On Wednesday, the Syrian government ordered the relocation of 11 prisoners from the Hama Central Prison, Central Syria, to the Sednaya Military Prison in the Rif Dimashq governorate, Southern Syria, to execute them.
The lawyer and human rights activist Abdulnaser Houshan said that the prisoners with death sentences are civilians whom the Syrian government arrested on the background of participating in demonstrations. Houshan added that the Syrian government issued death sentences against the prisoners in 2016, but their execution was postponed because they and other prisoners protested against the sentences.
Houshan added that the 11 prisoners’ case folders are part of a collection of 20 case folders. The Field Military Court, which the Syrian government established during the Syrian Revolution, sentenced 11 out of the 20 prisoners to death, whereas the remaining nine prisoners received hard labor sentences for life.
Houshan noted that they learned about the executions by contacting prisoners in the Central Hama Prison who reported that the military judge Firas Dunya ordered the relocation of the death sentence prisoners to the Sednaya Military Prison. The Administration of the Central Hama Prison informed the prisoners of the orders.
In May 2016, prisoners of the Hama Central Prison organized a sit-in to demand the Syrian government to cancel the death sentences. The protesters took over the prison and held Syrian government forces members hostage to put pressure on the Syrian government to cancel the death sentences.
Nour al-Khateeb, the manager of the Women and Prisoners’ Department in the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said that they are still verifying the validity of summoning the prisoners for execution. Al-Khateeb added, “It seems that the execution is underway.”
Fahd al-Musa, the manager of the Syrian Committee for Releasing Prisoners, published a statement saying that the judge Dunya ordered the relocation of the prisoners during a visit to the Central Hama Prison a week ago. Musa added that Dunya gave the Hama prison administration a list of the death sentence prisoners’ names with the word “postponed” next to each name. The committee noted that the word “postponed” means that the time of the execution has come.
The committee called upon the United Nations and concerned parties to take action to save the lives of the prisoners. The committee also called for the prevention of their relocation and instead submitting the names of Syrian government officials responsible for violations and crimes against humanity and genocide against prisoners to national and international criminal courts.
On February 7, 2018, the Amnesty International published a report titled “Human Slaughterhouse,” which revealed that the Syrian government forces have hanged 13,000 prisoners in the Sednaya Military Prison, most of whom were civilians opposing the Syrian government.