Home Human Rights Journalism Escalation in Tartous Central Prisons Amidst Concerns for Safety of Detainees

Escalation in Tartous Central Prisons Amidst Concerns for Safety of Detainees

by wael.m
17 views This post is also available in: Arabic

On Sunday, 30th October 2016, the Chief of Police in Tartous province visited the central prison in response to prison protests. As reported by other prisoners, Souleiman Al Assad, who had been convicted of murder, refused to meet the Warden because he feared the Warden would change his place of detention – as reported by other prisoners. Souleiman's "supporters," who are also criminal prisoners, joined him in his protest and began to riot and cause damage to the prison. They broke all the locks on the non-cell prison doors and would not allow the police to lock other doors that evening following the “Be Safe” break period as was the usual practice. Security forces were then posted snipers on top of nearby buildings, which further increased the tension inside the prison facility.

Indeed, police officers stayed inside the besieged prison until Monday evening October 31, 2016. Then after their departure, the police attempted to re-enter the prison. They fired shots into the air to frighten the prisoners, who started making noise and locking doors, preventing the police from entering the prison. The police had to retreat.

Fear and suspense now prevails in the prison. This is especially the case for the detainees who were arrested against the backdrop of the Syrian Revolution, the majority of which were referred to anti- terrorism court. These detainees are concerned about being held responsible for the riot and damage caused by Souleiman's supporters, even though they did not participate. In addition, there is concern that Souleiman Al Assad will make use of these detainees case to "protect himself." The detainees demands, as represented in a meeting with both the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Reconciliation, was to look at their situation in front of the unfair courts, have yet to be met. The detainees’ demands, however, are fundamentaly different than the Souleiman’s demands.

Syrians for Truth and Justice could not gain access to the prisoners. Note there are concerns of losing contact with prisoners due to power, water and meals cuts.  

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