The Assyrian Human Rights Network has documented 33 detention cases of Assyrian citizens since March 2013.
The group said it wants to focus on these cases, despite being limited in comparison to the mass violation of human rights in Syria, for three reasons:
The effect of these violations on the small minorities like the Syriac Assyrians is huge; it threatens the existence of these minorities, especially because of the panic that spreads among them during a crisis or major upheavals.
Secondly, revealing these violations will help in stopping their spread and repetition, especially because these violations are related to the inhuman treatment practiced by the Syrian authorities against the Syrian detainees.
Thirdly, human rights organizations have ended to relatively ignore minorities among the Syrian people, so this report is considered the first of its kind, dedicated to the Syriac Assyrians detainees in Syria.
The Assyrians were subjected to arbitrary arrest, physical and psychological torture, threats of killing and sexual abuse, as prison guards forced some of the detainees to take off all of their clothes for long periods of time in order to humiliate them and terrify them.
According to the testimonies of some Assyrian detainees, it was noticeable in many cases that the Syrian authorities have used both religious and sectarian issues in the interrogation process. Authorities considered that the religion of the detainee as an additional reason to treat them badly, as investigators have expressed astonishment towards the participation of Christians in demonstrations demanding freedom.
"How can Christians participate in a demonstration which starts from a mosque, led by Islamists and separatists and armed groups? The Christians owe this regime which protects the minorities, and the Christian who participates in a demonstration is a traitor, and the regime ignores some Christian dissidents because it wants to protect them," the guards and investigators would say, according to the testimonies of detainees.
Detention under poor conditions is considered a kind of cruel, humiliating and inhuman treatment, and the Syrian authorities have used the following methods in this context: Deprivation of food, water and toilets, detention in unhealthy environments, deprivation of medical treatment. Detainees have also been forced to appear on official TV channels to provide false confessions and show their apparent regret.
Assyrian detainees were given trials, just like the other Syrian detainees, and only three cases were tried out of a total of 17 cases.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer