Report is in! "Industrial scale" killings by Assad's forces. So now what?

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Bells, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. Bells Staff Member

    Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the "systematic killing" of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers.

    The three, former prosecutors at the criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined thousands of Syrian government photographs and files recording deaths in the custody of regime security forces from March 2011 to last August.

    Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.

    The UN and independent human rights groups have documented abuses by both Bashar al-Assad's government and rebels, but experts say this evidence is more detailed and on a far larger scale than anything else that has yet emerged from the 34-month crisis.

    The three lawyers interviewed the source, a military policeman who worked secretly with a Syrian opposition group and later defected and fled the country. In three sessions in the last 10 days they found him credible and truthful and his account "most compelling".

    They put all evidence under rigorous scrutiny, says their report, which has been obtained by the Guardian and CNN.

    The authors are Sir Desmond de Silva QC, former chief prosecutor of the special court for Sierra Leone, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the former lead prosecutor of former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, and Professor David Crane, who indicted President Charles Taylor of Liberia at the Sierra Leone court.

    The defector, who for security reasons is identified only as Caesar, was a photographer with the Syrian military police. He smuggled the images out of the country on memory sticks to a contact in the Syrian National Movement, which is supported by the Gulf state of Qatar. Qatar, which has financed and armed rebel groups, has called for the overthrow of Assad and demanded his prosecution.

    The 31-page report, which was commissioned by a leading firm of London solicitors acting for Qatar, is being made available to the UN, governments and human rights groups. Its publication appears deliberately timed to coincide with this week's UN-organised Geneva II peace conference, which is designed to negotiate a way out of the Syrian crisis by creating a transitional government.

    Caesar told the investigators his job was "taking pictures of killed detainees". He did not claim to have witnessed executions or torture. But he did describe a highly bureaucratic system.

    "The procedure was that when detainees were killed at their places of detention their bodies would be taken to a military hospital to which he would be sent with a doctor and a member of the judiciary, Caesar's function being to photograph the corpses … There could be as many as 50 bodies a day to photograph which require 15 to 30 minutes of work per corpse," the report says.

    "The reason for photographing executed persons was twofold. First to permit a death certificate to be produced without families requiring to see the body, thereby avoiding the authorities having to give a truthful account of their deaths; second to confirm that orders to execute individuals had been carried out."

    Families were told that the cause of death was either a "heart attack" or "breathing problems", it added. "The procedure for documentation was that when a detainee was killed each body was given a reference number which related to that branch of the security service responsible for his detention and death.

    "When the corpse was taken to the military hospital it was given a further number so as to document, falsely, that death had occurred in the hospital. Once the bodies were photographed, they were taken for burial in a rural area."

    Three experienced forensic science experts examined and authenticated samples of 55,000 digital images, comprising about 11,000 victims. "Overall there was evidence that a significant number of the deceased were emaciated and a significant minority had been bound and/or beaten with rod-like objects," the report says.

    "In only a minority of the cases … could a convincing injury that would account for death be seen, but any fatal injury to the back of the body would not be represented in the images …

    "The forensics team make clear that there are many ways in which an individual may be killed with minimal or even absent external evidence of the mechanism."

    The inquiry team said it was satisfied there was "clear evidence, capable of being believed by a tribunal of fact in a court of law, of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government. It would support findings of crimes against humanity and could also support findings of war crimes against the current Syrian regime."


    The question is, now what?

    Proof of use of chemical and biological weapons, mass murders, now killing detainees after torturing them.. All war crimes.

    Now what?

    Crane said: "Now we have direct evidence of what was happening to people who had disappeared. This is the first provable, direct evidence of what has happened to at least 11,000 human beings who have been tortured and executed and apparently disposed of.

    "This is amazing. This is the type of evidence a prosecutor looks for and hopes for. We have pictures, with numbers that marry up with papers with identical numbers – official government documents. We have the person who took those pictures. That's beyond-reasonable-doubt-type evidence."

    What other excuses are we going to come up with?

    As I type, Iran's invitation to the peace summit with Iran has been rescinded, because Iran refuses to back any talk of a transition Government in Syria. No surprise there. The Guardian article also laments this report will have on the peace talks. Heaven forbid Assad becomes offended by the realities of his regime.

    But what about Russia, who has been Assad's staunch supporter in the UN. To arrest Assad could result in needing a UNSC referral. Will Russia vote yes to refer it to the ICC? Or will they veto that as well?

    The report is in. Clear evidence of war crimes.

    What now?

    Or will it just be more of the same, nothing will be done. Much complaints about their actions but no action to stop them or make them face justice..?
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Hopefully the UN peace talks will make more progress now that Iran has been un-invited.
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  5. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    Sadly, this is just another lesson in religious intolerance. In this case it is Sunni versus Shia or Saudi Arabia versus Iran some more. Reminds me very much of the bloody Protestant versus Catholic farce in N Ireland for all of those many years.
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  7. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Looks like an overpowering case is being built by people with a reputation for successful prosecution.
    Assad should face trial.
    I hope he does.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  8. Bells Staff Member

    He should but he won't.

    Russia and China will protect him. They will veto any attempt to get him to trial.

    The 11,000 is just what was found by the photographer while he was working there. Heaven knows how many more there are.
  9. p-brane Registered Senior Member

    Though muslims use islam to justify unjustifiable actions, this isn't really about religion.
  10. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    The US should jump in... oh wait recent history has shown that to be a bad idea repeatedly now, I guess our only hope is that Russia and China will side with humanitarianism, of course that is a snowballs chance of hell but we are powerless to do anything at this point aside to finance the opposition and play cheer leader.
  11. Gage Registered Senior Member

    Realistically even if peace could be attained tomorrow, little would stop it from reigniting later on. This was decades in the making. Like a forest with overgrown underbrush, it only takes a match and has to burn at some point. At least.. At least..... the two sides are talking now.. Ya I know...
  12. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member


    If Assad can give the nod to the murder and torture of thousands of people, with no trial resulting, then the International Court is mocked.
    It is a vile level of barbarism.
    The careful documentation of evil is reminiscent of the Third Reich.

    It is on a different scale of course, but within its smaller remit worse.
    Even Hitler did not approve needless torture of his enemies before their murder.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Some people will get ulcers and such. And then blame Assad ...
  14. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    I can see Assad moving off to a quiet retirement in Moscow, once they figure out some face-saving way for him to proclaim victory while bailing out to save his own hide.
  15. p-brane Registered Senior Member

    Maybe Snowden will let him sleep on his couch.
  16. Bells Staff Member

    I was wondering when someone would pick up on that.

    And this is of course just one person who has managed to gather this much evidence from one hospital. Heaven knows how many more there are in other regions and how many are undocumented by a hospital?

    To think this all started because a few people were protesting against his absolute rule and they wanted a chance to vote so he had his forces kill them. I think many people have forgotten just how all of this started.

    All murderous dictators start small.

    Of course, we don't know how many more was killed prior to the conflict starting. How long has he been in power for?
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Assad cannot quite be a Hitler - or at least not in the international sense. In the west, he is bounded by Israel, in the north Turkey, in the east Iraq and in the south even Jordan would probably be a match for him in a defensive war. His limits are essentially those of his own borders barring anschluss with Iran or Iran and Jordan (and what would the Saudis say? hmm). Within those borders he could be quite a monster - though this is one of those rare instances in which a despot comes from the minority group and persecutes the majority. In that it resembles 1066-1400 England; possibly parallels could be drawn from that.

    Naturally, he should be killed; but how? A land war? Or assassination? The latter is preferable, but would still leave Ba'athist elements (or even his family) in power. That would start a civil war, with MB/AQ waiting quietly in the wings. Not a good situation. Who has some ideas?
  18. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    Just look at Iraq and what is becoming of it after Saddam was hung. More suicide bombings there and in a few cities a revolt is going on and that is spreading. So when one dictator is removed another takes his place then the fighting starts all over again with both sides being supplied weapons.
  19. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Iraq has the prerequisite population size, industrial capacity, framework for political fascism and ethnic fragmentation (Sunni/Shia) that you'd need to "Hitlerize"; the last point would be important in order to have a long-term 'national enemy', much like Hitler had the Jews. Iran's a good spot also; it has actual Jews, the 'ethnic enemy of choice' for that region. Turkey also, possibly. Egypt, thankfully, appears to have stabilized the other way, which is amazing.
  20. Bells Staff Member

    Life in prison doing hard labour.
  21. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    We could always ask the USSA to drop some peace bombs, served with a heaping pile of hot freedom fries served covered in smoldering white phosphorus.

    Accounted for Civilian Deaths: 120,509 – 133,539
  22. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    I meant how will we collect him?
  23. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    How about we stop trading with Russia, China and anyone else who supports dictators like Assad, Khamenei and Nasrallah for their own nefarious purposes? It's either that, or we'll have to win them over with extreme flattery... "my, your smoggy unmonitored air is so tasty and low in greenhouse gases," and the like.

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