Geneva – Syrian regime forces, including the army, security officers and armed militias, have burned at least 82 people to death, including 47 civilians and 18 children, concludes a joint report released by Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights and the Syrian Network for Human Rights. Since 2011, the bodies of another 773 people, including 146 women and 69 children, have been found that were apparently murdered then burned, either to cover up the regime’s crimes or to intimidate the opposition.
According to the report, the Syrian regime’s practice of burning people alive has received little or no media coverage, since the government forces deny committing such crimes. Yet at the same time, several local pro-government websites embrace and even boast about the acts. In addition, families of the victims and local human rights activists have posted videos of the crimes shot with modest cameras to document the atrocities.
“Burning people to death or burning the bodies after killing their victims is a practice systematically adopted by regime forces in various Syrian cities over the past four years,” says Fadel Abdul Ghani, chair of the Syrian Network for Human Rights. “The crimes coincided with several sectarian massacres, mostly in Hama where 38 people were burned alive.”
One of the cases documented in the report is the burning of four family members while they were still alive, including three children and a woman, in their home in the Gold Market of Latakia. The perpetrators of the crime committed on 28 January, 2012, were armed militias loyal to the regime. In another incident, pro-government militiamen killed three people by throwing them into a furnace in the Jura neighbourhood of Deir ez-Zor at the end of September 2012.
Likewise, government forces moved into the Masha’a al-Arbi’n neighbourhood after targeting it with tanks and heavy weapons. Subsequently, a number of young men from the same neighbourhood were arrested and gathered in one house only to be burned alive when it was set afire. Nine people, including one child, were burned to death in that incident. Elsewhere, government forces surrounded a house in the al-Farrayeh neighbourhood in Hama, where a number of rebels had taken cover, and set fire to the structure, killing 27 people inside.
The investigation found that the burnings were carried out individually in some incidents and collectively, to a large number of people following massacres (often sectarian). Forty-four massacres have been documented. In some cases, women were burned after being sexually assaulted.
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the Syrian Network for Human Rights conclude that these executions represent crimes against humanity under the Charter of Rome, as well as war crimes and inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury, under Article 8 (2) (c) of the same charter.
“The UN Security Council must step up its efforts to stop terrorism by all of the various parties involved. The focus of the international community on crimes committed by the Islamic State (also called ISIL or ISIS), while ignoring almost all similar crimes committed by Syrian government forces and local militias, is only fueling extremism,” warns Abdul Ghani.
Euro-Med Monitor is an independent, nonprofit organization for the protection of human rights established in November 2011. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, to allow it easy access to the European institutions of governance and law are its primary targets and audience.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights is an independent, neutral, non-governmental, non-profit human rights organization, which aims to document the ongoing human rights violations in Syria.
Click here for full report.
For more information contact:
Ihsan Adel, Euro-Med Monitor legal advisor
Fadel Abdul Ghani, chair of the Syrian Network for Human Rights
+974 7025 6677