Sednaya takes the form of three intersecting rectangular wings, each with three tiers, radiating from a central building, known as ‘the gun,’ with the overall shape of the complex rather resembling the Mercedes Benz symbol. It is surrounded by high observation towers manned by heavily armed guards. Each wing of the prison has three storeys, each consisting of twenty 6m x 2m dormitory-style cells, ten on the left and ten on the right of each level.
Each dormitory cell has a basic toilet, shower and air vent. While the dormitories were each intended to hold between eight to 20 prisoners at any one time, the average number detained in each one is at least 70 and usually more…
In the basement of the buildings are the prison ‘canteen’ and bathrooms which prisoners do not have access to, while two further sub-basement levels house isolation cells and torture facilities. Even the tiny, narrow isolation cells, which kept in absolute darkness and were built to house only one prisoner at a time, routinely hold more than eight detainees simultaneously.
An adjacent prison building, ‘the white building,’ constructed in the 1990s, currently houses around 6,000 regime prisoners – those regime officials and soldiers tried in military or criminal courts. This is, as the name suggests, a white building, which is surrounded by three high walls and barbed wire. As with the rest of the prison complex, the area around it is mined with anti-personnel mines and landmines to further avert any attempted rescue efforts or escapes.
The prison complex is protected externally by personnel from the regime’s Third Battalion, who are equipped with numerous weapons and armored personnel carriers, while the interior is patrolled by heavily armed personnel from the regime military intelligence service’s police force. These personnel’s arsenal was further reinforced with tanks and armored personnel carriers following a brutally repressed attempted uprising in 2008.
According to one prison officer speaking on condition of anonymity, the prison personnel are under orders, in the event of an attack on the facility by the FSA, to withdraw to the prison’s exceptionally well-stocked and fortified ammunition depot, at which point the prison will be subjected to aerial and ground bombardment by Assad’s forces. The regime apparently prefers to destroy the prison and kill everyone inside it to allowing it to be taken over, fearing that any investigation might reveal the depths of the regime’s depravity there…
Number of detainees
Since the revolution first began with peaceful protests in mid-March 2011, regime forces have sharply increased their campaigns of arbitrary arrests against activists (including women and children), with the number of detainees imprisoned in Sednaya rising daily. Based on the testimonies and documents seen by the Syrian Association for the Defence of Human Rights, only four of the current inmates are classified as dangerous, with the vast majority of detainees – currently numbering approximately 8,000 and including many women and children – arrested simply for voicing opposition to the regime and subjected to kangaroo trials staged by the regime’s military courts before receiving sentences varying from years of imprisonment to execution…
Conditions in Sednaya
The abuse of detainees in Sednaya begins on their arrival, when the buses bringing the new inmates in are greeted by what prison personnel refer to sarcastically by a ‘welcoming committee’ of military police, who beat the disembarking prisoners with batons and metal bars as they enter the prison building while screaming foul verbal abuse at them.
The new prisoners are first stripped of all their personal possessions before being packed into overcrowded dormitory cells, often for at least a month as a form of psychological torture. Physical torture is routine from the beginning, with the overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and lack of food leading to widespread malnutrition and disease. Many are randomly selected prisoners are subjected to whipping with electrical cable…
The regime official in charge of torture in Sednaya is First Lieutenant Fadi Suleiman, who has personally supervised and participated in many torture sessions in which detainees have been killed…
Common torture methods in Sednaya…
Since the beginning of 2012, the number of executions carried out at the prison has increased as a result of the regime introducing many more ‘capital offences’ and the military courts handing down the death penalty for even the most minor offences, with the prison administration carrying out mass executions of prisoners at midnight on Mondays and Thursdays every week.
Between April 6 and April 13, 2013, the Syrian Association for the Defence of Human Rights documented 480 such executions, with former detainees and nearby residents reporting seeing massive fires near the prison shortly afterwards, accompanied by large amounts of smoke and the distinctive smell of bodies being burnt. A regime insider confirmed that bodies are burnt, with the remains being taken to unknown destinations for disposal.
One former prison officer said that he saw 40 detainees being executed in mass strangulations on two occasions on a Monday and Thursday, adding that these mass executions take place under the supervision and direct orders of the prison director, the senior military prosecutor and often the Grand Mufti of Damascus.
One recently released detainee gave harrowing testimony to the Syrian Association for the Defence of Human Rights, in which he asserted that the regime has recently stepped up the rate of these executions, which he said now take place on a nightly basis. The former detainee said that the executions take place at midnight under the supervision of the prisoner director and a number of senior officers, as well as the chief military prosecutor Mohammed Kengo and the president of the military court, Mohammed Harouf. Even more disturbingly, he said that prison personnel force many of the detainees sentenced to death to attend the executions as an additional form of psychological torture while they await their own execution, causing a number to break down completely.
While the prison also uses traditional hanging methods, the prison authorities have recently introduced other execution methods of unsurpassed savagery…
Source – Wikipedia
For the complete report – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sednaya_Prison