Posted: 26 May 2011
Amnesty International has obtained video footage that the organisation believes points to a ”shoot-to-kill” policy being used by the Syrian security forces to quell reform protests.
The footage, smuggled out of Syria by contacts of Amnesty’s, shows protesters shot and beaten by security forces, soldiers conducting a night raid on the ‘Omari mosque in Dera’a and a mass funeral in Izraa.
The footage was shot in late March and April in and around the city of Dera’a. It shows the kind of tactics used by the authorities in their crackdown against protesters, a crackdown that continues in the cities of Banias, Homs and elsewhere.
The video also shows large groups of children joining the protests and the funerals of some six people, including a boy and an old man. The security forces have dispersed funerals with lethal force on a number of occasions.
The 30-minute video includes scenes of:
* The military raiding the ‘Omari mosque, which was being used as a field hospital
* Soldiers and armed men in plain clothes inside the mosque after their operation, filming bodies on the floor, celebrating and shouting “Take pictures, we killed them, they are traitors”
* Badly injured, possibly dead, individuals being carried hurriedly away
* People who appear to have sustained severe head injuries and in some cases to have died as a result
* Two scenes of uniformed members of the security forces bludgeoning injured men lying on the road
* Testimony from an ambulance worker who tells of how the army would not let anyone tend to the wounded
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Philip Luther said:
“These extraordinary images were taken by Syrians who have risked their lives to document the callous attempts of the authorities to terrorise the pro-reform movement from going out onto the streets.
“Images of unarmed civilians shot in the head help explain why there have been so many fatalities. Together with footage of soldiers celebrating deaths, they document what appears to be a ‘shoot to kill’ policy.
“Other clips showing the bludgeoning of men lying on the ground - one of whom seems to have been already shot and critically injured - highlight the wanton cruelty of the regime’s security apparatus.
“Faced with this and other compelling evidence of rampant abuses, President Bashar al-Assad must stop the Syrian security forces shooting unarmed protesters and ensure that perpetrators are held to account for their treatment of fellow Syrians
“These videos add to the damning collection of reasons why the UN Security Council must take decisive action and refer Syria to the International Criminal Court over its brutal crackdown against pro-reform protesters.”
Amnesty has the names of more than 720 people believed to have been killed by the Syrian security forces during the past two months of unrest sparked by protests throughout the region.
[Warning: video contains graphic and disturbing images] available on request from Amnesty International UK press office