Gruesome photos of Syria torture on display at UN

Published March 11th, 2015 - 02:30 GMT

Maimed bodies, eye gougings, beatings, abuse and strangulation.

Graphic photographs of detainees allegedly tortured by Syrian regime forces are on display in an exhibit at the United Nations headquarters, co-sponsored by 15 nations including Turkey, Britain, France, Qatar and the U.S.

"The international community is waiting for the day that the UN will be up to its values and put an end to the unspeakable pain of the Syrians," Turkey's UN envoy Halit Cevik said at the launch of the exhibit Tuesday. "On that day, the men, women and children in these photos will rest in peace."

The images, smuggled out in January 2014 by a defected military police photographer codenamed "Caesar," have been described by a team of former war crimes prosecutors as "clear evidence" of "systemic torture and killing of detained persons by agents of the Syrian government."

The Syrian civil war enters its fifth year this month, having left as many as 210,000 people dead, according to the UN.

"What is happening in Syria, what the Syrian people are facing in response to their legitimate request for democracy will by no means remain unpunished," Cevik said. "There will be accountability for the acts of the Syrian regime, as there will be bright days where Syrians will rebuild their country out of the ashes."

As many as 3.8 million Syrian refugees are registered in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq as a result of the conflict which started in March 2011 when the regime responded to anti-government protests with a violent crackdown.

Najib Ghadbian, the special representative to the U.S. for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said atrocities are still committed by the regime forces "without any accountability."

He complained that the international community's attention to the plight of the Syrians was distracted by the fight against Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), adding that the lack of accountability for those who committed humanitarian crimes led to the rise of extremist groups.

The number of Syrians currently staying in Syrian prisons is estimated at between 150,000 and 230,000, Ghadbian said.

"They all might be facing a similar fate to the pictures we see in the background," he said, referring to dozens of images on display, out of about 55,000 photographs smuggled out by "Caesar."

The exhibit will remain on display until March 20.


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