Sunday, December 18, 2011

We'll screen shocking images of violence and child abuse that proves Syrian torture policy

shocking images in syria
Shocking Images in Syria
Some of the most graphic images ever to be shown on British television will be screened tomorrow night.

Channel 4 is planning to broadcast shocking film of protesters – including children, teachers and a mayor – allegedly being beaten by members of Syria’s secret police.

It claims the images provide ‘irrefutable prima facie’ evidence that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is torturing its citizens.

Executives have sanctioned the broadcasting of the footage after the 9pm watershed but it was deemed too explicit for the station’s early evening news.

Instead, the documentary, ent-itled Syria’s Torture Machine and presented by Jonathan Miller, will be shown at 11.10pm.

Siobhan Sinnerton, Channel 4’s current affairs commissioning editor, said: ‘Assad’s government has denied accusations of torture. This film aims to establish, through forensic analysis, the extent to which torture is systematic.’

The UN estimates 5,000 Syrians have been killed and 50,000 tortured since the Arab Spring uprising spread to the country in March. More than 30,000 videos showing violent repression have been put on the internet, which Assad’s regime insists are faked.

Now Channel 4 has investigated some of that footage and claims it has verified it, presenting strong evidence that the regime is committing crimes against humanity.

The revelation is expected to cause shockwaves and revulsion around the world. Mr Miller said: ‘We got a group of independent experts, including an exiled former member of the security forces, Syrian translators, a forensic pathologist, a specialist doctor and IT experts to examine the footage.

‘The result is a grotesque collection of verified videos which we believe shows the regime is committing crimes against humanity.

‘The film is too horrific to broadcast on pre-watershed news but we believe it is too important not to show. The world has to know what’s going on in Syria. It’s torture on an industrial scale. And it’s going on right now.’

The images were allegedly sourced from ‘trophy’ footage taken by officers from the four main pillars of the secret police – military intelligence, air force intelligence, the political security directorate and the general security directorate – and mobile phone footage made by protesters and family members.

Perhaps most shocking is what Channel 4 believes is trophy footage of teacher and father-of-six Loay Abdul Hakim al-Amer being tortured and killed. His ankles are bound to an assault rifle so that the soles of his feet can be whipped by Special Forces soldiers.

‘Film me while I’m hitting him,’ one soldier orders. ‘Shall I shoot him and get rid of him?’ another yells. Five days later his body was returned to his family bearing the tell-tale marks of torture.

In another piece of suspected trophy footage, a blindfolded man, his hands tied behind his back, is allegedly kicked and stamped on by soldiers with Alawite accents – the minority Shia Muslim sect to which the President and the army’s officer corps belong. ‘Kick him, kick him,’ one says.

A third shows the mayor of a district in Idlib province being subjected to a foot-whipping technique known as falaqa.

The footage is believed to have been filmed by soldiers from the elite 4th Armoured Division, which is commanded by Assad’s brother Maher. The victim is seen passing out after being kicked in the head.

Professor Derrick Pounder, a forensic pathologist at Dundee University, reviewed 20 videos for the film and concluded: ‘It is crude, physical violence in an extreme form.

‘It would suggest that what was happening was on a wide scale and is carried out with impunity.’

The Mail on Sunday contacted the Syrian Embassy about the film but staff did not respond.

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