BEIRUT: Torture, flogging and summary executions are rife in secret prisons run by the extremist movement the Islamic State of Iraq Greater Syria (ISIS), states a report by Amnesty International issued Wednesday. The 18-page briefing, entitled “Rule of fear: ISIS abuses in detention in northern Syria,” details conditions in seven detention facilities opened by the jihadists in the provinces of Aleppo and Raqqa.
“Those abducted and detained by ISIS include children as young as 8 who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The report features testimony by former detainees, who describe a shocking catalogue of abuses in which they or others were flogged with rubber generator belts or cables, tortured with electric shock, or forced to adopt a painful stress position known as the “scorpion,” in which a detainee’s wrists are secured together over one shoulder.
Detainees in the ISIS-run prison include those held for petty crimes such as theft, as well as “crimes” against Islam, which in the group’s view range from sex outside marriage to smoking.
The group is believed to hold opponents to its hard-line rule or those belonging to other rebel groups.
Amnesty said children were among the detainees who had been punished with severe flogging. A father was forced to hear his son’s screams of pain as ISIS militants tortured him in a nearby room, according to the report. A child of about 14 was flogged repeatedly over several days, after being accused of stealing a motorcycle.
“Flogging anyone, let alone children, is cruel and inhuman, and a gross abuse of human rights,” Luther said. “ISIS should cease its use of flogging and other cruel punishments.”
The report identified ISIS prisons in seven locations: three in the city of Raqqa, two in the province of Raqqa, and two in Aleppo.
It said the Sadd al-Baath prison was located near a dam on the Euphrates River at Al-Mansura, where the local Shariah court judge, who would appear wearing an explosives belt, had “instituted a reign of terror” over detainees.
Some former detainees accused the judge of presiding over trials lasting no longer than a few minutes, and said he took part in the flogging.
“After years in which they were prey to the brutality of the Assad regime, the people of Raqqa and Aleppo are now suffering under a new form of tyranny imposed on them by ISIS, in which arbitrary detention, torture and executions have become the order of the day,” Luther said.
He urged Ankara to prevent Turkish territory from being used by ISIS to bring in arms and recruits to Syria, adding that Gulf states should also help prevent the hard-line jihadists from receiving arms, equipment or other support.