New evidence has surfaced of “systematic torture and mass killing” of Syrian dissidents “on an industrial scale” by Syrian regime forces. A man who used to work as a photographer with the Syrian military police and was in charge of “taking pictures of killed detainees” between March 2011 to August 2013, smuggled tens of thousands of his photographs after defecting and fleeing the country. Experts say his photographs, documents and testimony provide “clear evidence” of war crimes and/or crimes against humanity that can stand scrutiny in any court or tribunal. (MORE DETAILS BELOW)
COMMENT FROM THE EDITOR:
For us, Iranians, an important question is: did the Iranian government (whether through Sepah Qods fighters and commanders or through its “advisers” to the Syrian regime) participate in these crimes? Did they directly take part in the arrest and torture of some of these victims? Or did they at least know and approve of them? Because if they did, that would make them complicit in these war crimes and crimes against humanity. We also now have enough evidence and admissions that the Iranian government’s economic and military support to the Syrian regime is what has enabled it to carry on and commit these crimes. This may amount to “endorsing and adopting”, if not “aiding and abetting”, these war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Leaving legal arguments aside, morally, the Iranian regime is certainly complicit in these crimes because it continues to actively and knowingly support their perpetrators. As Imam Ali said: “He who offers consent to the action of some people is as though he joins them in that action. And every one who joins in wrong commits two sins: one for committing the wrong and the other for giving consent to it.”
COMMENT FROM NAAME SHAAM’S IRANIAN MEDIA MONITOR:
Be assured that Iranian state media, as well as many other ‘experts’ and pro-Syrian regime propaganda outlets, will do everything they can to discredit this new compelling evidence.
The first thing you will probably hear is that the images are fake and Photoshoped by western intelligence services (they have actually used similar arguments about previous massacres!).
The second ‘big revelation’ would probably be that the story is biased, if not fabricated, because the people who brought the evidence to light are funded by Qatar. Now Qatar obviously has its own questionable motives behind funding this particular operation, behind its timing and so on (the CNN has already addressed this question with the experts – see http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/20/world/syria-torture-photos-amanpour/index.html).
But does this mean we should just ignore the whole story and pretend it didn’t exist, like many did with the Ghouta chemical massacre in August 2013? Doing so is simply falling victim of the propaganda machine.
A QUICK SUMMARY OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FACTS ABOUT THIS NEW EVIDENCE:
– The evidence comprises a total of 55,000 images of the corpses of about 11,000 detainees who died in custody in inhumane conditions. Most of the victims appear to have been starved to death or strangulated or severely beaten “with rod-like objects.”
– The torture and killing of the victims, including the photographing and the secret burial of the corpses, appears to have been “systematic, consistent and widespread” enough to suggest the pattern would have been approved by a high-level authority (the president, for example).
– The reason for photographing the corpses was “to confirm that orders to execute individuals had been carried out,” as well as enabling the authorities to produce fabricated death certificates without the family of the victim seeing the body. Families were often told the cause of death was either a “heart attack” or “breathing problems”, and that the ‘death’ had taken place in a military hospital, where the photographs were taken.
– The photographer defected and fled the country last year, smuggling the photographs and files with him on memory sticks, which he handed to a Syrian opposition group.
– The group, known as the Syrian National Movement, which is supported by the Qatari government, commissioned a solicitors’ firm in London to examine the evidence and establish its authenticity and reliability.
– The photographs and other documents were examined by internationally renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts, including former prosecutors at the international tribunals on war crimes committed by the former regimes of Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, who found them “authentic” and “capable of being believed by a tribunal of fact in a court of law.” They also interviewed the photographer who took them and found his account “credible, truthful and most compelling.” Their report, which was published today by the CNN and the Guardian, concluded that the evidence is sufficient to support findings of crimes against humanity, and possibly war crimes, against the current Syrian regime.
– The photographs provide direct and credible evidence of what happened to only 11,000 Syrian citizens who were detained by Syrian regime forces (and possibly by the Iranian and Hezbollah militias supporting them). However, at least 22,000 people have been detained since the Syrian revolution started in March 2011. Some 12,000 of them are under 18 years old.
You can watch some of the horrific images here
The experts’ report can be found at