22 February 2018

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09/06/2011 SYRIA

Red Cross visits Syrian prison

For ICRC Chairman Kellenberger, it is a first step. No details about the visit have been made public, including by the official media. Amnesty International has reported the death of at least 88 inmates, including ten children, arrested during anti-government demonstrations. Arab League secretary arrives tomorrow for a visit.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – The International Red Cross (ICRC) has been allowed to visit a Syrian prison for the first time since concerns emerged over the treatment of inmates by the Syrian regime.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger said he visited Damascus central prison in Adra suburb on Sunday, and held talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Monday (pictured).

The ICRC had been asking for access to detainees for several months, following accusations of torture and humiliations against people arrested for participating in demonstrations organised by the anti-Assad opposition. Syrian authorities agreed to a visit only a few days ago.

A report by Amnesty International released last week said that at least 88 Syrian detainees, including ten children, had died in the past five months after enduring violence and torture, including burns, electric shocks, beatings and other forms of abuse. All the people who died had been arrested for participating in anti-government protests.

Despite limits set by Syrian authorities, Kellenberger said he was satisfied with the visit as a first step for more to come.

The local office of the International Red Cross did not release any details about the visit to avoid limits to future access. The final report will be available at ICRC headquarters, in Geneva, but it is not clear whether it will be made public or not.

Syrian state-owned news agency SANA did not report the visit, but only noted the meeting between the ICRC chairman and the Syrian president, Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem and the minister of state responsible for the Syrian Red Crescent Society, Joseph Sweid, one of the cabinet’s two “Catholic” ministers, and a member of one of the two “official” Communist parties.

The Syrian government is increasingly criticised for its repression of opposition demonstrations seeking Assad’s overthrow.

Arab League Secretary Nabil El-Arabi travels to Damascus tomorrow. He is expected to tell Assad about growing concerns in the Arab world over the ongoing crackdown.

See also

22/11/2004 EGYPT – IRAQ
The world comes together over Iraq
International conference begins. Elections and security are top on the agenda.

16/01/2012 SYRIA
Assad offers amnesty, Arab League discusses military intervention
The act of clemency would apply to crimes committed during the ten months of unrest, and to deserters. Qatar sheikh calls for Arab troops deployment to the country to the stop the killing. He had taken the initiative against Gaddafi in Libya.

10/07/2007 SYRIA – LEBANON
Signs of progress and reconciliation in Lebanon, says Amr Moussa
Arab League chief, who met Syrian President Assad after meeting Saudi King Abdullah, says he is committed to solving a crisis he calls “dangerous.” But Syrian words of good will are accompanied by rising signs of tension.

07/09/2011 SYRIA
Syria’s no to Arab League imperils pan-Arabism
By postponing the visit of the Arab League secretary, Damascus could undermine its own power. Could Arab forces act against it?

09/11/2011 SYRIA
Death toll from crackdown hits 3,550, UN says
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reports latest casualty figures. Arab League meets opposition officials and prepares emergency meeting, prompted by "the continuation of violence and because the Syrian government did not implement its commitments in the Arab plan to resolve the Syrian crisis". The city of Homs endures sixth day of siege, with more than 110 people dead. Food, water and medicines are in short supply.

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