Amnesty International has just produced a report on mass executions in a Syrian prison. It has received a lot of publicity and can be downloaded from Human slaughterhouse: Mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya prison, Syria.
The trouble with reports like this is that they can be based on limited evidence – yet once published they become evidence themselves. From now on people will cite this report as “evidence” for mass atrocities in Syria, despite the fact the report contains only a small amount of evidence, mostly hearsay from opposition sources, and extrapolates freely to produce very large numbers.
I agree – where there is smoke these is usually a fire. And I do not believe Syria has been exempt from human rights problems. But, then again, what country – inducing those claiming to be bastions of democracy – are really exempt from human rights abuses? And do the human rights violations in secular Syria occur so frequently or unjustly as in neighbouring Gulf states like the theocratic Saudi Arabia?
Anyway, download and read the report if you are interested. I have. But I have also looked for critiques of the report.
I think the above interview with the Syrian President provides some response to the Amnesty report. His specific comments on the report occur from about 13 minutes on – but the whole interview is very interesting. Because of his views on the Syrian conflict and its possible solutions. But also in his refusal to interfere in the internal affairs of the US by taking sides in domestic disputes.
Perhaps we could all learn something from his attitude.