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Syria

    March 15, 2017

    "I was beaten with cables and told to kneel before a picture of Bashar Al-Assad."
    Former detainee Abu al-Najem

    Six years of crisis in Syria, which began after anti-government protests erupted in March 2011, have been marred by horror and bloodshed. Parties to the conflict continued to commit human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. To date, victims have seen no justice. Syrian government forces, with the support of Russia, have attacked and bombed civilians, killing and injuring thousands; maintained lengthy sieges on civilian areas; subjected tens of thousands to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions; and systematically tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees causing countless deaths in custody. Armed groups have indiscriminately shelled and besieged predominately civilian areas, and committed abductions, torture and summary killings.

    Today, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights abuses continue in Syria. These crimes should not go unpunished. Victims and their families have the right to truth, reparation, and justice.

    August 18, 2016

    Peaceful activist Hussam (not his real name) survived 20 months in Saydnaya, one of Syria’s most brutal prisons. Now held elsewhere, he wrote this letter in an attempt to describe the “daily hell” he experienced.

    To whomever it may concern:

    What I tell you is not fiction or a request for sympathy.

    From our dark basements hidden from the sun, we raise our voices and search for an echo. We call you to halt the bleeding of life from the young men and women of Syria. Halt the fire that consumes their youth in the prisons and detention centres of President al-Assad.

    They do not belong here. They are not born just to be a piece of paper in the hands of al-Assad and his dictatorial regime, or timber in the fire which he burns with hatred and lust for revenge – just because we dreamed of a dignified nation that safeguards our rights.

    September 08, 2015
    Refugees in the region

    More than 4 million refugees from Syria (95%) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

    Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide Iraq where 3 million people have been internally displaced in the last 18 months hosts 249,463 refugees from Syria Egypt hosts 132,375 refugees from Syria The UN humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is just 40% funded.

    Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just $13.50 per month or less than half a dollar a day for food assistance.

    More than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan living below the local poverty line.

    Conflict in Syria

    Around 220,000 people have been killed and 12.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria

    September 04, 2015

    By Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International. Follow Gauri on Twitter @GaurivanGulik.

    A solemn moment of silence. The world over, this is the traditional response when lives are cut short by tragedy.

    It has also been a common response to tragedies in Europe and off its shores which have ended the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants. Not killed by bombs in Syria, but killed while making terrifying journeys in search of safety and better lives in Europe.

    But the scale and rapid succession of these tragedies calls for breaking the silence.

    In the space of a week, along with people across the world, I recoiled in horror as four new tragedies added to a growing list of events that have already brought a record number of refugees and migrants to untimely deaths this year. According to UNHCR, 2,500 have already perished en route to Europe since 1 January 2015.

    On 26 August, 52 bodies were found inside the hull of a ship about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Libya.

    September 09, 2014

     

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
    - September 8, 2014, from Guadalajara, Mexico

    UPDATE: Ángel Colon was released in October 2014! He's now struggling for justice in his case and speaking out against torture in Mexico. Take Action >> Stand with Angel. 
     

    The prison we were about to visit loomed large and intimidating     Watch video of Angel Colon

    It had been a two and a half hour drive from Guadalajara. As we approached, the ominously named prison, CEFERESO Number 4, the Federal Centre for Social Rehabilitation, loomed large and intimidating at the bottom of one last hill.

    We spent the next hour going through the most extensive series of endless security checks I’ve been through in any prison visit, anywhere. It included a stamp on our forearms which only showed up under a special light, which we had to show again on our way out to demonstrate that none of us had stayed behind and allowed a prisoner to slip out in our place. There was, in fact, far more visible security than I have experienced on any of the visits I’ve made to the US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    August 29, 2014
    Peaceful activist Mohamed Bachir Arab has been missing since 2 November 2011© Private

    The last time Rania (not her real name) spoke to her friend Mohamed Bachir Arab, was on 1 November 2011. As a hard working doctor and committed political activist, Mohamed had been living in hiding for six months, trying to evade the ever present tentacles of the Syrian intelligence forces, who routinely detain peaceful activists like him.

    The following day her worst fears were realized. A strap line on the evening news announced he had been arrested. None of his relatives knew where he had been taken.

    Mohamed was a marked man. He had been a student leader at his university in the city of Aleppo, in north-west Syria. Over the years, he had organized a number of protests against government policies, which had landed him in trouble with the authorities. Between 2004 and 2005 he was detained for several months before being released.

    But this time, his relatives and colleagues feared it was different. Since the crisis in Syria began in March 2011, the number of individuals who have been detained in secret by the state – or forcibly disappeared – has spiralled out of control.

    February 14, 2013

    by Conor Fortune

    Syrian activist Bassam Ahmed Al-Ahmed recalls his time as a detainee alongside his friend, doctor Ayham Mustafa Ghazoul, whose family was recently informed of his death while in the custody of Syrian security forces in November 2012. Both men were among a group of people detained in a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression on 16 February 2012.

    What more can I say about Ayham than that he was a human being before anything else?

    What was most striking to me about him was that he was so self-sacrificing and strongly believed that every person should give up what’s most precious to them – their work, their studies, or even a lover or family members – for this revolution.

    He was a very peaceful person who would always say, “Don’t carry a weapon, just go protest and if you die, you die a martyr”.

    When they arrested us last February and brought us to the Air Force Intelligence we were all too scared to get off the bus.

    They called out for Mazen Darwish, the director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.

    September 06, 2013

    By Maha Abu Shama, Syria campaigner at Amnesty's International Secretariat

    “We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.

    Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah – who lives in the Jordanian capital Amman – complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls. 

    “I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.

    September 13, 2013

    By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Researcher

    As the threat of military intervention looms over an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus, in a far flung corner of Syria the town of Deir Ezzour offers an insight into the suffering of ordinary Syrians.

    September 10, 2013

    By Refugee and Migrants Campaigner Gloria Nafziger and Secretary General Alex Neve

    With over 2 million Syrian refugees having fled to neighbouring countries and well over 4 million Syrians internally displaced within the country, the crisis of displacement that has resulted from the massive human rights violations in Syria over the past 2 ½ years has been termed the gravest humanitarian emergency the world has faced in years. In the face of such a massive crisis, it is vital that Canada play a leadership role in ensuring a strong and effective global response to the pressing needs of displaced Syrians.

    February 10, 2014
    Like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal

    By Khairunissa Dhala, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International

    When Khalil, 26, entered Lebanon having escaped the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria, he thought his life would finally improve.

    But one night, he was lured into a meeting with two men. He says they raped him, stole money from his wallet and his mobile phone.

    Khalil never reported the alleged rape to the police. He is a refugee, and he is also gay. He feared he would be penalized, and that no one would care about what had happened to him.

    Since then, he has tried to commit suicide – a friend found him and took him to hospital.

    Although Lebanon is often perceived as more tolerant than most countries in the region, like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal. The country’s lesbian gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) community is growing in prominence but the issue is still a taboo.

    As one of the nearly one million refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Khalil claims to suffer daily discrimination on the basis of his nationality. But as a gay man he faces further hardship.