Monday, May 27, 2024
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Monday, May 27, 2024

Al-Tadamun Massacre: Syria’s hole in Assad’s hell

Of all the calamities that Syrians have witnessed since 2011, one stands out: The al-Tadamun massacre as it is “unique” in the most notorious sense of the word. The mass slaughter took place on April 16, 2013, in al-Tadamun, a southeastern neighborhood of Damascus. In the early days of the revolution, al-Tadamun had become a major target of the regime as many of its residents comprised the front line of the peaceful opposition in the capital city, just a few kilometers from the presidential palace in which Bashar Assad was supposed to be ruling his “beloved” Syrians.

A screenshot picturing Youssef leading a blindfolded and bound civilian to a pre-dug mass grave before executing him; Credit: The leaked video of the massacre

Video footage of the previously unknown massacre was leaked last year and shows in “chilling and unprecedented detail, Syrian military personnel committing a massacre in 2013 of 288 civilians, including seven women and 12 children.”

The most prolifically shared scene in the video was of a “blindfolded man led by the elbow and told to run towards the giant hole that he did not know lay in front of him. Nor did he anticipate the thud of bullets into his flailing body as he tumbled onto a pile of dead men beneath him,” says the Guardian report.

Amjad Youssef, the main perpetrator of this massacre, appeared in the video committing a series of individual killings of innocent civilians in cold blood.

Youssef knew then that he was free to do whatever he liked as he would never be held accountable as long as it was for Assad. This goes without saying in Syria under Bashar Assad whose main priority is his own survival.

A longer section of the video was not released but some who have seen it say that it contains horrific scenes of women and children being tortured, killed, and burnt

Ruthanne Sikora

One of the first massacres to be videotaped, the video’s details are crystal clear, starting with one-by-one execution-style shootings and culminating with the mass burning of the victim’s bodies in a huge pit that had been dug in one of the neighborhood streets.

A longer section of the video was not released but some who have seen it say that it contains horrific scenes of women and children being tortured, killed, and burnt. It seems that this part of the video was intentionally withheld as the gruesome scenes are too explicit for public viewing and most likely to protect surviving family members and also to preserve its integrity as evidence in the event that Youssef can eventually be brought to trial for his crimes.

the corpses of the massacre victims are thought to still be under the ground in that infamous hole in hell. To date, the regime has expressed no desire to exhume the human remains contained in the mass grave and bury them with dignity

Ruthanne Sikora

It is disturbing to think that even as the regime began granting permission for some al-Tadamun property owners to return to the area in 2020 (before the video of the massacre surfaced last year), the corpses of the massacre victims are thought to still be under the ground in that infamous hole in hell. To date, the regime has expressed no desire to exhume the human remains contained in the mass grave and bury them with dignity and respect in a graveyard, or even return them to their families.

In a press release on May 30, 2022, the Syrian Network for Human Rights claimed that Amjad Youssef was detained by the Assad regime without providing any tangible evidence to this end. Such a claim contradicts the unwritten “business as usual” rule of the regime: No killing for Assad will be punished. So who is behind issuing such a statement even though no proof exists to support it?

responsibility for the al-Tadamun massacre can ultimately be traced to the Assad regime for just like any other regime criminal, Amjad Youssef is only an instrument, a tool for executing Assad’s wishes

Ruthanne Sikora

Hopefully someday Youssef will be held accountable for his role but responsibility for the al-Tadamun massacre can ultimately be traced to the Assad regime for just like any other regime criminal, Amjad Youssef is only an instrument, a tool for executing Assad’s wishes. Therefore, as long as Assad remains in power, he will never be tried for this heinous crime as he and his ilk are crucial to the survival of the regime which insures his immunity from law and justice in the Assad jungle.

Ruthanne Sikora
Ruthanne Sikora
Ruthanne Sikora is a full-time caregiver for her differently-abled daughter Lauren, human rights activist, Global Studies student, part-time writer and English editor.

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