From Activist Post
By Brandon Turbeville
February 8, 2017
In yet another act of “convenient” timing, Amnesty International has released a bombshell report alleging the execution by hanging of 13,000 Syrian prisoners by the Syrian government from 2011-2015. The report, “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings And Extermination At Saydnaya Prison, Syria,” which contains rather detailed descriptions of torture, rape, and execution as well as other horrific activity has no doubt caught the attention of many people, even those who have followed the events transpiring in Syria for the last six years. However, there is one important aspect of the report that Amnesty International lacks . . . evidence.
While the report, at first glance, might sound convincing, an adequate reading of the text reveals it to be yet another Western propaganda piece designed to demonize the Assad government shortly before important talks take place in Switzerland. The report contains the right buzzwords such as “extermination campaign” and reads like a story recounting Nazi concentration camps so as to jog the ever-present memory of the Holocaust, thus causing the reader to subconsciously and consciously associate the Nazi slaughter of the Jews with the alleged Assad execution of 13,000 prisoners. Still, while we must give credit to good writing, we must point out that good writing with no evidence is just a piece of fiction.
Below are a number of reasons to question the report and, as a result, another list of reasons to question the integrity of Amnesty International.
The Timing Of The Report
The report has been released conveniently two weeks before talks are set to begin in Switzerland between the Syrian government and the so-called opposition. This is no accident. Already, suit-wearing terrorists are crying that the Syria Peace talks scheduled in two weeks must address the report and the accusations. This “convenient” timing brings to mind the now infamous “Caesar” report produced and paraded around Western media as fact but which, in reality, was nothing more than Qatari-sponsored propaganda.
First, it is important to take a look at the numbers cited by Amnesty International. While the Western media is doing its best to raise the numbers even higher, citing “at least 13,000,” we shall examine the 13,000 claims themselves.
In fact, the numbers are not 13,000, they are somewhere between 5,000 and 13,000, a variance of 8,000. Indeed, while 5,000 alone might seem like a large number, a margin of error that is larger than half of the highest estimate is highly questionable.
It is also important to point out that these numbers are merely an estimate. Take a look at the “Executive Summary,” where the report states,
From December 2015 to December 2016, Amnesty International researched the patterns, sequence and scale of violations carried out at Saydnaya Military Prison (Saydnaya). In the course of this investigation, the organization interviewed 31 men who were detained at Saydnaya, four prison officials or guards who previously worked at Saydnaya, three former Syrian judges, three doctors who worked at Tishreen Military Hospital, four Syrian lawyers, 17 international and national experts on detention in Syria and 22 family members of people who were or still are detained at Saydnaya.…
On the basis of evidence from people who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya and witness testimony from detainees, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.
So where are these numbers coming from? First, the “raw data” is coming from two witnesses total. Even the “raw data” is an estimate from the alleged “witnesses.” Even the extrapolation from that “raw data” is itself an estimate. Look at how the report explains the mechanism for determining how many people have been killed:
People who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya told Amnesty International that extrajudicial executions related to the crisis in Syria first began in September 2011. Since that time, the frequency with which they have been carried out has varied and increased. For the first four months, it was usual for between seven and 20 people to be executed every 10-15 days. For the following 11 months, between 20 and 50 people were executed once a week, usually on Monday nights. For the subsequent six months, groups of between 20 and 50 people were executed once or twice a week, usually on Monday and/or Wednesday nights. Witness testimony from detainees suggests that the executions were conducted at a similar – or even higher – rate at least until December 2015. Assuming that the death rate remained the same as the preceding period, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.
. . . . .
These estimates were based on the following calculations. If between seven and 20 were killed every 10-15 days from September to December 2011, the total figure would be between 56 people and 240 people for that period. If between 20 and 50 were killed every week between January and November 2012, the total figure would be between 880 and 2,200 for that period. If between 20 and 50 people were killed in 222 execution sessions (assuming the executions were carried out twice a week twice a month and once a week once a month) between December 2012 and December 2015, the total figure would be between 4,400 and 11,100 for that period. These calculations produce a minimum figure of 5,336, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 5,000, and 13,540, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 13,000.
Notice the variances of the numbers (between x and y) as well as the language demonstrating lack of anything concrete; i.e. “suggests,” “once or twice a week,” and “assuming.”
In another section of the report, it states,
Former detainees from the red building at Saydnaya provided Amnesty International with the names of 59 individuals who they witnessed being taken from their cells in the afternoon, being told that they were being transferred to civilian prisons in Syria. The evidence contained in this report strongly suggests that in fact, these individuals were extrajudicially executed.
. . . . .
Former prison guards and a former prison official from Saydnaya also provided Amnesty International with the names of 36 detainees who had been extrajudicially executed in Saydnaya since 2011.
These 95 individuals are the only ones Amnesty is able to name. So with the report down from 13,000 to 95, it should be pointed out that the ability to name does not equal proof of execution. Even with all its “witnesses,” there was very little evidence about these individuals (only 1-2% of the total numbers claimed by the report) having been allegedly executed.
Indeed, in its section “Documented Deaths,” Amnesty is forced to admit that the numbers of deaths cannot be proven but the organization still attempts to pad their numbers with deaths which are not from execution. The report states,
the exact number of deaths in Saydnaya is impossible to specify. However, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has verified and shared with Amnesty International the names of 375 individuals who have died in Saydnaya as a result of torture and other ill-treatment between March 2011 and October 2016. Of these, 317 were civilians at the time of their arrest, 39 were members of the Syrian military and 19 were members of non-state armed groups. In the course of the research for this report, Amnesty International obtained the names of 36 additional individuals who died as a result of torture and other ill-treatment in Saydnaya. These names were provided to Amnesty International by former detainees who witnessed the deaths in their cells.
Notice also the source of much of the information – the Syrian Network For Human Rights.
The Sources Of The Report
So who are these alleged “witnesses” and sources behind the report to begin with? For starters, very few interviews were actually conducted in Syria and those that were, were conducted remotely by Skype or telephone. Some were conducted in Lebanon, Jordan, Europe, and the United States. Most, however, were conducted in southern Turkey, the home base of ISIS and related terrorist factions being facilitated by Erdogan’s government and funneled into Syria. Interestingly enough, since Amnesty International has wisely been barred from entering Syria by the government, the organization admits that it does not have access to government-held territory, hinting that it very well might have access to terrorist-held areas.
The report states that,
Given that Amnesty International has been barred by the Syrian authorities from entering the country and has consequently not had access to government-controlled areas since 2011, the majority of these interviews were carried out in southern Turkey, the majority of these interviews took place in person in southern Turkey. The remaining interviews were conducted by telephone or through other remote means with interviewees still in Syria, or with individuals based in Lebanon, Jordan, European countries and the USA.
The report mentions how it came to find the individuals it interviewed for the report. It states that it was put in contact with the relevant alleged “victims” or former “perpetrators” by various international NGOs like “Urnammu for Justice and Human Rights, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability,” all organizations that have profoundly misrepresented the facts on the ground, the opinions and voices of the Syrian people, and who have supported terrorists by acting as ISIS, al-Qaeda, FSA, etc. propaganda organs.
Syrian Network For Human Rights (SNHR) is a notoriously shady organization which many believe to be associated with British Intelligence. As Moon of Alabama writes,
SNHR is known for rather ridiculous claims about casualties caused by various sides of the conflict. It is not know what SNHR qualifies as civilians – do these include armed civil militia? But note that none of the mostly civilians SNHR claims to have died in the prison are said to have been executed. How is it possible that a organization frequently quoted in the media as detailed source of casualties in Syria has no record of the 5,000 to 13,000 Amnesty claims were executed?
One last time, it is imperative that we point out that the Amnesty International report is based on interviews conducted with individuals all over the world who claim to have been victims and perpetrators who are mostly outside of Syria or located in terrorist havens. These individuals were recommended to Amnesty International via three NGOs who are notoriously biased, anti-Assad, pro-terrorist, and potentially wings of intelligence operations. Nowhere in the report is there any attempt to provide a different view or contrary opinion. All information is represented as fact. Sound legit? Not to me.
The “Witness” Testimony Is Not Convincing
In Moon of Alabama’s analysis, some important criticism is leveled at the accuracy of the “witness” testimony. The website writes,
I will not go into the details of witness statements on which the report is build. They seem at least exaggerated and are not verifiable at all. In the end it is pure hearsay on which Amnesty sets it conclusions. One example from page 25:
“Hamid”, a former military officer when he was arrested in 2012, recalled the sounds he heard at night during an execution:
“There was a sound of something being pulled out – like a piece of wood, I’m not sure – and then you would hear the sound of them being strangled… If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes… We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then.”
A court might accept ‘sound of “I’m not sure” “kind of gurgling” noise through concrete’ as proof that a shower was running somewhere. But as proof of executions?
Of all the witnesses Amnesty says it interviewed only two, a former prison official and a former judge, who describe actual executions (page 25). From the wording of their statements it is unclear if they have witnessed any hangings themselves or just describe something they have been told of.
Amnesty Maligns The Grand Mufti and Tries To Represent A Sectarian Syria
The military court procedures described in the report have one glaringly ridiculous flaw that should stand out immediately to anyone who has even a passing understanding of Syrian society and culture. The report attempts to claim that the Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, is involved in the approval of orders to execute prisoners. On page 19 it says that “The judgement is sent by military post to the Grand Mufti of Syria and to either the Minister of Defence or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to sign for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and who specify the date of the execution.”
Yet the report seems to forget two things. First, the Grand Mufti is a well-known moderate who has repeatedly called for peace throughout the conflict. In fact, the position of Grand Mufti is civil only and only pronounces judgement in matters related to certain members of the Sunni faith, similar (although not identical) to a Bishop in the Catholic religion. It would be vastly out of character and vastly contradictory for the Grand Mufti to take part in such activities. It would also be out of character for the Syrian government to consult a Grand Mufti or any religious leader in regards to its war policy. After all, hasn’t Western media portrayed Assad as a sectarian Alawite? So why is he deferring to the Sunni Grand Mufti?
Regardless, the report misses one glaringly obvious fact: Syria is a secular society. Perhaps Amnesty International’s “experts” are ignorant or perhaps they simply believe the Western public is so gullible that such details do not matter but, unlike prehistoric states like Saudi Arabia, Syria is a government of civil law, not the religious. Another possibility is that Amnesty’s witnesses, so closely aligned with the “opposition,” are unaware of how secular societies work, being so used to having religious authorities governing every aspect of life, that they unwittingly included jihadist culture into their depiction of Syrian policy. We might never know the answer but we do know that the representation of Syrian culture provided by Amnesty is inaccurate to say the least.
The Satellite Images
Another source provoking questions about the veracity of the report are the satellite images purportedly showing mass graves near South Damascus. But the images clearly do not show mass graves. They show an expansion of a cemetery, exactly what one would expect in a cemetery near a major city in a country that has experienced such horrific warfare. These photos are grasping at straws to say the least.
The Nature Of Amnesty International
In his excellent article, “Amnesty International Is US State Department Propaganda,” Tony Cartalucci reveals the nature of Amnesty’s funding, which comes from both Western governments, international foundations and color revolution operations such as the infamous George Soros’ Open Society. Cartalucci writes,
That Amnesty is supporting the US State Department’s agenda should be no surprise, it is run literally by the US State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations, Suzanne Nossel.
. . . . . .
Mistakenly considered by many as the final word on human rights worldwide, it might surprise people to know that Amnesty International is in fact one of the greatest obstacles to real human rights advocacy on Earth. In its most recent 2012 annual report (page 4, .pdf), Amnesty reiterates one of the biggest lies it routinely tells:
“Amnesty International is funded mainly by its membership and public donations. No funds are sought or accepted from governments for investigating and campaigning against human rights abuses. Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion.”
This is categorically false. Amnesty international is indeed funded and run by not only governments, but also immense corporate-financier interests, and is not only absolutely entwined with political ideology and economic interests, it is an essential tool used for perpetuating just such interests.
. . . . .
Finding financial information on Amnesty International’s website is made purposefully difficult – specifically to protect the myth that the organization is “independent.” Like any organized criminal operation, Amnesty separates compromising financial ties through a series of legal maneuvers and shell organizations. Upon Amnesty’s website it states:
“The work carried out through Amnesty International’s International Secretariat is organised into two legal entities, in compliance with United Kingdom law. These are Amnesty International Limited (“AIL”) and Amnesty International Charity Limited (“AICL”). Amnesty International Limited undertakes charitable activities on behalf of Amnesty International Charity Limited, a registered charity.”
And it is there, at Amnesty International Limited, where ties to both governments and corporate-financier interests are kept. On page 11 of Amnesty International Limited’s 2011 Report and Financial Statement (.pdf) it states (emphasis added):
“The Directors are pleased to acknowledge the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Oak Foundation, Open Society Georgia Foundation, the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Programme, Mauro Tunes and American Jewish World Service. The UK Department for International Development (Governance and Transparency Fund) continued to fund a four year human rights education project in Africa. The European Commission (EuropeAid) generously awarded a multi-year grant towards Amnesty International’s human rights education work in Europe.”
Clearly then, Amnesty does take money from both governments and corporate-financier interests, one of the most notorious of which, Open Society, is headed by convicted financial criminal George Soros. In March, 2012, it was reported that a Bloomberg’s report, “Soros Loses Case Against French Insider-Trading Conviction,” indicated that an appeal based on a “human rights” violation against Wall Street speculator George Soros had been rejected by the “European Court of Human Rights.”
Soros, whose Open Society also funds Human Rights Watch and a myriad of other “human rights” advocates, literally attempted to use the West’s human rights racket to defend himself against charges of financial fraud in perhaps the most transparent illustration of just how this racket operates.
Soros, who was convicted and fined for insider trading in 2002 regarding French bank Société Générale shares he bought in 1988, has built an empire out of obfuscating global criminal activity with the cause of “human rights.” His support, as well as that of the British and European governments, of Amnesty International aims solely at expanding this obfuscating.
Cartalucci also reveals the nature of the AI “leadership.” He writes,
Amnesty’s leadership is also telling of its true agenda. Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA,[see below] for instance was drawn directly from the US State Department – again, utterly contradicting Amnesty’s claims of being “independent” of governments and corporate interests. Nossel continued promoting US foreign policy, but simply behind a podium with a new logo, Amnesty International’s logo, attached to it. Amnesty International’s website specifically mentions Nossel’s role behind US State Department-backed UN resolutions regarding Iran, Syria, Libya, and Cote d’Ivoire.
. . . . .
A glance at AmnestyUSA.org reveals that each and every front the US State Department is currently working on and has prioritized is also coincidentally prioritized by Amnesty International. This includes rallies and campaigns to support US State Department-funded Russian opposition groups (currently fixated on “Pussy Riot“), undermining the Syrian government, toppling the government of Belarus, and supporting the Wall Street-London created Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (still called by its British Imperial nomenclature of “Burma” by Suu Kyi herself).
[Editor: When Tony Cartalucci wrote this article in 2012, Suzanne Nossel was Executive Director. She resigned in 2013 and became Executive Director of the PEN America Center. In addition to her tenure as deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations at the U.S. State Department, Wikipedia says:
She is also a former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Human Rights Watch and a former Vice President of Strategy and Operations for the Wall Street Journal from 2005–07.
She has served as a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Council on Foreign Relations.
“To advance from a nuanced dissent to a compelling vision, progressive policymakers should turn to the great mainstay of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy: liberal internationalism…(which) should offer assertive leadership — diplomatic, economic, and not least, military — to advance a broad array of goals…–”
from “Smart Power”, Foreign Affairs]
The Amnesty International report is, at best, a faulty and poorly produced distortion of some disturbing reports from dubious sources, exaggerated for the purposes of demonizing Assad and the Syrian government. It simply cannot be believed and has no credibility whatsoever. The lack of understanding of Syrian culture, the straws being grasped when it comes to the satellite photos, dubious NGO influence, terrorist-linked sources, and lack of credible “witnesses” as well as the fact that virtually “evidence” being produced rests on these incredible “witnesses” all serve the purpose of destroying AI’s own propaganda before it can even get off the ground.
Amnesty International may now officially join the ranks of Human Rights Watch in the running for which NGO and “human rights” organization can produce the most ridiculous yet effective propaganda against the Syrian government.
Indeed, Amnesty International has long been known as a State Department propaganda organ designed to attack fake and even sometimes real human rights abuses of target governments. This new report has virtually no evidence to back up its claims and, until it can produce real verifiable evidence, the report itself must be disregarded.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 850 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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