Massacre of Hama (February 1982)
Genocide and A crime against Humanity
First: The crimes of the massacres in Hama.
Second: Breaching the rights of the Environment.
Third: Wide-scale Arrests and Physical Liquidation in Custody
In the memory of the 24th year since the massive massacre of Hama, and in the light of the detailed analysis of the tragedy which in the city: place, people and history, and the influence of this tragedy on Syria: the country and citizens. We (the Syrian human rights committee) have no alternative but to confirm that the Syrian regime have committed this horrible massacre preceded by determined plans and observations and the regime had the intention to commit a crime of genocide against the citizens of the city and its construction aiming to change the state of the city geographically and demographically.
Preceding the massacre the regime started to provoke practises against the citizens by killing, arresting, bombing houses and abusing the children, women and elderly this was the spark, which lead to the ignition of the bloodshed. It is not possible to accept the excuses, provided by the regime, of the clear breach to the rights of the citizens and his excuses are based on the claims that they were chasing two hundred people who had, according to the regime’s claims, deviated the regime and breached the law. It is not possible to justify massacres and mass destruction to the buildings including mosques, churches and historic places for alleged security reasons. In fact, the authorities became involved in a wide range of breaches and wild practices and killing, which are considered as ‘crimes of genocide. Syria has never witnessed anything similar to them, even during the resistance against the French colonalisation in the first half of the 20th century.
Although the massacre in February 1982 became very known worldwide, the Syrian regime committed, before this massacre, several other massacres in different places. Many of the losses were women, children and elderly. Of these massacres was the massacre on Jisr Alshaghoor, which took place on the 10th of March 1980. Some sources said that mortars bombed the city and 97 people were shot dead, after being taken from their homes, and 30 houses were demolished there. The massacres of Sarmadah which saw 40 citizens killed, and the massacre of the village Kinsafrah, which took place at the same time as the massacre of Jisr Alshaghoor. This massacre took place when the villagers asked for improved public services, one citizen was killed and 10 injured. Few months later, the massacre of Palmyra prison was committed on the 26th of June 1980, when around 1000 detainees were killed in their cells. Also the massacre in the Mashariqah neighbourhood, occurring on the morning of Eid Al-Adha, which saw 83 citizens killed after being forced out of their flats. And the massacre at the Sunday market where 42 citizens were killed and 150 were injured. Also the massacre of Al-Raqah, that killed tens of citizens who were held captive in a secondary school and burnt to death.
First: The crimes of the massacres in Hama
During the two years, 1980-1981, the city of Hama witnessed several attacks that took the lives of hundreds of religious scholars, prominent people as well as ordinary citizens. But according to eyewitnesses and corresponding reports, what happened during the massacre of February can only be named as ‘mass murder’. Over 25,000 people were murdered by the Syrian authorities, which called upon the Special Forces and defence brigades and selected brigades from the army (brigade 47 and brigade 21) with their heavy arms supported by the air forces. Thus, the city became a large military work area. The canons and rocket launchers bombed the city haphazardly for four continuous weeks, during which the city was sealed off and the citizen’s exit was not permitted.
The destroying of districts and killing of the citizens, including entire families:
During the period of mass murder, the regime killed all citizens in certain districts and wiped out entire families.
The massacre in the new Hama district:
On the 3rd day of invading the city of Hama, the Syrian regime defence brigades gathered the citizens of the ‘new Hama district’, in the football field and shot them. Then they raided the houses and killed everyone there. They robbed the people of their belongings. Some sources estimate the victims of the district to be around 1500.
The massacre in the Sooq Alshajarah district:
On the fifth day of the massacre, Sooq Alshajarah district was heavily bombed and the Syrian regime forces invaded the district and shot the young and the old in the streets and followed those who sought refuge into the mosque and killed them all. The victims were estimated to be around 160. The members of the security intelligence and the army forces killed the families of Al-Alwan, Hamood, Kojan and Al Abu Sin including their men, women and children. Some of them were shot, some were stabbed and some of them died under the remains of their bombed houses. On the same day, the regime forces also killed over 70 people, including women and children, after being gathered in AlHabashi shop that sold grain. Then the forces set fire to the shop to kill those who hadn’t died.
The massacre in Al-Bayadh district:
In front of the Muhammad AlHamid mosque in Al-Bayadh district, due to the lack of space on the vehicles which carried the detainees, the regime forces killed some detainees and threw their bodies into a waste ditch belonging to a tile factory owned by Abd Alkarim Alsaghir.
The massacre in Sooq Altaweel:
The massacre of Sooq Altaweel took place on the 7th day of the invasion, where 30 young people were killed on the roof of the market. The authorities also killed Sheikh Abdullah Al-Halaq, who was 72 years old, in front of his house and robbed him of his possessions. The security forces also shot 35 citizens after robbing their money and watches. Those citizens had been gathered in Abd-Alrazaq Alrees’s shop where they had all been killed, except for two children, age 13, who managed to escape through the shop’s loft.
The massacre in the Dabagha district:
On the same day, a group from the defence brigade killed 25 citizens after gathering them into a basement where there was a sawmill. They then burnt the place down. Also on that day, 5 people from the family of Badr were killed; what’s more the citizen Zaid Abd-Alraziq was killed with his wife and 2-year-old son. From the family of Adi a father was killed with his 3 sons and the family of Daboor were killed in Dabagha district. The citizen Muhammad Mughizel was killed with his children although he was a member of the armed Bat’th Party’s militia.
The massacre in the Bashoorah district:
In Al-Bashoorah district, the authorities killed the 11 members of the family of Muhammad Fahmi Al-Dabagh, whose ages ranged between the father who was 58 and the youngest child who was 6. The lady, Hayat Jamil Alamin and her three children, the eldest who was 11 years old, were killed in the same way. Moreover, the security members cut Hayat’s hands off in order to steal her jewellery. Afterwards the members of the regime forces went to the home of the Musa family, in the same district, and killed the entire family that consisted of 21 members, including a baby who was not mare than one and a half years old. Also in the same district, both the family of Al-Qasiah and the family of Subhi Al-Adhim, were killed. The regime forces killed Subhi Al-Adhim’s wife, who was 80 years old, and his son, who was 60 years old. They also shot 39 women and their children and also 3 men from the family of Mashnooq, only one lady survived (Intisar Saabooni). On the same day and in the same district, the massacre of the family of Al-Samsam took place, where 17 people were killed among them were women and children, only 4 people from the family survived. One of the massacres that took place in ‘Bashoorah district’ was committed against the Kilani family: 4 were killed. The massacre that took place at the mosque: Alkhanikan, the massacre of Abu Ali Altaneesh, the massacre of the Turkumani family and the massacre of the Shariah secondary school, were all committed in the Bashoorah district, the number of people killed in these massacres was over 60, and among them were many women and children. On the 9th day of the massacre, the regime’s tanks ran over the citizens who ran away to escape from the bullets, among them were the 52 year old Salih Abd Alqadir Kilani and the 21 year old Fawaz Salih Kilani.
The massacre in the Aseedah district:
And on the 11th day, the massacre of the Masri family who were shot in the Aseedah district, by the regime forces, who killed 40 of the citizens of the district. 5 days after entering Al-Dabagha district, the authorities killed 6 members of the Sahn family and robbed their home.
The massacre in the North district:
The information tells us that hundreds of civilians were killed in the North district on the 14th day of the massacre, after they hid in the basement of the buildings to escape from the savage attacks of the regime forces. Some of the worst massacres, committed in this district, were the massacre of the family of Al-Zakkar and the massacre of the family of Kamaal and the massacre of the family of Asfour.
The massacre in the East district:
On the 17th day of the massacre, the regime forces gathered the surviving people in the East district, they undressed the men in the cold weather and put them all in the mosque then they bombed it, killing everyone.
The massacre in the Baroodiah district:
On the 22nd day, the regime forces gathered over 25 members of Sheikh Uthman’s family and killed them. The information tells that the regime forces stabbed the pregnant wife, of Muhammad sheikh Uthman, in the stomach and killed her 7 children and set fire to the house.
The massacre in the New Mosque:
This massacre took place on day 25, when the regime forces took 16 civilians from the Qaraayah district and forced them to remove the robbed items from houses and the shops. After that the forces took them to the new mosque in the Morabet district where they were shot dead.
The massacre in the Sereeheyn cemetery:
This massacre is considered the worst mass murder among those that took place in Hama during February 1982, because large numbers of men, women and children were killed. It is not possible to know the exact number of victims neither their names. The regime forces fetched hundreds of civilians in groups and shot them. Then put their bodies in a large trench. One of the survivors witnessed that when his group was fetched to the place, he saw hundreds of shoes on the floor and piles of corpses in the trench. The survivor also says that some of the groups were thrown into the trench and others were left on the edge. The regime forces shot all of them, so only a few managed to escape.
The massacre in the Porcelain factory:
In the porcelain factory and under the direct orders of the army, the soldiers led thousands of men to the open space and left them without food in the cold and rain. The investigations were ended with dead bodies being thrown into the fire inside the factory.
The massacre of the blind teachers:
Some soldiers from the defence brigades broke into a school for blind students in the Mahattah area, where blind clergymen teach and live. The soldiers only found the blind teachers, most of who were above the age of 60; some of them were married and had several children. The soldiers hit the clergymen with metal chains until their heads and hands began bleeding and they started to beg the soldiers to stop. The soldiers didn’t stop hitting the poor teachers until they performed certain funny dances to please the soldiers who then burnt the teacher’s beards, threatening them either to carry on dancing or to die burning. So the blind clergymen dance, and the soldiers laugh. When the play is over the soldiers simply set fire to the clothes of the blind men. They then shoot them so the blind men fall dead and their bodies carry on burning. Some of these men who were murdered in this massacre were the Sheikh Shakeeb, who was blind, and roughly 60 years old, and the Sheikh Adeeb Kizawy, who had 9 children, and the Sheikh Ahmed Shamiah, the blind Qur’an reciter.
The massacres of the scholars:
Regarding the scholars of religion, the regime forces forced them out of their homes and killed them one after another. They started with the murder of the Grand Mufti of Hama Sheikh Bashier Almurad; his house was located in the area of ‘Baab Albalad’. The soldiers went to his house and took him out with some of his relatives. They started hitting him and rubbed his beard in the soil. They then dragged him across the ground and burnt him alive. Nine members of this family were killed, all of who were scholars of religion. The soldiers also killed the sheikh Muneer Horaany with his two sons. A few years earlier, the regime had killed his other son Raaid Horaany. The soldiers also arrested the Sheikh Abdullah Alhallaq from a refuge when he was with a group of citizens from the same district and took him to Alhadadeen market where they burnt him although he was over 80 years old. They also killed the Sheikh Abdalrahman Alkhaleel: who was a blind scholar and over 80 years old. And he lived in Alhader district. His house was burnt during the rocket launches and when he called the soldiers, who were trying to get him out, others threw a fire bomb at the house so the house collapsed and the sheikh was burnt inside it.
The massacre of the children:
At the top of the ‘8 Athaar’ street, where the Sooq Altaweel intersects it and the new mosque is, a horrible massacre took place on the 14th day from the beginning of the massacres of Hama. On that day the citizens began to go out of their houses. The soldiers ordered them to go to the bread carts that were at the top of the street. A big number of children ran towards the carts and took bread. On their way back to their homes, the soldiers stopped them and told them to go into the new mosque, and there they opened fire on them. The small bodies fell down and the blood spread over the bread, which was still in the small tender hands.
The massacre of the young girls:
The soldiers used to enter the refuges and select and take with them the young girls. After that, the parents never knew anything about them. In the public bathroom ‘Hamam Alasadia’, many young girls’ corpses were found raped and murdered.
The massacres of the national hospital:
These massacres were more horrible than then imaginable and described. Inside the hospital one of the death troops, which belonged to the defence brigades, settled continuously during all the days of the massacres. Their job was to kill the injured citizens. The situation inside the hospital was horrible; tens of dead bodies were everywhere in the corridors and in the back garden. And in some places, the dead bodies were piled upon each other, and the smell of rotten bodies was spreading. The majority of these bodies belonged to those who were sent to the hospital from the nearby school of manufacturing, which was turned into a prison, where tens of people died everyday.
The majority of the corpses were chopped, disfigured or crushed. Therefore it was difficult to identify them. Everyday, the corpses were gathered in the rubbish trucks and taken to the mass graves.
Sometimes some injured people came to the hospital, they didn’t have to wait long, as the death troops started killing and cutting the wounded bodies with knives and butcher’s knives.
Once they killed a wounded man from the Hawader district, called Sameer Qanoot, and one of the soldiers took out his heart!
Second: Breaching the rights of the Environment.
The genocide Hama witnessed did not spare anything. Intentional destruction did not spare the environment, buildings, distinctive archaeological premises and even key installations. According to some statistics, the destruction included most of the ancient districts and buildings. The following districts have been completely destroyed: “al-Aseeda”, “al-Shamaliya”, “al-Zanbaqi”, and “al-Kilaniya”. As for “Bin al-Hireen” and “al-Sakhana” districts, the destruction reached nearly 80%. In the suburbs, like the road to Aleppo, the destruction reached 30%. The destruction process took place in threes stages: random bombardment, bombardment focused on specific targets, and destruction by detonating or bulldozing buildings. In a systematic destruction, the authorities used the artillery, tanks, surface-to-surface missiles, bulldozers and explosives.
The Destruction of Places of Worship:
The Syrian authorities did not respect the sanctity of places of worship, so mosques and churches were destroyed or demolished. The number of destroyed or demolished mosques is 63, 76% of which were completely destroyed. Some of these mosques were partially or completely destroyed by artillery shelling, but most of them were destroyed completely by detonation, like ‘al-Sahrqi”, “Zawiyat al-Sharabati”, “al-Shaykh al-Kilani”, ‘al-Afandi”, “al-Shari’a”, “al-Sultan”, al-Madfan”, al-Shaykh Dakhil”, “al-Shaykh Zain”, “al-Hamidiya”, “Bilal bin Rabah”, “al-Shaykh Alwan”, “Omar bin al-Khatab”, “al-Manakh”, “al-Sarjawi”, “Sa’ad bin Muath”, Tarsim Bayk”, “al-Shaykh Marwan Hadeed”, “al-Huda”, and “alkabeer”. It had been pointed out that in the process of destroying “al-Kabeer” mosque dynamite was detonated, which caused the destruction of surrounding houses like a house and a basement for the Hafiz family, a house for the Qoushaji family, a house for the Ouda-bashi family, a house for Tahir Mostafa , a pottery shop and part of the Christian Nuns school.
The churches were also affected by the destruction. The city of Hama used to have four ancient churches at the time of the invasion. The regime forces blew up two, demolished part of the third and ransacked the fourth. These incidents coincided with the Christians’ preparations to inaugurate the new church which took 17 years to build, and the ordinary people in the city have spent a lot of money for their church to become a unique architectural masterpiece. Forces of the authority blew it up using dynamite.
The Destruction of Archaeological Buildings.
Destruction and demolition operations have wiped out most of the city’s archaeological features as well as its old districts known for their distinctive ancient architectural style. The ancient “al-Kilanyia” district is one of many areas that have been completely destroyed by bombardment, explosives and bulldozing. “Al-Kilanyia” is considered as one of Syria’s tourist attractions because it has many arts of the Ayoubi, Mamlooki, and Ottoman periods. It is also internationally recognized as an educational centre. Some of its buildings date back to (690 H, 1290 A.D.). It has several ancient palaces like “al-Hamra” which was built during the Ottoman era (1128 H, 1716 A.D.) and it was a tourist attraction in Hama. The destruction also reached religious schools (Zawaaya) like “al-Qaadiriyya”, “Sheikh Hussein al- Kilani’s “, and “Sheikh Ibrahim al- Kilani’s” mosque. “Al-Baaz Abdulqaadir al- Kilani’s water wheel” and the ancient “Sheikh bath”. Shrines and cemeteries were also destroyed, like “al-Baaz” shrine for Abdulqadir al- Kilani’s, Sheikh Yasin al- Kilani’s shrine, Sayd al-Din Yahya cemetery, Sahykh Husein al-Kilani’s cemetery, and Sheikh Ibrahim al- Kilani’s cemetery. Many palaces were also destroyed, among which are: al-Hamra palace, Fayiz al-Ali al-Kilani’s palace, Muhammad Rida al-Kilani’s palace, Said al-Abdulla al-Kilani’s palace, Faris al-Kilani’s palace, Haj Qadri al- Kilani’s palace, Ahmad Suroor al- Kilani’s palace, Muhammad Noori al- Kilani’s palace, palace of the chief of sharifs Muhammad Murtada al-Kilani’s, Saleem al-Baddee al- Kilani’s palace, Adbul-Hameed al-Abdulla al- Kilani’s palace, Muneer Abdul-Haleem al-Kilani’s palace, and Diya al-Kilani’s palace. Among the most outstanding archaeological sites destroyed in the district were “guesthouses”, like Qutb al-Deen al-Kilani’s, Badee Abdul-Razzaq al-Kilani’s, Dafir Kilani’s, Waasil Kilani’s, Rafeeq Kilani’s, Mustafa Burhan Kilani’s, Raghib Kilani’s, and Faiz Burhan Kilani’s. “Archaeological basements” of the following were destroyed: al-Keelaniya, al-Tayaara, al-Qaadiriya religious school, al-Shaykh Bath, and Baab al-Khooja. Archaeological stables for Arabian horses and traditional stores and shops for making Bedouin tents were also destroyed.
The Destruction of Houses, Stores and Public Facilities.
Military and intentional destruction operations caused considerable damage to houses and public installations and made tens of thousands of the city inhabitant’s homeless and lacking basic services. As mentioned earlier, many districts were completely destroyed while some others 80% destroyed. No Street in the city escaped partial or complete destruction so much so that all the city streets became uninhabitable.
According to some sources, the number of documented destroyed houses in “al-Shimaaliya” district exceeded 225 and in “al-Kilaniya” 120. The number of destroyed houses in other areas is 20 -100; in addition to the houses whose inhabitants have not been documented. The same sources documented the names of owners of clinics, pharmacies and stores which have been robbed, burnt, and partially or completely destroyed, among which are 40 clinics, and more than 500 store, agency, establishment, factory and professional shops for producing merchandise and offering services.
Statistics show that most schools in the city were destroyed or damaged. Some schools were completely destroyed by explosives like (Alafaaf school, Alzayniyya school, Shari ‘a high school, Alrawda school, Zanoobya school, Alnassari school, Shari’a school for girls, Almahmmadiya Shari’a school, and other Kilani schools). Some other schools were partially destroyed by shelling, like (Omar Bin AlKhattaab School, Mustafa Ashoor School, Said Alaas School, Shajar Aldur School, Gharnata high school for girls, Badr al-Fatwa nursery, al-Anaadil nursery, al-Buhtury school, Bassam Hamshu preparatory school, college of veterinary medicine, Uthman al-Hurani high school)
Looting private and public properties
Military operations, genocide and the destruction of areas and archaeological sites witnessed wide-scale looting of private properties, house contents, commercial shops and even public facilities. Looting operations included robbing the National Museum of Hama of all its contents, which were worth then millions of Syrian Pounds. In addition, some sources say that elements of the regime were involved in stealing all goods of state co-operatives and selling them in low prices. Elements of the regime also stole deposits in the Syrian Commercial Bank. They also robbed the General Postal Savings Establishment located near the castle. According to some sources, the regime forces transported loads, which filled 60 army trucks from the ‘Zeel’ make, and that was from Sooq Altaweel, which consisted of 380 shops. Many witnesses said that the regime forces robbed the houses and the possessions of the citizens such as jewellery and expensive things during the raid of the city.
Third: Wide-scale Arrests and Physical Liquidation in Custody
The breach of the human rights of the detainees committed by the Syrian regime, during the massacre of Hama in 1982, is horrible beyond imagination and description. The regime authorities arrested tens of thousands of citizens randomly. All citizens are accused and liable to arrest and subject to torture and in some cases deliberate murder. Thus many citizens have been killed while under arrest. Until this day thousands of detainees are missing and no one knows anything about them, neither the authorities have given any information about their cases even after 24 years since the massacre. Among the arrested were the scholars, clergymen, doctors, chemists, engineers, technicians, teachers, traders, craftsmen, farmers, and all stages of the society including women. Tens of women were arrested and were subject to torture and death during their time in prison. Some of those women were killed in their houses due to bombing or shooting, and some were killed under torture and others were killed while helping the injured people who were hurt during the bombing and destruction, an example is Um Hassan Dabesh and Aisha Dabesh and Khadijah Dabesh.
Some information tells that many detainees were killed even after the armed operations. On the morning of Friday 26th February, the regime forces started a wide range of arrests. And after the investigations were completed, a group of them were driven to unknown destination; some sources estimate the number of this group to be around 1500 detainees, among them was the Mufti of the city and the head of the scholar society and a number of clergymen and no information was received regarding what happen