Syrian opposition urges probe into torture charges

22nd January 2014, Comments 0 comments

The Syrian opposition on Wednesday called for an international inquiry into allegations of mass torture and killings of people detained by the regime.

"We have to stop this spiral of violence. We do call for an international inspection to visit places of detention and see the facts of torture that our citizens face every day," Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba told the end of the first day of a peace conference in Switzerland.

"We must work together for a Syria, which will be a pluralist country excluding no-one, not excluding any ethnicity Alawites, Druze, Christians and others," Jarba told world leaders gathered in the Swiss city of Montreux.

"We have suffered enough from the murders, the bombardments and this bloodshed has continued for far too long."

He was speaking after the publication of a report alleging the "industrial-scale" torture and murder of 11,000 detainees by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The report put together by a British law firm and commissioned by Qatar -- which backs the Syrian rebels -- says there is "clear evidence" of the starvation, strangulation and beating of detainees in Syrian prison.

It is based on forensic analysis of a portion of 55,000 digital images smuggled out of Syria by a defector who said he served as a police photographer, documenting as many as 50 bodies a day.

The photos in the report are gruesome, showing emaciated and seriously injured detainees.

Syria denies torturing detainees.

But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that the report "offers further evidence of the systematic violence and brutality being visited upon the people of Syria by the Assad regime".

Jarba urged the leaders: "We have to open the way to negotiations to put an end to the drama being faced by Syrian people and we have to ensure that very soon we'll have a state of law based on equality between all citizens in Syria, without any discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity."

The talks will now move to Geneva on Friday, when the Syrian regime and the opposition are due to begin closed-door talks with the United States, the United Nations and Russia acting as mediators.

© 2014 AFP

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