The Civil Status Director in Syria, Ahmed Rihal, revealed that 100,000 deaths had been recorded since 2017, but did not reveal the causes of these deaths. The cause of death is supposed to be included on the official death certificate. The regime has been the death certificates of prisoners who died while being tortured to record departments, without listing the cause of death.
Rihal told Al-Watan newspaper, which supports the Assad regime, that the Civil Status Directorate had recorded 32,000 deaths during 2018 and 68,000 in 2017 without specifying the cause of death. He said that the Civil Status had recorded the deaths based documents coming from regime departments, and said that when they were recorded specific details on the fate of the individual is not mentioned.
Rihal did not clarify why the cause of death had not been specified, but the families of Syrian prisoners have said that record departments in regime areas have released lists of names, which included the names of their imprisoned children, but added that the death certificates had not specified the cause of death.
Prisoner’s families claim that the regime does not want to be held accountably for the crimes that have been committed against prisoners, so has omitted that fact that deaths occurred during torture.The admission of this would open the doors to the regime being held accountable in international courts.
Prisoners of the regime and its security branches are subjected to the worst forms of torture, which often result in death.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights estimates the number of prisoners in regime prisons at about 80,000 people. The Director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Fadal Abdel Ghani has previously said: “The regime has refrained from giving information about prisoners and was not announcing their deaths. Now they are still doing this, but in a barbaric fashion.”
With the regime sending out lists of prisoners who died under torture, families are drowned in a whirlpool of worry and doubt. Family members spend their time going between security branches and spending their savings to garner information about the place where their children are held or even if they are still alive.
The Syrian lawyer Noura Ghazim, a member of the “Families for Peace” opposition movement, said that “confirming doubts is not enough.” She added: “We have been informed of their deaths. But we want to know where their bodies are being held. We want to know the real reason they died.”
After years of searching and strenuous waiting, Ghazi, who lives in Beirut, said that “people in Syria are exhausted. Of course there is a state of denial. There are doubters who say, why should we believe this document is real? And is the date is correct?”
The regime has prevented the families of prisoners whose deaths have been confirmed from holding funerals and has threatened families with arrest if they do so.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.