Amnesty: Medics tortured, killed in Aleppo
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 07:08 GMT
Amnesty International has reported the discovery of the "charred and mutilated bodies" of three young medical workers a week after their arrest in Aleppo city, saying it was further evidence of the Syrian government forces’ brutality.
The men were supposedly students at Aleppo University.
"Basel Aslan and Mus’ab Barad were fourth-year medical students and Hazem Batikh was a second-year English literature student and a first-aid medic," said a statement from the rights group.
They were reportedly part of a team of doctors, nurses and first-aiders who have been providing life-saving medical treatment in makeshift “field hospitals” set up to treat demonstrators shot by security forces and who could not go to state-run hospitals for fear of being arrested, tortured or even killed.
They were kept in detainment since being apprehended by Air Force Intelligence on June 17.
“The brutal killing of these young medics who took great personal risk to rescue and treat injured protesters is yet more evidence that Syrian government forces are prepared to commit unspeakable crimes to silence dissent,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty's senior crisis response adviser who recently returned from several weeks in Syria.
“As casualties from the current unrest have mounted, so President Bashar al-Assad’s government has intensified its hunt for the wounded and for those who provide life-saving emergency treatment to them.
“Such violations are part of an increasingly entrenched pattern of crimes against humanity being perpetrated with impunity by Syrian government forces.”
The three students’ burned bodies were found in the early hours of June 24 in a burned-out car in the Neirab area of Aleppo’s north-eastern outskirts.
Amnesty claims to have seen images of the corpses that back up these descriptions.
The students’ identity cards and university cards were found intact alongside their bodies, indicating that they had been left there after the bodies were burned.
A fourth, charred corpse found with the men has yet to be identified.
Shortly after the three students were arrested, one of their parents called their son’s phone and an unidentified man reportedly answered, saying: “You don’t know how to raise your son. We will teach him how to behave.”
During their detention by Air Force Intelligence, their friends tried in vain to seek their release. Senior Air Force Intelligence officers - who allegedly had released detainees in exchange for bribes in the past – told their friends “to forget them”.
Security forces have routinely responded to peaceful protest demonstrations in Aleppo city by firing live rounds into the crowds and arresting and torturing known or suspected protesters and their supporters.
As more frequent and larger demonstrations have been taking place in the city in recent weeks, the security forces’ crackdown has become increasingly brutal and widespread.
From the outset of the protests which began in February 2011, Syrian government forces have allegedly been targeting doctors and other medical personnel suspected of providing life-saving emergency treatment to protesters and bystanders wounded in attacks.
"Government forces and militias also systematically destroyed and burned down field hospitals and clinics in towns and villages they attacked," said the group's statement.
“Medics and first-aiders working amid unrest and conflict take enormous risks to provide immediate life-saving care to the injured and evacuate them to safety. In Syria such risks are magnified by a government policy to target medical personnel and to exact retribution against them,” said Rovera.
“Those responsible for such gross human rights violations at the highest level of government should be warned that they will not be able to enjoy impunity for such crimes for ever.”