Syria children speak of beatings, torture

2012-09-25 22:46

Beirut - Khalid, 15, said he was hung by his arms from the ceiling of his own school building in Syria and beaten senseless. Wael said he saw a 6-year-old starved and beaten to death, "tortured more than anyone else in the room".

The first-person accounts come from interviews with refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict conducted by the British-based charity Save the Children and published on Tuesday.

The report did not say who had abused the children, but a spokesman for Save the Children said some had heard their parents blaming government forces for the attacks.

UN investigators say Syrian government forces have committed human rights violations "on an alarming scale", but have also listed multiple killings and kidnappings by armed rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad.

The children that Save the Children spoke to in refugee camps in neighbouring countries said they had witnessed massacres and seen family members killed during the 18-month-old conflict.

"I knew a boy called Ala'a. He was only 6 years old. He didn't understand what was happening. His dad was told that this child would die unless he gave himself up," said Wael, 16, who like all the children interviewed was not identified by his full name or location.

"I'd say that 6-year-old boy was tortured more than anyone else in the room. He wasn't given food or water for three days, and he was so weak he used to faint all the time," Wael was quoted as saying. "He was beaten regularly. I watched him die. He only survived for three days and then he simply died."

Opposition activists say 27 000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria's bloodshed. Many of the civilians died initially in attacks by security forces on peaceful protests. Others have been killed in government shelling or in crossfire during the ensuing civil war.

Stubbed cigarettes out on me

Khalid, 15, said he had been taken along with over a hundred others to his old school, which had been turned into a torture centre, and had his hands tied with plastic cord.

"They hung me up from the ceiling by my wrists, with my feet off the ground, then I was beaten. They wanted us to speak, to confess to something," he said.

"I passed out from the severe pain of hanging like that, and from the beating. They took me down and threw cold water on my face to wake me up. Then they took turns stubbing out their cigarettes on me. Here, I have these scars."

Omar, 11, described life under bombardment.

"One day I was playing with my brothers and my cousin. We were teasing her and she was upset. She left us and went to her house. That night, a shell destroyed my 9-year-old cousin's house - the one we'd upset during the day. I regret that she died feeling sad," he said.

Another interviewee, Munther, 11, said that he and several other children were standing outside his school when bullets started whizzing by.

"A boy called Amjad was standing next to me. He was shot in the head. I didn't realise at first that he was dead. He fell forward on his knees, in a praying position," Munther said.

"Then I felt a terrible pain. I'd been shot too - in my neck," he added, pointing to two scars.

Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth, who heard the reports first-hand, said the stories "need to be heard and documented so those responsible for these appalling crimes against children can be held to account".

The charity urged the United Nations to increase its presence on the ground to enable it to document every crime.

  • hannah.p.mostert - 2012-09-25 23:21


  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-26 01:26

    Are there autrocities committed by the opposition/FSA ? Sure there are ! With a disorganized opposition, made up from many factions of Syrian soceity, with only ONE common goal; to get rid of their dictatorship, there are bound to be roque elements. They must be aprehended and brought to justice!!! Does the Syrian army commit autrocities ? Yes, there is too muche evidence ! And THAT is totally unacceptable. An army is to protect its people, not to unleash a reign of terror ! The Syrian regime, is illegitimate, it is unelected. To say it represents the people, is absurd. it has no accountability to anyone, but themselves. For FIFTY YEARS the assads have ruled Syria with an iron fist and made Syria the most oppresive regimes in the world. THAT is what the opposition is fighting for; a Syria without the assads, a country where one can live without FEAR and TYRANNY. assad MUST GO !!

      tom.guy.37669528 - 2012-09-26 08:25

      No point of freedom when your permanently scared of lawless rebel groups. No point in freedom if you can't afford food. I agree anthony, assad must go, but be careful you don't remove all forms of the state in the process. Or the civil was will continue long after he's gone.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-26 09:23

      Tom, ""no point of freedom when your permanently scared of lawless rebel groups"" It is doubtful , Egypt and even Libya, tell you otherwise. As soon s their dictators were thrown out, 95 % of thekillings stopped !!! And cannot afford bread......... 60 % of Syria live on less than 2 dollars a day. This is one of the reasons they want to get rid of these assads !!!

  • scholesss - 2012-09-26 04:45

    beating of innocent kids. huh...wat is...this_-\r\n\r\ni would love to see arab world to demostrate against this...

  • thenjiwe.tshivhase - 2012-09-26 08:32

    But how can you torture a 6 year old child?? This is heart breaking beyond words.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-26 09:18

      Ask Fidel !! Fidel will try to convince you, this 6 year old is a 'rebel' !!!!

      Fidel - 2012-09-26 09:53

      @Thenjiwe Does it make sense to you? "In sum, through a process of monopoly control and distribution, repetition,and image escalation, the media and so called independent "Rights Groups" achieve self-confirmation, that is, they find confirmation for the images they fabricate in the images they have already fabricated. Hyperbolic labeling takes the place of evidence:“genocide,” “mass atrocities,” “systematic rapes,” and even “rape camps”—camps which no one has ever located. Through this process, evidence is not only absent, it becomes irrelevant." The home front (westerners) has to be convinced why war or intervention is necessary in Syria. At the end of the day it's the same old dehumanising formula but we fall for it every single time. It's called "manufacturing consent", look it up!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-26 12:52

      What you do; Lets rather call it ; Manufacturing BS, Look it up!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-26 13:39

      But that does not make it fallacious or untrue!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-26 18:03

      Yes, maybe there is a country called Syria, Maybe not!!! Maybe there is a civil war in Syria, Maybe not !!! Maybe there are children in Syria, Maybe not !!! You get the drift ????????

      dashynee.ramlallsewambar - 2012-09-26 19:21

      The story is so heartbreaking, my kids are that age

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