Mass Graves Around Damascus Are a Reminder That Bashar al-Assad Remains the Biggest Threat to Syria
WASHINGTON D.C., September 22, 2020 – On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, an unnamed witness provided testimony in a courtroom in Koblenz, Germany during the prosecution of Anwar Raslan and Eyad al Gharib that described the mass graves he helped dig around Damascus and the hundreds of victims that they buried in them each day: men, women, and children with visible signs of torture, all numbered and recorded as they were processed through Assad’s industrial-scale killing machine. The Syrian American Council calls on the United States and other western governments to follow Germany’s lead in preventing impunity among Syrian regime officials and for immediate action to remove the Assad regime from power in order to stop the atrocities and begin the road to recovery for Syria.
“The testimony by the grave digger provided a stark reminder that the Syrian people have experienced uninterrupted suffering for almost ten years now. Every day that passes without justice is fresh torture for the families of those who have disappeared into Bashar al-Assad’s prisons,” said Suzanne Meriden, executive director of the Syrian American Council. “The descriptions of mass graves being filled around Damascus are painful to hear, but they are an important step towards the end of impunity and resolution and justice for millions of Syrian civilians. The Syrian American Council is profoundly grateful to the prosecutors and organizations that have worked tirelessly for justice, and to the German legal system for providing a venue for this groundbreaking trial, the first war crimes trial ever brought against a security official of the Assad regime. ”
The Syrian American Council calls western governments to prosecute Syrian regime members that have left Syria while posing as refugees in hopes of avoiding responsibility for their crimes. The international community must continue to resist pressure to normalize relations with the Assad regime and to turn a blind eye to its depravity. The newest findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry — which found the Syrian government’s widespread crimes against humanity continue to this day — and the testimony in Koblenz are both reminders that Bashar al-Assad and his regime cannot remain in place in order for Syria to begin its long path to recovery.