tv Doc Film - Testifying against Assad - Seeking Justice for Syria Deutsche Welle July 24, 2018 5:15am-6:00am CEST
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president thanks for giving us the opportunity this is your first in a drama us watching an interview with bashar al assad in which the syrian president is confronted with photos of people tortured to death assad rejects the claim that they were killed by his own security forces you can bet you thought it was just propaganda just thinking it was i was there and my friends died in front of my eyes because of torture and until this very moment because people are dying because of torture if we are putting the civilians who are we defending syria because who and for assad dismisses criticism as efforts to demonize his regime and you are going to drive them have been tortured everyone i met in the present in tortured so it's to lie it's a big lie and it's it's it is a wave to fans of the government against the people you know the execution is part of the syrian or the sudan government always if you want to go with they can make
it legally but with me there for decades they don't need anything stick with the execution according to the law up for a trial is a legal action done a lot of the lawyers do and even for the reason of. the whole whole the great big one or two minutes to the decision and the execution the people who saw the healer. november the fourth twenty six team syrian human rights lawyer and while bonnie
launches an appeal on facebook. we are looking for people who were abducted taken to intelligence service jails two one five two two seven and two three five and tortured them we want to press charges in germany and send a clear message to the torture is in syria there is no impunity. one hundred people responded that same day offering to testify as witnesses. khalid or ours was in germany when he saw the appeal he had heard good things about the syrian human rights lawyer album he was known for his courage in defending countless political detainees at trials in syria. we have had less. thus far i was surprised actually. here i had an opportunity to bring criminal
charges. despite not being german. exactly and chance for me so as i said it was an opportunity as. soon as i saw the appeal. i talked to and we are right away. in twenty fifteen and his wife were able to escape and come to germany where they were recognized dance political refugees they had taken part in the mass protests against assad in twenty eleven as peaceful activists plus they were on the syrian intelligence agencies wanted list at the end of twenty and they had been arrested by military intelligence in damascus and taken to the notorious branch to one find they are now to give evidence to the german attorney general all the urban strip in this present they were like totally like ruined they cried for a week in what ever it is because it's not something that they are used to you know
there was a shock to get into the room and they just told you and they never told you to take off your clothes it was like a surprise thing you know take off your parents and took off her dress and took off your cough to. and in every step they will ask you to do it again you know and you will be are you serious i'm not going to be like totally naked you would never know it was stripped they stripped me when i went. totally naked and he did sexually harassed they they thought they might be in whatever he tried to do something khaled does not want to talk about the manner of his torture only about how he was forced to watch the torture is at work it happened before the third by four then these as five so you know they were torture those are those who was torture in itself and on the. scene in the these that by i had to go down on my knees and watch. on my part of my heart on that they held my head up by
my hair to force me to walk. long saying they had a long chain with a hook on the airline hawk and on the end beat the two prisoners on the back with the hope. of an on if you can if life it is hell i can see the exposed flesh on them and that the and for me personally for me that image was the worst thing i experienced. on the. there is now widespread evidence of syrian intelligence running a network of detention facilities called branches all across damascus branch two one five was the destination for many of the demonstrators arrested during protests like khaled and appear the interrogation and torture rooms are said to be located
in the six and seven stories. branch two for eight is linked to executions conducted without trial. branch two to seven has seen thousands of cases of arbitrary detention as usual in underground cells two to seven is the branch with the highest number of deaths the syrian air forces intelligence wing is considered the most brutal agency one of its torture divisions is located in missouri at a military airport inmates here dying from torture starvation and the general conditions of detention. summer twenty seventeen. a confidential meeting at the european center for constitutional and human rights to prepare the criminal charges against the torturers the german attorneys here specialize in international law they work together with syrian boy and journalist must end darwish in human rights and while bahrainis. instead of accusing
individual torture of the team are targeting the top of the chain of command high ranking officials from syrian intelligence services. educations. international law expert patrick crocker explains to colleagues attending the meetings our german law also covers officials who failed to prevent crime if. not for something but for something that you didn't do you and what you didn't do was he did stop the people that committed the crimes and didn't stop. the push of. the lawyers know that officials did know what was going on and not just because of reports of torture leaking to the outside world is. that this. was a. concern . that you know.
well having themselves been imprisoned by the regime need for five years darwish for three and a half. in two thousand and two germany adopted the code of crimes against international law meaning it can now try to crimes against humanity war crimes and genocide in germany even if they were committed elsewhere in accordance with the principle of universal jurisdiction this is what it is it is utterly unrealistic right now and to think that syria itself could take the. cases to trial. you can see the principle enables any state in the world to assume jurisdiction and investigate these crimes. all. want to off topic and potentially in germany for example to cross a queue the perpetrator should they enter the country. despite them having no connection to germany despite the crime having been committed in syria and then
probably being a syrian national that is the background to the principle of universal jurisdiction . and while bunny is reluctant to take time out from his work he does make exceptions for journalists due to the public safety factor something he learned from decades of cases in damascus representing those persecuted for political reasons his commitment to human rights and freedom of expression would not have been possible without the involvement of journalists from outside syria and also afforded him protection but after syria signed an international convention against torture in two thousand and four how bernie was deemed too dangerous for the regime. we hope it's will be side to do something we know. because. many. international agreement and in go it in. just
so we'd like to use this agreement to say stop torture is here in fact there is that we have to do it because i see i spoke about. the asian. significance that. one year after his release in twenty eleven his friend and fellow activist to krisna ducted the figure of all forat in the syrian legal world to this day nobody has seen or heard from him since . the need feels it is his duty to continue their common struggle for justice and the key issue here in the jails run by the intelligence agencies. everybody in syria from himself from the stories of the day she needs who were released or their parents. but the detention they got in the jail or in the station.
but they didn't spoke about because afraid they wouldn't spoke loudly or public the more secret weapon of this regime to put the people in fear in here or just feel. terrible. feel. it's still a secret weapon it was a assad regime to make supports i don't. marzan darwish also has a photo of missing lawyer to con his war longside voters of friends and colleagues who have likewise disappeared darwish is a lawyer and activist for the syrian center for media and freedom of expression. darwish founded the center in damascus in two thousand and four when it was raided for a third time in twenty twelve the air force intelligence service or arrested fourteen
staff including darwish and his wife yet out of baghdad. after being the last to be released in twenty fifteen he fled to berlin since then he has been continuing to struggle to ensure a democratic and peaceful syria. especially the youth. faces scandal for. torture the bad condition. the families who feel that they. ignore and nobody care about their suffering. and really if we don't find. justice a solution for those people who would tell them just there's no justice on the what . you might write it's. that it's not that fate so we push
to go to the. thought and get i wish i'd like either or i says. human rights organizations estimated well over one hundred thousand people in syria are in captivity or have disappeared eighty percent of them following government orders. many families in syria have somebody who is missing where they detained or disappeared. manson darwish and your are determined to ensure that these people are not forgotten they launched a global search for witnesses from syria in their efforts to file criminal charges . the united nations have proved to be a singular disappointment for seven years the body has been observing events in
syria starting with the revolution and its violent suppression of the un human rights council set up a commission of inquiry which has since compiled thousands of documents on crimes against humanity in syria but no action has been taken darwish embodied ten what is now its fourteenth session and one can this we cannot allow impunity and if impunity prevails in syria and should work crimes and crimes against humanity will become legal everywhere. without legal review the terror will continue to escalate it will work that is why justice is so important to us and none of this i'm glad that. the human rights activists want to be heard before the united nations as a voice of syria's civilian population as a voice committed soley to human rights and not compromised by overriding political interests.
we continue to strongly support the mandate of the commission of inquiry and welcome its critical work in investigating agree just human rights violations and abuses as well as violations of international humanitarian law of which the syrian government remains the primary perpetrator but widespread practice of enforced disappearances torture and execution by the regime reinforces the need for a transition to a government that can protect the rights of all syrians commands consistently dismissed by the syrian government and backed up by russia in that election commission bases its work on statements from anonymous witnesses which is not credible. and uses reports from dubious sources who are and from governments hostile to syria. the commission is not trustworthy jamelia. you know when you're not the commissioner makes no mention of the war crimes that were committed with weapons from the united states with you with. the human
rights activists determined to prevent the politicians having the only opinion on events in their country your idea the young woman arrested by the syrian regime on terrorism charges presents her central demand. that would mean a lot that we just as a democratic transition and accountability we cannot proceed without official recognition of the crimes committed without compensation for the victims as part of an investigation by a transitional justice. the family law that. when it's the turn of nongovernmental organizations to speak of the end of the commission meeting most journalists are no longer listening. all eyes ears and cameras on this day or on carla del ponte to the syrian commission's most determined special investigator resigned because even in the seventh year of the investigation there
is still no criminal court for syria on behalf of the international community she has documented the most serious human rights violations to no avail i design to put an end to my frustration as a former prosecutor after more than five years active in the commission. we call not up again from the international community and from the security council it is a little short putting in place a trade bill not attribute another dog for the ball or the crimes of that that komi did in syria and we are in that seven year of the commission of crimes severe crimes against humanity including genocide and war crimes can be tried in the international criminal court in the hague one hundred twenty four countries have read. it's all foreign t.v. but syria is not among them which is why the hague is not an option here the last
resort would be for the security council to have the case referred to a special tribunal on syria. but so far but attempts have been vetoed by russia and china. carla del ponte essentially did not want to be an alibi for inaction by the international community. so excited to see that right now i don't see a way out. i don't see the political will to achieve justice. other . by and i still imagine that the high official is political and military leaders might one day appear in court. but if it is a little bit ahead for there is a whole lot i have to admit it's only a small unfortunately and health. and human rights violations documented in syria are appalling.
neuer for i have come across and new methods of torture i had never heard of before in forty years for a living and most importantly it. other torch it involves keeping people alive for as long as possible before they die. and that is unbelievable this is. meanwhile the syrian human rights activists refuse to give up on their course. and know that tomorrow there is nothing to change we will not get her to model my usual solved but this is a process we should keep fighting keep trying to achieve something succeed one verse is a lot apart from the justice for all. to take time need a little for the fourth and walk in the most important verse to keep the voice of the victim the voice of her family is the listen here in the united nation over
all of. our beer fast food and holiday or our us new things who get dangerous when one thousand sided to join the attempted revolution in twenty eleven anyone talking of freedom and democracy risked jail but the artist and her future husband refused to be intimidated the resistance to the regime bolstered their confidence when state security forces began shooting of the demonstrators they considered alternative forms of protest the would not make them direct targets. was like i don't know more than hundred a lot of number of balls and they wrote they were at freedom and. democracy and we just threw a lot of number of balls from the street the same see the cars work on and this and the board could keep going down until it nearby the house that the sheriff had
lived in and it was so beautiful and another one that with the red thing it was like also good for love it in the lake so we have a lot of fountains in the mosques in a lot of squares and the color that the. waterworld grades the same time we were we were like coloring the sport and there were like hundreds of people killed in. it was protests likely that led them to being added to the intelligence agencies wanted list before the first year of the revolution was over agents tracked down khalid and a beer and took them to branch to one five. years old that. when it comes to the issue of human rights violations the syrian community in berlin rallies together they include torture survivors and families who do not know where their loved ones
are or whether they are even alive. the organizers of this meeting in berlin also invited kathleen mushy u.-l. head of the un's new investigation on serious war crimes in syria established despite fierce resistance from russia instead of just gathering documents she has been tasked with preparing court proceedings despite the absence of assyria tribunals the former french challenge praises the efforts of the syrian lawyers and is frank in her criticism of the international community's failures it isn't going to say enough originally the the prosecutors all the judges were taking the lead in the civil society that decides that report is in earth and now we need action to disallow action they call them. very courageous and and very professional prosecutors are they have cases for marzan darwish who l's independent status is
essential. their witnesses are afraid of becoming victims of revenge again once the regime has regained complete control or is that is why we need a neutral institution affiliated to the un so that the witnesses feel comfortable testifying and do not have to be silent on what happened. or why them and. june the twenty ninth twenty seventeen and historic day in cannes were home to germany supremum court. manson darwish gave testimony to germany's attorney general it was the first time the journalist was able to speak before judicial officials without fearing his statements could land him in prison. you know actually there is that hope of. the muslim brought them in their hope that we can send them a so that there is no more impunity and the justice.
even for the syrian. will ease to this level as a human being we don't accept this kind of. war crime or crime against them the city and humanity and say no this is not the what a problem for a lot of. muslim darwish was questioned by the german state attorneys over the course of two days he testified on his own three year imprisonment and how he was tortured daily for an entire year you also reported about friends in the same prison who did not survive the ordeal i am sure a trainee dentist was tortured to death and there are photos of girls whose body and those of over six thousand others. all a syrian military photographer had to take pictures of those tortured to death after over two years he could no longer stomach it and deserted subsequently
smuggling his photos out of the country he is codenamed caesar for his own protection his pictures catalogue the systematic human rights crimes by the regime in damascus. on this particular day darwish was interviewed for twelve hours with many traumatic memories resurfacing. is. the german attorney general was unusually candid in his assessment of the photos taken by cesar document in the murderous torture he sees that the scenes are files testified to thousands of ordeals. thousand thousands of desecrated bodies to mention we have subjected your files to a legal and forensic examination i know you. want but we want to clarify why these people had to die. these and more investigations also have the aim of
your terminating who the originator is. who is responsible for these people having to die in such conditions and. in these and we believe that this user files are authentic. and it's and. france has also opened investigations into the responsible parties from the syrian regime. five years ago the life of. change radically the french syrian and his wife stopped going dancing and playing bridge and going out to meet friends. they had received a phone call from obey their sister in law in damascus the syrian air force intelligence service had conducted a nighttime raid on her home in the upscale embassy district first taking away her son patrick the next day they picked up obeyed his brother. a french teacher
a fellow prisoner released shortly afterwards told him what he saw. to stand with their heads against the wall for twelve hours i mean. this was i was in had taken off his slippers. then in the afternoon they brought patrick in. they were forbidden to speak. dad no problem five. his father asked were you tortured you know no i'm all right but he wanted to reassure his father but after what the witness told us we did have the impression that they had tortured the boy. then they were separated again. then was led into a cell and his last words we knew were let me out of here i'm suffocating that was it the last sign of life.
divine decided to take action using contacts in syria proved a hopeless undertaking he then address the french president the foreign minister and other senior officials his brother and nephew like yourself are french citizens the bar received polite and sympathetic responses from the palace. home of up it was on the door of i went right to the top. but nothing else happened at all. not immediately but then french t.v. picked up on the story the international federation for human rights intended to refer the case to the french judiciary. then found charges in paris concerning enforced disappearance with lawyer backed out now finally state prosecutors launched proceedings. with the assad regime providing zero information
on the whereabouts of the band's brother and nephew witness testimony is vital. claim aspect tard contacted human rights organizations to find people who had been in the same prison at the same time. bill forat is in syria denied all accusations of kidnapping. and while bruni in berlin informed her that there was one witness in germany he had likewise been in the prison run by the air force intelligence service for them in the. law and according to al gore needs the witness was able to provide detailed testimony. which officers serve there how interrogations were conducted and how the general conditions were there. get well fed. and you can see fashion week that the fact that
a dictatorial regime makes people disappear and provides no information for the family is a form of terror it is political terror that is used deliberately it's an organized set up the fact that obeyed and the whole family are in the dark about the fate of patrick and mars then is the decision of the bash al asaad regime and that's what we're trying to say it's organized and etc if. you do if there are orders involved. it was planned this way fast policy. the next day and while bernie arrives in paris as does the witness from germany who did not wish to be filmed because he still has relatives living in syria. revealing his identity would put them at risk of reprisals potentially fatal from the regime . that fear also complicates the work of investigators in europe across the
continent there are witnesses of victims and also perpetrators who have defected. is in paris only have access to the witness from germany because the syrian lawyer was able to gain his confidence. and while boonie intends to testify himself before french investigators another in cling of hope for a beta. as in germany the aim is to see international arrest warrants issued against the heads of syrian intelligence a warning shot to those responsible if they arrested while crossing an international border they could then face trial a move also intended to discourage the perpetrators from committing further acts of violence. for four years now abated
the bar has been waiting for a sign of life from his brother and nephew. ours has found a job as a mechanical engineer in the german port city of east mark which will be the small family's new home. his daughter yes mina has never set foot in syria her parents homeland. i've moved more than eight times in the last five years and it's organ. yeah but there's no place like home or shop or that is. and i hope to go back soon my time out with you and we ask him what home means to him. that's why don't we have a clear answer on that. one for me. home is where i am.
and where i find my goal of mine and. the outbreak of the revolution meant to dream come true for i.b.m. she was a joy to see syrians daring to go out onto the streets and peacefully stand up for their rights what is since happened there however she finds extremely distressing. o. who should have become and civil war and the media and our evolution to become that isis that it's all over that no one ever talked about the regime anymore and this is really hurt us because there's a lot of people been. killed in the last people being tortured this is so now a president you know. so well. more a seriously.
and while bernie wants to hear the testimony of additional witnesses in norway is only option is to travel from one country to the next to prepare for the case until perhaps there is after all an international tribunal on syria. has alberni waits to meet a witness he receives a devastating phone call. the caller tells him of rumors that his old friend and colleague has died in captivity that had been no news of him for five years the rumors are unconfirmed but the call is deeply upsetting to everyone who knew him. so news for us anyway when did. he was arrested on.
this new it's moved a lot of washing of old has been more than four. albert me meets the witness in his hotel her son was twenty two when he was arrested by syrian military intelligence the young man now wants to submit a detailed account of his ordeal the lawyer looks for evidence that corroborates reports from other witnesses before combining the individual statements to form a broader picture. of war but in a sign was crammed into a four by four meters cell with one hundred ten other people they were stripped and forced to stand all day long they were allowed to go to the toilet once a day and had to sleep on top of each other. all they were given to eat was bread
and dirty water many suffocated others died of starvation or because their wounds from torture were left untreated. it's been six months since our dear and khaled filed criminal charges with german prosecutors with the help of anwar alberni the case has set a precedent being the first example of war crimes and human rights violations being investigated while the conflict in question is still ongoing actually this conflict and its parts of from get a promotion actually that justice is one or life like this a big main part of their evolution that was started because i love them and we just want to continue we are not going to surrender. like everything but the side that
it's a message to the people to the people that bring to the family that has black sons been killed in torture it's it's it's worth it for the people that's told a prison. that we are thinking about and we are doing something. that is if all right. you know not in in only like talking or only like having a report or what ever we are we are trying to do the right action on. the day on which anwar alba need delivers his testimony to the german attorney general in carl's were is perhaps one of the most important in his life. we start the close. calls that yes i am. excited because it's my duty. to help just. to find. some. hope.
that's here to try and while bernie will be naming the officials overseeing the torture and the senior intelligence service officers who have been committing serious human rights violations with complete impunity the most senior is alie mum look head of all four intelligence services and twenty twelve he was appointed director of the national security bureau. left ten a general rafi chair her day head of military intelligence until twenty fifteen and considered a close adviser to a sat on strategic issues. his successor mohamed is also among the accused gen mohammed was the head of the notorious torture center branch two three five. head of the air force intelligence service is considered the most brutal official likewise stands accused of involvement in the violent suppression of the civilian
population the german prosecutor has two objectives. and it's the most urgently use of those people who were parties to these crimes by those who were responsible for torture intially work crimes and crimes against humanity is the kind we want them to know that germany is not a safe haven enough and to the victims of this we also want to give them a clear message that they're being taken seriously your frame is to investigate the suffering they were subjected to and also to look at the perpetrators have a right if they're here in germany or europe and make them accountable and a fun for them sort of one. that is the hope for these syrians the hope for justice and a life in freedom. yes how we can compete get a team that have stood up and just on syria. and
then for the source i think it's very important for some culpability our cost structure justice. here including myself to four kids i hope for the truth of the really couldn't allow for a happy life short of my children i hope the source of my children and them their children will become a place actually live a dreams of a lesson and really i. think that. i would not believe she's not a. result. i could not believe i should perish the thought i might die. if i try maybe i succeed if you're not but i must try. inputs hoke of mind i think of my daughter.
and so i wanted to feel comfortable in the future when she might ask me for this what did you do that it has to come out on the fourth i want to be able to send an unambiguous message to my daughter now faced with iron that we did do something matters mind off the shaken. the soviet it's what you must have and. why we'll act and i will live as a person has a bright side and no one has the right to take my word for me this is what i want my daughter to see fit to see me not pm. labelled. or. following a follow the lead. without thinking. i will just live the life the womb let my daughter know that she can do anything she wants if it's the
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