Syria: Protesters Killed and Scores Detained Including Children

A boy, whose face is painted in the colors of the Syrian flag, shouts during a demonstration against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's rule (Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

By Mahsa Maleki, Syria Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

Over the past few weeks in the Middle East, we have seen firsthand the importance of the right to protest peacefully and freely.  Since March 16, protesters in Syria have stood up for this right, taking to the streets and demanding the release of political prisoners.

The Syrian government has responded by imprisoning peaceful protesters, creating a cycle of injustice. At least 21 people went missing after Wednesday’s protest and another 33 people could face up to fifteen years in prison for taking part in the protests.

Still other protesters have been killed. On Friday, four men died after security forces opened fire on demonstrators.  Another man was killed on Sunday and a sixth–reported to be only 12 or 13 years old– died on Monday after inhaling tear gas. Dozens more were injured by bullets and tear gas, and many more were detained.

This past Tuesday, at least seven people were reported dead after a night-time raid on the ‘Omari mosque in the southern town of Dera’a, where scores of protesters were staging a sit-in. If confirmed, these deaths tragically bring the loss of life during only six days of protests in the town to 13.  The residents of Dera’a were put under curfew with government announcements telling them they will be shot if they leave their house.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said he regarded all those who were arrested as prisoners of conscience, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.

Amnesty International has condemned these deadly attacks and has called on the Syrian authorities to launch an independent investigation into the death of anti-government protesters. “The use of lethal force by the Syrian security forces against protesters who, by all accounts, were not putting others’ lives at risk is totally unacceptable. People must be allowed to assemble and protest peacefully,” Luther said.

The protests in Syria have continued since and, as with elsewhere in the region, the protesters are calling for an end to corruption and an expansion of political freedom .  The residents of Dera’a are also calling for the release of more than 30 children who were detained for several weeks after writing “the people want the fall of the regime”—a famous protest slogan– on a wall.

Amnesty International has also compiled the names of 93 people who were arrested during March throughout Syria and remain detained in unknown locations. This list is likely far from complete, and the real number of those arrested is thought to be much higher.  Amnesty International believes that many of those detained are prisoners of conscience, held merely for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression and association by peacefully supporting or taking part in protests.

Demand the release of those wrongfully detained in Syria (PDF)

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12 thoughts on “Syria: Protesters Killed and Scores Detained Including Children

  1. And to think that Bashar al-Assad and his "humanitarian" wife were featured in this month's Vogue. To me this is further proof of the staggering rift that continues to divide the rich and the poor… everywhere.

  2. And to think that Bashar al-Assad and his “humanitarian” wife were featured in this month’s Vogue. To me this is further proof of the staggering rift that continues to divide the rich and the poor… everywhere.

  3. We may be just a matter of days away from a repeat of the Hama massacre.

    Journalist Robert Fisk of the Independent Newspaper, personally eye witnessed what he estimated was the murder of 20,000 Syrians in 1982 in the town of Hama by this very same government that is still killing and murdering these 30 years later.

    I have a question for Amnesty.

    Yet we have never heard a peep from Amnesty in all these years about brining any Syrian to justice to be held to account by the ICC or any other way for the 82' Hama massacre.

    So why, Amnesty, why, knowing full well of the murderers in power in Syria, of the tens of thousands of victims of Hama lying in thier graves for 3 decades, why Amnesty did you never once, not even one single time ever in the history of your organization ever call for an investigation of Hama, you never called for any international justice for the victims, you sat and watched in silence as Syria, a nation ruled by a criminal gang of despotic killers sat on the Security Council, sat on the UN Human Rights Council, silence from Amnesty. You never said a word.

    Silence, Silence, Silence.

    Don't you think it is possible that by Amnesty not seeking justice for the '82 Hama massacre, by in effect completely shirking your duty and responsibilities as a group that claims to uphold International law, by letting the Syrian regime get away scot free with their 1982 mass murders of tens of thousands, you are complicit in today's massacre ?

  4. We may be just a matter of days away from a repeat of the Hama massacre.

    Journalist Robert Fisk of the Independent Newspaper, personally eye witnessed what he estimated was the murder of 20,000 Syrians in 1982 in the town of Hama by this very same government that is still killing and murdering these 30 years later.

    I have a question for Amnesty.

    Yet we have never heard a peep from Amnesty in all these years about brining any Syrian to justice to be held to account by the ICC or any other way for the 82′ Hama massacre.

    So why, Amnesty, why, knowing full well of the murderers in power in Syria, of the tens of thousands of victims of Hama lying in thier graves for 3 decades, why Amnesty did you never once, not even one single time ever in the history of your organization ever call for an investigation of Hama, you never called for any international justice for the victims, you sat and watched in silence as Syria, a nation ruled by a criminal gang of despotic killers sat on the Security Council, sat on the UN Human Rights Council, silence from Amnesty. You never said a word.

    Silence, Silence, Silence.

    Don’t you think it is possible that by Amnesty not seeking justice for the ’82 Hama massacre, by in effect completely shirking your duty and responsibilities as a group that claims to uphold International law, by letting the Syrian regime get away scot free with their 1982 mass murders of tens of thousands, you are complicit in today’s massacre ?

  5. Amnesty International (AI) has consistently called for accountability for human rights violations in Syria. AI in its 1983 Annual report (1982 calendar year) noted reports of massacres in Hama and estimated the casualties at 10,000; AI was unable to enter the county to verify. Moreover, AI repeatedly called on the Syrian government to set up commissions of inquiry, but received no response. AI’s 1985 Annual Report notes that AI submitted its concerns about Syria under a UN procedure for confidential review and stated that the evidence revealed a “consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights warranting UN investigation.”

    Regarding the recent events in Syria, AI has called on the Syria government to investigate the deaths of protesters. The Syrian government, however, does not have a good record of investigation, even when they have promised such inquiry. As of now the names of 55 people who have been killed has been passed to AI. As Philip Luther, AI’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, stated the excessive use of force by the Syrian government makes their recent promise to investigate the violence “sound rather hollow,” and that "[i]f the words we heard from the Syrian government yesterday are to mean anything, they must immediately issue clear orders to restrain the security forces to prevent further loss of life." Please see AI's statement issued today, March 25, 2011, for more information (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/syria-2011-03-25).

  6. Amnesty International (AI) has consistently called for accountability for human rights violations in Syria. AI in its 1983 Annual report (1982 calendar year) noted reports of massacres in Hama and estimated the casualties at 10,000; AI was unable to enter the county to verify. Moreover, AI repeatedly called on the Syrian government to set up commissions of inquiry, but received no response. AI’s 1985 Annual Report notes that AI submitted its concerns about Syria under a UN procedure for confidential review and stated that the evidence revealed a “consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights warranting UN investigation.”

    Regarding the recent events in Syria, AI has called on the Syria government to investigate the deaths of protesters. The Syrian government, however, does not have a good record of investigation, even when they have promised such inquiry. As of now the names of 55 people who have been killed has been passed to AI. As Philip Luther, AI’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, stated the excessive use of force by the Syrian government makes their recent promise to investigate the violence “sound rather hollow,” and that "[i]f the words we heard from the Syrian government yesterday are to mean anything, they must immediately issue clear orders to restrain the security forces to prevent further loss of life." Please see AI's statement issued today, March 25, 2011, for more information (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/syria-2011-03-25).

  7. Amnesty International (AI) has consistently called for accountability for human rights violations in Syria. AI in its 1983 Annual report (1982 calendar year) noted reports of massacres in Hama and estimated the casualties at 10,000; AI was unable to enter the county to verify. Moreover, AI repeatedly called on the Syrian government to set up commissions of inquiry, but received no response. AI’s 1985 Annual Report notes that AI submitted its concerns about Syria under a UN procedure for confidential review and stated that the evidence revealed a “consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights warranting UN investigation.”

    Regarding the recent events in Syria, AI has called on the Syria government to investigate the deaths of protesters. The Syrian government, however, does not have a good record of investigation, even when they have promised such inquiry. As of now the names of 55 people who have been killed has been passed to AI. As Philip Luther, AI’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, stated the excessive use of force by the Syrian government makes their recent promise to investigate the violence “sound rather hollow,” and that "[i]f the words we heard from the Syrian government yesterday are to mean anything, they must immediately issue clear orders to restrain the security forces to prevent further loss of life." Please see AI's statement issued today, March 25, 2011, for more information (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/syria-2011-03-25).

  8. Amnesty International (AI) has consistently called for accountability for human rights violations in Syria. AI in its 1983 Annual report (1982 calendar year) noted reports of massacres in Hama and estimated the casualties at 10,000; AI was unable to enter the county to verify. Moreover, AI repeatedly called on the Syrian government to set up commissions of inquiry, but received no response. AI’s 1985 Annual Report notes that AI submitted its concerns about Syria under a UN procedure for confidential review and stated that the evidence revealed a “consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights warranting UN investigation.”

    Regarding the recent events in Syria, AI has called on the Syria government to investigate the deaths of protesters. The Syrian government, however, does not have a good record of investigation, even when they have promised such inquiry. As of now the names of 55 people who have been killed has been passed to AI. As Philip Luther, AI’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, stated the excessive use of force by the Syrian government makes their recent promise to investigate the violence “sound rather hollow,” and that “[i]f the words we heard from the Syrian government yesterday are to mean anything, they must immediately issue clear orders to restrain the security forces to prevent further loss of life.” Please see AI’s statement issued today, March 25, 2011, for more information (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/syria-2011-03-25).

  9. Regarding Syria unrest.
    This item appeared in the local news today (29MARCH2011):
    "President Assad (Bashar al-Assad) accepts the government's resignation." an
    announcement on state television said.
    According to internet sources (Wikipedia) the government's Baath political party
    has been in power for over 47 years.
    It remains to be seen whether Bashar al-Assad is able to restrain Syrian security
    forces from using lethal force against protesters which in turn further destabilizes
    the nation.

  10. Regarding Syria unrest.
    This item appeared in the local news today (29MARCH2011):
    “President Assad (Bashar al-Assad) accepts the government’s resignation.” an
    announcement on state television said.
    According to internet sources (Wikipedia) the government’s Baath political party
    has been in power for over 47 years.
    It remains to be seen whether Bashar al-Assad is able to restrain Syrian security
    forces from using lethal force against protesters which in turn further destabilizes
    the nation.