Prisoners were routinely abused, tortured and left to die at a Syrian military hospital in Damascus, according to a damning report published on Tuesday.
Sick prisoners sent from detention centers for treatment at the Tishreen Military Hospital rarely received any medical attention. Instead, security forces and even medical and administrative staff inflicted “brutal torture” on detainees, including physical and psychological violence.
The report by the Association of Detainees and the Missing in Sednaya Prison, a watchdog in Turkey, covers abuses from the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 to 2020, but the authors said they believed many of the practices persisted today.
Inmates arriving at the hospital were first held “in the same room where bodies of detainees were collected,”and sick detainees were forced to help transport prisoners’ corpses, the report said.
No postmortems were conducted and the hospital issued “death certificates with false information,” often giving heart attack, kidney failure or stroke as the cause of death. Sometimes inmates “between life and death”were placed among the corpses and left to die or even killed.
A survivor of the abuse, Abu Hamza, 43, was taken to the jail at the Tishreen hospital three times during his incarceration, but saw a doctor only once. “Prisoners were afraid to go to the hospital, because many did not return,” he said. “Those who were very sick would be left to die in the hospital lockup.”
The report said a jail officer would sometimes kill very sick detainees, or prisoners would be ordered to take part in doing so.
Tishreen hospital plays a “central role in enforced disappearances, covering up torture, falsifying the causes of death and other abuses amounting to crimes against humanity,” said watchdog co-founder Diab Serriya.