilized. And perhaps most worrisome of all, the conflict in Syria is largely to blame for the resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has grown into the larger and more lethal Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which now possesses a safe haven that spans large portions of both countries. Nowhere is this more threatening, or more heartbreaking, than in Fallujah – the Iraqi city where hundreds of U.S. troops were killed and wounded fighting to rid of terrorists and extremists, but where the black flags of Al-Qaeda now hang above the city.
“The sanctuary that Al-Qaeda now enjoys thanks to the crisis in Syria increasingly poses a direct threat to U.S. national security, and that of our closest allies and partners. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Jeh Johnson, has said, quote: ‘Syria is now a matter of homeland security.’ The Director of National Intelligence has referred to the Al-Qaeda sanctuary in Syria and Iraq as ‘a new FATA’ – the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan where Al-Qaeda planned the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“Indeed, Director Clapper has warned that Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Syria now aspire to attack the homeland. If the September 11 attacks should have taught us anything, it is that global terrorists who occupy ungoverned spaces and seek to plot and plan attacks against us can pose a direct threat to our national security. That was Afghanistan on September 10, 2001. And that is what top officials in this administration are now warning us that Syria is becoming today.
“The conflict in Syria is a threat to our national interests, but it is more than that. It is, and should be, an affront to our conscience. Images like these should not just be a source of heartbreak and sympathy. They should be a call to action.
“It was not too long ago, just a few months after the revolution in Syria began, that President Obama issued his Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities. In it he stated: ‘Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.’ He went on to say: ‘Our security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.’
“Last year, speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the President said, ‘Too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale. And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.’
“And just last September, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama said this, and I would like to quote him at length: ‘[T]he principle of sovereignty,’ he said, ‘is at the center of our international order. But sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye. While we need to be modest in our belief that we can remedy every evil, while we need to be mindful that the world is full of unintended consequences, should we really accept the notion that the world is powerless in the face of a Rwanda, or Srebrenica? If that’s the world that people want to live in, they should say so, and reckon with the cold logic of mass graves.’
“That was our President, and I agree with every word of what he said. But how are we to reconcile these stirring words with the reality of these images from Syria? How are we to explain how the leader of the free world, who says that it is a moral obligation of the United States to do what we can to prevent the worst atrocities in our world, is not doing more to stop the atrocities that are occurring every single day in Syria?
“Where is that President Obama today? Where is the President Obama who has spoken so movingly of the moral responsibilities that great power confers? Where is President Obama who has said he refuses to accept that brutal tyrants can slaughter their people with impunity while the most powerful nation in the history of the world looks on and stands by? Where is the recognition that ‘the cold logic of mass graves’ is right there – right there in front of us, in Syria today?
“And yet our government is doing what we have sadly done too often in the past. We are averting our eyes. We try to comfort our guilty consciences by telling ourselves that we are not doing nothing, but it is a claim made in bad faith, for everyone concedes that nothing we are doing is equal to the horrors we face. We are telling ourselves that we are too tired or weary to get more involved – that Syria is not our problem, and that helping to resolve it is not our responsibility.
“We are telling ourselves that we have no good options, as if there are ever good options when it comes to foreign policy in the real world. We are telling ourselves that we might have been able to do something at one point, but that it is too late now – as if such words from the leaders of the world’s only global power will be any comfort to the Syrian mother who will lose her child tomorrow. We are telling ourselves what Neville Chamberlain once told himself about a different problem from hell in an earlier time – that it is ‘a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.’ Where is our outrage? Where is our shame?
“It is true that our options to help end the conflict in Syria were never good, and they certainly are worse and fewer now. But no one should believe that we are without options, even now. And no one should believe that doing something meaningful to help in Syria requires us to rerun the war in Iraq. That is an excuse for inaction. This is not a question of options or capabilities. It is a question of will.
“These images of the human disaster in Syria haunt me. And they should haunt all of my colleagues and all Americans. But what haunts me even more than the horror unfolding before our eyes in Syria is the thought that we will continue to do nothing meaningful about it, and how that deadens our national conscience, and how it calls into question the moral sources of our great power and the foundations our global leadership – and how, many years from now, an American president will stand before the world and the people of Syria, as previous presidents have done after previous inaction in the face of mass atrocities in faraway lands, and that president will say what all of us know to be true right now: that we could have done more to stop the suffering of others, we could have used the power we possess, limited though it may be, we could have exercised the options at our disposal, imperfect though they may be, and we could have done something, and it is to our everlasting embarrassment that we did not. And that future president will apologize for our current failure.
“Shame on us if we let history repeat itself that way.”
Syria children are paying the heaviest price!
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doing things for money is not a characteristic that’s unique to Syria. They are awarded when they ‘hit the correct targets”.
The Syrian crisis has been unique among the Arab Spring uprisings (and many other conflicts) in its deliberate targeting of children and the worst torture techniques are regularly used even on pre-teen children.
The question we all have to answer is why do we give him the freedom to implement this child-killing strategy?
War Child UK released, Syria: A War on Childhood, documenting how Assad’s forces take children from their parents, schools and communities and transfer these children to detention centers or military units for use as human shields. The children are brutally tortured, raped, and murdered. “Children and young people have been summarily massacred; illegally detained; sexual abused; used in combat; abducted and tortured; denied schooling and access to humanitarian aid; and deliberately targeted in violent attacks.”
Assad’s New Strategy: Nothing Makes People Flee Like Murdering Their Children
The most shocking thing was the deliberate killing of children
The Syria Assad Regime government is slaughtering his own people!
Adopted by the UN’s General Assembly on December 9, 1948, Article 2 of the Genocide Convention states, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group such as: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
Six respected organizations have documented evidence of Section (e) committed by Assad’s state military against its own child-civilian population. Syria qualifying as genocide under Section (e) distinguishes Assad’s regime from other modern mass atrocities, such as Bosnia or Rwanda. Children are often collateral damage but Assad’s deliberately targeting children makes Syria “disturbingly unique.”
Stop Syria Genocide, do something! We are witnessing Syria Genocide similar to Bosnia and Rwanda and the World remain silence!
#Syria #savesyria #savesyriaschildren #speakup4syrianchildren #savethechildren #ASSAD #AssadCrimes #AssadWarcrimes #AssadGenocide #AssadHolocaust #syria_crisis #syria_conflict #syriacivilwar #torture #syrian_torture #syrian_refugees #childrenofsyria #Damascus #Aleppo #homs #Idlib #hama #basharassad #UN #NO2VETO #humanrightsday #syrian_humanrights #FSA #syrie #TortureReport #Syrians #syriaregime
They kill our children to break our hearts
Syrian children as young as 2 years of age were victims of killing, maiming, abducted, arbitrary arrest, illegally detained, severe torture, sexual violance (anal rape by army officers or by objects), starvation, ill-treatment, summarily massacred, used in combat as human shield, denied schooling, medical aid, access to humanitarian aid, deliberately targeted in violent attacks (stabbed, burned, knifed, beheaded), chemical attack, aircraft barrel bombing…
Young men and teenagers boys old enough to fight for the rebels were dragged into the streets and shot by security forces. There were children being murdered by Shia militia with swords in their own home.
Read more articles:
Genocide in Syria
Syrian refugee families flee Assad’s war on children
Rape is use as weapon of war and as a tool of ethnic domination
Evidence is piling up that the Assad regime has used rape – of daughters in front of fathers, wives in front of husbands – as a targeted weapon to control, intimidation, and humiliation throughout the conflict.
Rape appears to be utilized during this conflict in horrifyingly soul-crushing, creative ways. Beyond simply raping detainees, Shabiha members or Syrian army soldiers have reportedly carried out the rapes of family members or other women in front of prisoners. Young boys were also assaulted while they were held in government detention.
The head of the Syrian League for Human Rights Abdel Karim Rihaoui has no doubt: “It is a political choice made to crush the people. Technique, sadism, perversity: Everything is meticulously organized.
A young girl from Hama, currently a refugee in the United States, who was at home with her three brothers when soldiers burst in and told the three men to rape their sister. The first refused; they decapitated him. The second refused; he suffered the same fate. The third accepted; they killed him on the girl, whom they then raped.
27-year-old mother of four, a graduate in management, was arrested at a checkpoint in the suburbs of Damascus. She spent 38 days in a detention center of the air force intelligence services, with around 100 other women.
“I’ve been through everything! I’ve been battered, flogged with steel cables, had cigarette butts in the neck, razor blades all over my body, electricity in my vagina. I’ve been raped while blindfolded every day by several men who stank of alcohol and obeyed their superior’s orders, who was always there. They shouted: “You wanted freedom? Well here it is!”
“The girls would generally be shot when everyone had finished,” the Syrian soldier said. “They wanted it to be known in the neighborhoods that the girls had been raped, but they didn’t want the girls to survive and be able to identify them later.”
“The security forces and the Shabiha took whole families outside after destroying their homes,” a woman named Amaltold the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat in June 2012. “They stripped my girls from their clothes, raped them then killed them with knives. They were shouting: ‘You want freedom? This is the best brand of freedom.’”
“I saw maybe 100 women stripped naked and used as human shields, forced to walk on all sides of the army tanks during the fighting. When their tanks rolled back into the Alawite neighbourhood, the women disappeared with them.”
A group of Syrian army soldiers had come to their house in Homs, tied up their father and brother, and raped the three women in front of them. The woman cried as she went on to describe how after raping them the soldiers opened their legs and burned their vaginas with cigarettes. They allegedly told the women during this: “You want freedom? This is your freedom.”
They put a bag on her head and led her to the basement of a detention center, where she was thrown into a pitch black cell full of rats. She spent two days in solitary confinement, with no food or water, before joining two other women in a tiny cell where she spent six months. “We couldn’t lie down. We weren’t allowed to wash ourselves, even during our periods. We were raped every day, as they chanted: “We Alawites will destroy you.” A single sign of protest and we had electric prods in the vagina or anus. They beat me so much that they broke my leg. It turned black. My family didn’t hear about me for six months. As I can’t read or write, I signed any confession with my index finger.” When she was released, her husband had disappeared with their car.
Confessions of an Assad ‘Shabiha’ loyalist: how I raped and killed for £300 a month
Syria’s Silent War Crime: Systematic Mass Rape
Syria rape crisis