For Immediate Release
Today the U.S. State Department presented evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has been burning bodies at a crematorium at a military prison outside Damascus.
The following statement is attributable to Susannah Sirkin, PHR’s director of international policy and partnerships:
“If shown to be true, the Syrian government’s use of a crematorium demonstrates the extent to which the Syrian government has become a machine that commits mass murder with impunity. As our colleagues at Amnesty International demonstrated earlier this year, Syrian authorities have executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people at Sadnaya prison. Now we know what they’ve done with the bodies.
“Burning the remains of people who’ve been murdered constitutes destruction of evidence, which is a violation of international law. It’s also an outrage upon personal dignity. As we at PHR have documented, the Syrian government has routinely tortured and executed critics – including doctors and other health professionals – in its network of prisons. Burning the bodies makes remains nearly impossible to identify or return them to families for proper burial. Many of our colleagues in Syria have gone for years without knowing the fates of friends and family members detained during the course of this awful conflict. Now they may never know.
“Even if recent efforts to de-escalate the conflict are fruitful, a decline in active fighting cannot be interpreted as an improvement in human rights for all Syrians. In fact, the ability of the Assad government to systematically carry out large-scale operations dedicated to torture, rape, and murder remains unhindered. Any sustainable solution to this conflict must address these ongoing atrocities
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.