Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Torture in Syria

Today the BBC Arabic discussed a Human Rights Watch (or was it Amnesty International?) report about Syria. The Syrian government forces has been kidnapping people from the streets, imprisoning them, and torturing them.

A lady from Human Rights Watch gave an interview through Skype. The first question the moderator asked was: why did the report only focus on the inhumanity of the Syrian government, when the armed rebels are accused of atrocities themselves?

The lady from Human Rights Watch said she was glad they brought up that point, and that while they had released other reports documenting the behavior of the rebels, this report was exclusively about the Syrian government forces.

Here are some of the pictures they showed during the broadcast. As a warning, these pictures are graphic. I don't think I've ever seen pictures like this on the American news.

This Syrian soldier is beating someone on the floor.

Sketches of what people remembered during their internment.

In this sketch, you can see the prisoner is hooked up to electricity.

 This is a shot from a live video. The prisoner in the red shirt is shouting as the soldiers around him beat him up.

Now, when I was little, my parents grandly assured me that we Muslims are the chosen people on earth, and unlike others, we never do anything wrong. But as you can see, THAT SHIP HAS SAILED!

This is a list of the kinds of people missing inside of Syria's "Black Hole" (its prisons): activists, politicians, journalists, humanitarian workers, doctors, etc.

This is a map of where suspected, or confirmed, prison and torture sites are located.

In the midst of all this, there are still Syrians, as you can see here ...

... who engage in peaceful demonstrations. 

This man was previously in one of the Syrian prisons, but now he is in Istanbul. He was a peaceful activist against the government:
While in prison, he said he saw a man hanging by his wrists for 48 hours; people's heads were thrust into barrels of gas; and he saw a man beaten and beaten and beaten for hours until he finally agreed to say "my mother is a bleep-bleep-bleep" (ah, and my parents always told me I could not use dirty language like my American classmates, because Muslims are soooo much better than that!) He said there were women and children in the prisons. He saw a 13-year-old boy stuck there for five to six months. 

I think he said that every day, five or six people died not from torture, but because there was no food, no sleep, and no space to lie down. Then he said they were allowed to use the bathroom twice a day, for ten seconds each time, and if you were not done you got beaten.

 He said it was definitely not militants being imprisoned. He himself, for example, is a peaceful activist. Then he listed lots of names of people he knew imprisoned who had nothing to do with militancy. He rattled the names off, and the only ones I caught were: Osam il-Hobani, Abdul Aziz il-Something, Maher Tahaar. He said there were some peaceful activists arrested; but that the majority of prisoners have no clue why they are in there.

It was a live conversation. In the middle of them talking, the screen suddenly split, like this:

I thought, oh, they're just showing Syrian military action. Then I thought, wait a second, those police cars look very American. Then I read the black box at the top, which says 'Washington' in Arabic, and the red box beside it says 'live'. That was scary.

Here is the BBC Arabic moderator, already agitated from hearing about all the torture happening in Syria, and now there are twenty converged police cars with lights blaring in D.C. He said: we are going to keep going with our topic of the Syrian prisoners, but this is just an alert to let you know that gunshots have been fired in America's capital city, and there are reports someone is hurt. 

Then, they kept the screen split like that for the rest of the program. Here is the Human Rights Watch lady:

  And, at the end, they turned all their attention to Washington D.C.

But their attention did not really last long, once it was clear that it was not a full-scale attack. 

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