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The international organization Human Rights Watch released a report on Thursday, December 15, concerning violations and abuses in Syria committed by security forces since the beginning of anti-government protests and demonstrations in March 2011.
The 94-pages report called “By All Means Necessary!” is the result of the investigations conducted independently by Human Rights Watch in Syria, and it is based on statements of hundreds of victims and witnesses. In particular, it focuses on the violence and killings that occurred between April and August 2011, in seven of Syria’s fourteen governorates: Damascus, Daraa, Homs, Idlib, Tartous, Deir al-Zor, and Hama.
Sixty-three defectors, both from the army and the intelligence agencies, were interviewed separately and accurately. They provided detailed information and reports on the violations, the abuses, and the orders they received from commanders of the Syrian army at any level for repressive actions, violence, and attacks on civilian protesters.
The orders were to stop the protests “by all means necessary”. The people who were interviewed had firsthand knowledge of the violations. Their statements provide accounts and evidence of the systematic abuse on civilians and of the responsibility of the government forces for these abuses.
Anna Neistat, an associate director for emergencies at Human Rights Watch who participated directly in the investigations for the report, said and wrote to CNN, “But responsibility for these crimes does not stop with the commanders on the ground.
Under international criminal law, al-Assad, as commander in chief of all forces in Syria, bears responsibility for the most serious crimes committed by his forces – even if he did not order them – to the extent that he knew, or should have known, about the abuses and failed to prevent them.”
A quote from the report reads, “Human Rights Watch’s findings show that military commanders and officials in the intelligence agencies gave both direct and standing orders to use lethal force against the protesters (at least 20 such cases are documented in detail in this report) as well as to unlawfully arrest, beat, and torture the detainees.
In addition, senior military commanders and high-ranking officials, including President Bashar al-Assad and the heads of the intelligence agencies, bear command responsibility for violations committed by their subordinates to the extent that they knew, or should have known, of the abuses, but failed to take action to stop them.
Given the widespread public and international criticism of the abuses, it would be incredible for al-Assad to argue that he did not know.” Hence, what comes out from this report is the commitment and the responsibility of the Syrian regime, and its president, in crimes against humanity during the crackdown of the anti-government protests.
The non-involvement and non-responsibility claims of President Bashar Al-Assad were demolished by the witnesses’ accounts and statements documented in the report of Human Rights Watch.
Moreover, the claims of Syrian authorities about the violations and the violence having been committed and organized by armed terrorist gangs that were “incited and sponsored from abroad” and by foreign countries, crumble in view of what has been reported and documented. During the nine-month crackdown, the number of victims is estimated around 5,000 people, of whom at least 300 were children.
Despite the sanctions imposed recently by the Arab League on Syria and the increasing isolation of the country, the violence and the abuses did not stop, and there seems to be no change in the regime’s police. Maybe the worst has yet to come.