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Amnesty: Horrors at Syrian Prison Include Weekly Mass Hangings

Report details up to 13K executions at Saydnaya Prison
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2017 3:22 AM CST

(Newser) – Every week, sometimes twice a week, a military facility in Syria executes more people than the United States executes in a year, according to a hard-hitting Amnesty International report on the "human slaughterhouse" that is Saydnaya Prison. Syria has been secretly killing up to 50 people at a time, mostly civilian opponents of the regime, in mass hangings at the prison, executing up to 13,000 people between 2011 and 2015, according to the report. It notes that there's every reason to believe that the executions continue to this day. The executions are in addition to the estimated tens of thousands of deaths in prisons across Syria since the beginning of the civil war that were due to torture or inhumane conditions, the Guardian reports.

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The only legal process inmates go through before they're executed is a one- or two-minute hearing at a "Military Field Court," according to Amnesty, which spoke to 84 witnesses, including former guards, in the course of its investigation. A portion of the report: "Throughout this process, [the prisoners] remain blindfolded. They do not know when or how they will die until the noose was placed around their necks." Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty's Beirut office, says upcoming peace talks cannot ignore the findings. "The horrors ... [were] authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent." She calls for Iran and Russia, the regime's closest allies, to push for an end to Syria's "murderous detention policies." (Read more Syrian civil war stories.)

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