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We Condemn the Syrian Regime’s Killing of a Citizen Who Travelled to its Territories for Medical Treatment

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Hassan Ali Hassan Agha, a 47-year-old Kurdish man originally from Snara village, which is administratively affiliated with the Nahiyat Sheikh Hadid in the suburbs of Afrin city, northwestern Aleppo, lived in Afrin city, where he worked as a labourer transporting vegetables at the city’s al-Hal Market. Hassan, who suffered from chronic diabetes, had travelled from Afrin city to Aleppo city for treatment when he was arrested by Syrian regime forces there in late October 2022. His family told the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) that they were informed he was being held in the Aleppo city branch of the regime’s infamous Air Force Intelligence Directorate.

On December 29, 2022, Hassan’s family was notified that he had died in the Air Force Intelligence branch in Aleppo city, with his body subsequently transferred to Afrin city the next day, December 30, via Al-Taeyha crossing which connects the Syrian regime’s territories with those controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbej city, eastern Aleppo. According to information obtained by SNHR, Hassan’s body was then transferred from the SDF-controlled Manbej area to the Syria National Army’s (SNA) territories in the suburbs of Jarablos city in eastern Aleppo, where personnel from the Syrian Civil Defence (White Helmets) received it and transferred it to the Military Hospital in Afrin city, which is under the control of the SNA. Hassan’s family received his body there on December 31, 2022.

Our information confirms that Hassan’s family was blackmailed by regime forces who forced them to pay large sums of money in return for his body. His family were also told by informal sources within the Syrian regime that the cause of Hassan’s death was an acute rise in his blood sugar levels. On December 31, 2022, SNHR obtained a number of photos which clearly show and prove that Hassan Ali Hassan was deliberately starved and suffered food deprivation and medical negligence during his imprisonment.

International law unequivocally prohibits torture and other forms of cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment. This has attained a ‘customary rule’ status, meaning it cannot be disregarded or balanced against other rights or values, even in times of emergency. Violating the prohibition of torture is a crime under international criminal law. Those who gave orders for or assisted in inflicting torture are criminally responsible for such practices.

SNHR condemns all practices of arrest and torture carried out by Syrian regime forces. We call for the immediate launch of an independent investigation into all incidents of arrest and torture that have taken place, particularly into this cruel incident. We also underline the imperative need for holding all those who are involved in this incident accountable, from the individuals who issued orders to those who carried out the acts of torture. The findings of these investigations and accountability processes must be made public to the Syrian people, and all those who have been involved in arrest and torture practices must be exposed and discharged, while victims must be compensated for the harrowing physical and psychological harm they have suffered.

Hassan Ali Hassan Agha