In Palmyra, this Syrian prison is one of the most dangerous in the world

Published May 18th, 2015 - 09:06 GMT
One aspect of Palmyra has been kept in the dark: its heinous prison. (Google Maps)
One aspect of Palmyra has been kept in the dark: its heinous prison. (Google Maps)

As the battle for Palmyra continues between regime forces and Daesh (ISIS) militants, one aspect of Palmyra has been left forgotten: its prison.

Tadmor Military Prison in Syria's ancient city originally opened as French military barracks but quickly became well-known for detainee torture and abuses. In June 1980 Rifaat al-Assad, Bashar's uncle, ordered prisoners dead after the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood tried to kill his brother; commandos massacred 500 of the detainees. 

Thirty-five years later, not much has been said about the state of the prison, or of those incarcerated in it. Tadmor Prison was closed in 2001 only to be reopened at the start of the Syrian conflict. Human rights violations run in the family apparently; at least 350 anti-regime protesters continue to be jailed there.

The prison's history has always been ugly, reputed as "the kingdom of death and madness." In the far past, inmates were subjected to medieval torture — getting dragged to death or hacked to pieces with an axe. 

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have gathered testimonies in the past and published reports on the atrocities committed against the prisoners at Tadmor. But for years the world has stayed silent.


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