Systematic human rights violations, torture, murder: Syria’s prisons have been notorious for years for the cruelty inflicted on inmates. Opposition members in particular have to fear the worst here since the Assad regime has been waging a war against its own people. At the beginning of the year, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court convicted a Syrian intelligence agent of crimes against humanity in a trialthat was gained international attention and was the first of its kind to date.
Due to the refugee movement as a result of this war, an increasing number of testimonies from these torture prisons have been documented in recent years. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), for example, referred to the Saydnaya military prison near Aleppo as a “place of decades of torture, humiliation and executions.” Together with the research center Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International reconstructed this facility based on testimonies.
The fact that torture goes far beyond the “Arab Spring” or the 2011 revolution in Syria was also confirmed to us during our research on the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey in the fall of 2021. Three former communists tell at this point how their political commitment to a free Syria back in the 1980s landed them behind bars and what happened to them there; at that time still under Hafiz al-Assad, the father of the current dictator Bashar. To allow for an interactive interview format in which you can choose the interviewee and certain questions yourself, we have adapted the statements stylistically.