May 15, 2012 (AFP)
Prominent leftist Palestinian writer Salameh Kaileh, freed recently after being arrested in Syria last month, was tortured during his detention, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
The Britain-based watchdog distributed several photographs showing large bruises and burn marks on Kaileh’s arms and legs.
It accused security forces of employing “extreme brutality” to “intimidate and break the will of” detainees, saying Kaileh is but one of many examples of tortured prisoners.
The Observatory denounced the “systematic policy of torture,” which has led to “the death of a large number of detainees” and called for the formation of investigation commissions.
The 57-year-old writer, born in Birzeit, West Bank, is a well-known writer who has written books on subjects ranging from Marxism to Arab nationalism. Kaileh was imprisoned by the Syrian government in the 1990s for eight years.
A number of human rights organizations have denounced the “systematic torture” of detainees in Syria, including Amnesty International. In a report based on the testimony of refugees now living in Jordan, Amnesty asserted that “the extent of torture and abuse in Syria has reached a level not seen in years, and which evokes the dark era of the 1970s and 1980s.”
Damascus recently refused to provide a report on torture to the U.N. Committee against Torture, which has also expressed its concern at “numerous” reports of widespread abuses, even prior to the revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
According to the Observatory, more than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the uprising began on March 15 last year, while around 25,000 people are being held in detention.