Contributed by Jade Harcourt-Harrison (2nd place, U14 Amnesty International Journalism Competition, Thailand)
In Syria it is not difficult to find victims of felonious detention and torture. The conflict between the rebels and the Assad regime has had a massive impact on the country’s citizens. Thousands upon thousands of victimised people go missing in Syria: activists, opposition fighters, journalists, civilians and humanitarian workers. The government’s security police are persistently submitting innocent, harmless people to egregious detentions. These people are not political terrorists; they are not actively rebelling against the regime; they are simply helping people in this war torn environment. However, because of these selfless acts their lives are destroyed. They all endure inhumane, unacceptable, violations of their human rights. The list of atrocities is shocking.
These victims are…
Snatched from society
Dragged into the depths of prisons
Thrown into rotting cells, darkness swallowing them, concealing them
Shackled to the floor, like animals
Tortured, tortured and tortured
Beaten, whipped, sexually harassed
Pushed into water, no air, burning in their chests
Hung from the ceiling by their hands and legs
Finally, they speak … lies… but answers. They will say anything, to stop the unbearable pain.
An example of these horrific crimes against humanity is an anonymous victim who reported to the BBC about her terrible experience in Syria. She was at a peaceful protest when the army started to open fire; which led to a bloody massacre. She bravely stayed to treat the injured protestors and later fled the city. During her escape the regime’s security police captured her.
“I was subjected to torture, atrocities, insults… They were focusing on the psychological element – insults, humiliation – as a punishment because of what I had done.”
Her ordeal was far from over…
“I was subjected to beatings, whippings, electric shocks. I was detained in a single cell, it was a horrible place under the ground. There were three floors – and I was kept there for one and a half months.”
After these horrendous actions had taken place, she was confirmed innocent in a trial in the country’s terrorism court. She then managed to escape to Lebanon to a refugee camp, continuing to endure hardship and suffering. She applied for a resettlement in England and luckily, this was granted.
However, masses of Syrians are not as fortunate, despite the continued efforts to resolve the conflict and eradicate these crimes against humanity.
We must continue to support humanitarian organizations that are working tirelessly to help these victims of torture. We must not let these abhorrent regimes camouflage their guilt in deceptions and denials. We must ensure that the plight of these people doesn’t leave the media spotlight. As the old Chinese proverb states: “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
St. Andrews International School – Green Valley, Thailand