Dr Haytham Alhamwi was among the panellists on the seminar ‘Plight of Detainees in Assad's Jails’ held on Tuesday 18th of September 2018 at SOAS University of London. The event was organised by Syria Solidarity Campaign and SOAS Syria Society. Haytham Talked about the story of the people of his hometown, Daraya, in Assad’s jails many of whom were tortured to death or extrajudicially executed in those jails.
The other panellists; Toby Cadman, Clive Baldwin and Sema Nassar discussed how the detention of civilians by the Assad regime represents one of the most serious and underreported war crimes committed by the Syrian Government.
The Violations Documentation Centre has 8,497 cases of civilian detainees in its database who have died under torture and/or have been executed – almost all of them by the Syrian regime. In 2016, Amnesty International, in a special investigation of ONE Syrian regime prison, reported that as many as 13,000 detainees were secretly executed between 2011 and 2015 at Saydnaya Prison. In 2014, a military photographer smuggled out tens of thousands of photos of detainee corpses. In these photos, Human Rights Watch reported that 6,786 were detainees who died under detention. Most detainees are secretly held, and some secretly executed. In recent months, however, the Syrian regime has been updating civil records with the deaths of those who died under torture or execution.
Will the regime face any legal consequences for these illegal detentions and executions? Will all the files of missing persons be closed, and if so, how many will be recorded as dying under detention? How will the detainees who have survived fare? all of these questions were discussed in that informative event.