There Are Fears That the Fate of the 87,000 People Forcibly Disappeared in Regime Prisons Will Be Similar to That of al Tadamun Neighborhood’s Detainees
Photo of Amjad Yousef, the main perpetrator of the mass killings in al Tadamun neighborhood in Damascus – April 2013
Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights reveals in its latest report released today that the Syrian regime is currently holding the criminal Amjad Yousef, who killed dozens of Syrians in addition to raping dozens of women, in al Tadamun neighborhood in Damascus, noting that there are fears that the fate of the 87,000 people forcibly disappeared in regime prisons will be similar to that of the detainees murdered in al Tadamun neighborhood.
The three-page report notes that the Syrian regime is now holding the criminal Amjad Yousef, one of the main regime officers responsible for the killings and rapes in al Tadamun neighborhood. At the end of April 2022, New Lines magazine published an investigation that proved that Yousef, an officer in the Syrian regime’s security forces, specifically the ‘227 Region Branch’ of the Military Intelligence Division, was among those responsible for the arrest/kidnapping of dozens of Syrians in the neighborhood, with 41 of those detained there taken to a pit dug for the purpose of serving as a mass grave, where they were thrown in and shot dead before their bodies were set alight. The investigators managed to persuade Amjad Yousef into confessing to this terrible crime.
As the report reveals, the Syrian regime is now retaining Amjad Yousef in custody; since the detention process was not carried out according to a judicial warrant based on a specific charge, he has not been referred to the judiciary, and the Syrian regime has not issued any information indicating his arrest.
The report raises concern over the fate of the 87,000 people documented as being forcibly disappeared in regime prisons, which may be similar to that suffered by the victims in al Tadamun neighborhood. In this context, the report reveals that the Syrian regime has detained, and continues to detain, at least 131,469 of the people arrested since March 2011, with 86,792 of this number classified as forcibly disappeared persons, including 1,738 children and 4,986 women (adult female). The report stresses that the Syrian regime had not announced the identity of those who were killed by Amjad Yousef and his partners or informed the victims’ families of their deaths, with these victims having been classified as forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime, although the investigation published by New Lines further confirmed that at least some of the forcibly disappeared are being liquidated in an unspeakably brutal manner with their bodies burned and buried in pits that serve as unmarked mass graves.
The report adds that the Syrian regime has systematically used enforced disappearance as one of its most prominent tools of repression and terrorism aimed at crushing and annihilating political opponents simply for expressing their opinion, harnessing the capabilities of the security services, which have tens of thousands of members, to hunt down those who participated in the popular uprising, and to arrest, torture and forcibly disappear them.
The report stresses that Amjad Yousef was involved with many Syrian regime bodies in carrying out these terrible crimes, and it seems that the regime fears that more of those involved will be exposed, and, for this end, may ‘disappear’ Amjad Yousef for life or kill him after he confessed his crimes, in order to thwart further investigation.
The report notes that the Syrian regime would not have detained Amjad Yousef if regime bodies had not been involved in this atrocity at the highest levels. The report further notes that the Syrian regime protects the perpetrators of violations, and in some cases promotes them, so that they’re aware that their own fate is always organically linked to the regime’s fate, and so that defending it becomes an essential part of defending themselves.
The report adds that Amjad Yousef and thousands of other members of the regime’s security services and army forces would not have committed such atrocious violations had they not been part of a deliberate policy implemented at the direct orders of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al Assad, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Armed Forces (army and security). Such large-scale violations need the coordination and cooperation of dozens of individuals and institutions, and while the Syrian regime must be aware of them, it has not only failed to institute any deterrence or accountability, but given the orders and facilitated their commission.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the fate of the forcibly disappeared persons in Syria and to act to end torture and deaths due to torture inside Syrian regime detention centers, and to save whoever is left among the detainees as quickly as possible.
The report also calls on the Security Council and the United Nations to compel the Syrian regime to open all detention centers for inspection by the International Committee of the Red Cross and all United Nations committees.
The report additionally provides a number of other recommendations.