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While Syria seeks to believe that the return to the country is safe, an Amnesty International report denounces cases of torture with sexual violence on sixty Syrian refugees who returned between 2017 and 2021, including 13 children. Some of them came from France and Germany, according to the NGO.
Torture, rape, arbitrary arrests: dozens of Syrian refugees who had to return to their country were victims of abuses perpetrated by the security services of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, alerted the NGO Amnesty International on Tuesday (September 7th).
In a new report, the organization calls on countries hosting Syrian refugees, calling on Western governments not to impose on them a “forced” return to Syria.
In the cases documented by Amnesty, there are refugees from France, Germany, Turkey, Jordan or the United Arab Emirates, according to a non-exhaustive list drawn up by Amnesty.
The NGO reviewed “horrific violations” perpetrated against 66 refugees, including 13 children, who returned to their country between 2017 and spring 2021.
Sexual violence against children
Security services “subjected women, children and men (…) to illegal and arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, including rape and sexual violence”, sometimes against children, Amnesty sums up. international in its report entitled “You are going to your death”.
Among the cases listed, five people died in detention while the fate of 17 others, victims of enforced disappearances, is unknown, assures Amnesty, which also refers to “14 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by the security forces, including seven rapes conducted against five women, a teenager and a five-year-old girl “.
According to the NGO, these refugees are accused of “treason” or “terrorism” by their torturers, according to the terminology of the regime which does not distinguish between political opponents, armed rebels and jihadists.
“They undressed my daughter. They handcuffed her and hung her on the wall.”
The report quotes Alaa’s testimony. Together with her 25-year-old daughter, they were arrested at the border with Lebanon and detained for five days.
“They undressed my daughter. They handcuffed her and hung her on the wall. They beat her. She was totally naked. One of them put his penis in her mouth,” Alaa said.
European countries such as Denmark and Sweden are also “putting pressure on Syrian refugees to return”, the NGO believes that the testimonies collected “are proof that nowhere in Syria is there (sufficient) security for to return”.
Syria seeks to make it seem safe to return home
With the war started in 2011, 6.6 million Syrians took refuge abroad, settling the overwhelming majority in neighboring countries, notably Turkey and Lebanon.
After having chained the reconquests thanks to the military support of Moscow and Tehran, and while the fighting has waned in intensity, the Damascus regime seeks to promote the image of a safe Syria, encouraging the return of refugees.
Several initiatives, carried out with neighboring Lebanon or sponsored by the Russian ally, have sought to organize these returns, despite repeated warnings from NGOs.