The primary witness of the leaked photos of the victims of torture in Syria file, also known as Caesar, presented his witness statement in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Congress, today.
Caesar, whose face was covered, said that he worked as a photographer with the Syrian army, although his work turned into that of photographing the corpses of victims of torture of the Security branches, and storing them on a protected computer.
He also mentioned that the corpses were brought from a military hospital. At the beginning of the uprisings around 5-10 would come in daily, with the number soaring to 50-60 in later months. He also said that the corpses bore serial numbers pasted on the bodies of the victims, and that many of them looked like skeletons due to having died of starvation.
He also added that the photos he displayed were of tens of thousands of victims that had died and could not be brought back to life. However, there are at the very least 100,000 detainees that remain in Assad prisons and who can be saved.
The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Edward Royce, commented that, “the barbarity of Assad, as we know, depends on the strength of the military and others types of support received from Russia, Iran and Hizbollah”, pointing out that, “Syria is not only a humanitarian challenge, but a strategic one, because Assad has dragged the whole area into chaos.”
During the session, photos leaked by Caesar were displayed, some of which revealed the corpses of women, men, children and the elderly that were tortured to death, and some of whom had their eyes plucked out, or whose bodies bore signs of burns, as well as others that had been starved so that their rib cages were clearly visible.
The Foreign Affairs Committee concluded with recommendations to the government of the United States of America, that it should, “urge the Syrian government and the other groups participating in the war to immediately cease fire and participate in negotiations to stop the flow of blood, and that all war criminals should be investigated and tried at court. The United States should also use its vote to support the formation of a specialised court for the investigation of war crimes in Syria, and the US should gather information which will help this special court in trying any individual that has been implicated in war crimes in Syria.”
Although the recommendations of the House of Representatives is not binding, this move will help in raising awareness of what is happening on a humanitarian level in the Syrian crisis, and will place pressure for more assistance to be provided to the Syrian opposition.
SHRC welcomes the move made by the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Congress in listening to the witness of Caesar and displaying some of the photos he took, and consequently calls upon the American Congress to take serious steps towards bringing war criminals to justice and not allowing them to escape punishment- as they have done in the past three years and a half due to the meagre steps taken by the international community, and especially the US.
The American administration has previously shown inconsistency and lack of commitment in following up its statements, especially in its retreat from holding the Assad regime to account after the chemical massacre committed in the Eastern Ghouta on 21/8/2013.
SHRC also calls upon the rest of the international community to fulfil its responsibility in bringing war criminals to court, instead of striving to provide them with a clean escape!
Syrian Human Rights Committee