The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has acknowledged the deaths of at least 1,056 Syrians who were forcibly disappeared by the security services over the years, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).
In a 14-page report published by the rights group, it asserted that the regime unintentionally gave evidence of its practice of forcible disappearances and the deaths of those held in its custody through its Civil Registry departments by manipulating data on those detained.
Providing pictures and copies of death certificates and records of some of those killed after being forcibly disappeared, the report stresses that since early 2018, various officials in Syrian state institutions – such as the ministries of Interior and Justice – had registered deaths of those previously forcibly disappeared in its detention centres.
It also specifically revealed that from the beginning of 2018 up until April 2022, regime officials registered at Civil Registry offices the deaths of at least 1,056 individuals in detention, including two women and nine children. The causes of their deaths, of course, were not clarified, leading SNHR to believe that – as is usually the case – the detainees were tortured to death.
Those recorded deaths reportedly included names which the SNHR recorded as being forcibly disappeared over the years, with the regime refusing to acknowledge their detention.
A key example of that phenomenon is presented by the report as occurring from the beginning of February this year until this current month of April, in which the deaths of at least 54 persons from the southern village of Deir al Asafeer were admitted to their families by the Civil Registry departments. That was despite the regime previously denying any information about them.
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In processes of cross-checking data, the SNHR revealed that 36 of those persons were previously registered in the SNHR's database of forcibly disappeared individuals, while only 18 of them were new cases.
Such practices, the report stresses, is acknowledgement by the regime that it has been engaging in forcible disappearances of the Syrian population during all the years of denying that it had been doing so.
The director of SNHR, Fadel Abdul Ghany, stated that "Although the Syrian regime has always denied that it has forcibly disappeared thousands of Syrians, the Civil Registry incidents reveal that dozens of these people have died, and the Syrian regime has not informed their families, or handed over their bodies, even though it may have been years since their death."
He added that "There is hardly a regime worldwide similar to the Assad regime in its barbaric dealings with the people except for North Korea. The international community must help 86,792 forcibly disappeared Syrian citizens, for every delay means more deaths among the Syrian people."
The report stated that it calls on the UN and its Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to determine the situation of around 86,000 individuals who remain forcibly disappeared and in detention. It urged the UN and the Council "to take action under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to protect the detainees from a certain death inside detention centers, to find a mechanism to compel the Syrian regime to end torture and enforced disappearances, and to take all necessary procedures to prevent the Syrian regime from persecuting and tampering with the living and the dead".
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