Dear Friends for Life: In Syria, massive and systematised violence – including the killing of detainees in official and makeshift detention centres – is taking place out of sight, far from the battlefield.
The latest report, “Out of sight, out of mind: Deaths in detention in the Syrian Arab Republic”, released recently by The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, is based on 621 interviews, as well as extensive documentary material, and examines the killing and unimaginable abuses of detainees.
The UN Commission explains how Syrian civilians are arrested, unlawfully detained, or taken hostage. Eyewitness accounts and documentary evidence suggest that tens of thousands of people are detained at any one time. Poor conditions in detention centers are exposing prisoners to life-threatening situations and resulting in mass deaths.
The UN Commission determines that the Government of Syria has further committed crimes of murder, rape, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts. These violations constitute war crimes since the acts were committed after the start of the armed conflict.
The same violations are committed by Anti-Government armed groups, terrorist groups, Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whereby both Government soldiers and civilians are held under brutal conditions in makeshift places of detention.
“The situation of detainees in Syria is critical, and represents an urgent and large-scale crisis of human rights protection,” stated Commissioner Vitit Muntarbhorn. “With thousands of persons still in custody, urgent steps need to be taken by the Syrian Government, armed groups, and the wider international community to prevent further deaths”.
Pope Francis has called for an “urgent” end to the Syrian civil war on a number of occasions. He condemns the “ocean of pain” engulfing Syria and its people.
In the name of Jesus, who came into the world to heal the wounds of humanity, the Church feels called to respond to evil with good by promoting an integral human development of “each man and of the whole man” (Populorum Progressio, n. 14). To answer this difficult call, Catholics must strengthen the intra-ecclesial collaboration and the bonds of communion, which unite them with other Christian communities, seeking also cooperation with international humanitarian institutions and with all men of good will. I encourage you, therefore, to continue on the path of cooperation and sharing, and working together and in synergy. Please: do not abandon the victims of this crisis, even if the world’s attention were to lessen.
“There is the judgment of God, and also the judgment of history, upon our actions,” he said, “from which there is no escaping.”
Jerry Novotny, OMI
For more, view Catholic ProLife Website: “Clear Thinking about crucial issues” by Fr. Jerry