Maduro’s Prestige-o-meter


So according to Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights‘s prestige is in a state of catastrophic collapse.

The Syrian government, though? They’re peaches.

[Highlights – or rather, lowlights – from HRW’s November 2011 report on the crackdown on Homs after the break…]

One witness, Wael (not his real name), described the torture he and other detainees experienced at the Military Intelligence base in Homs:

They brought me into what felt like a big room with lots of people inside. I was blindfolded but could hear people around me screaming and begging for water. I could hear the sound of electric tasers and interrogators ordering to hang people by their hands. Once they got to me, they started mocking me, saying, “We welcome you, leader of the revolution,” and asked me what was going on in Tal Kalakh. I said I didn’t know, and then the torture began.

They beat with cables and then hanged me by my hands from a pipe under the ceiling so that my feet weren’t touching the floor. I was hanging there for about six hours, although it was hard to tell the time. They were beating me, and pouring water on me, and then using electric tasers.

For the night, they put me into a cell, about three-by-three meters, along with some 25 other detainees. We were all squeezed together. Next morning, they brought me in for another interrogation. This time, they “folded” me, pushed my legs and head into a tire, flipped me on my back, and started flogging the soles of my feet.[106]

Another witness, Basel (not his real name), gave similar accounts of torture he experienced at the Military Intelligence detention facility in Homs:

When I did not answer all their questions during interrogation, they took me to a torture room. My eyes were blindfolded, but I recall going five steps down. They used handcuffs to tie one of my arms to a pipe under the ceiling and left me hanging there, with my feet barely touching the ground. They left me there for two or three hours. They did this over eight days. There were usually five or six detainees tortured that way at any given moment. I could not see them but I could hear their screams. Sometimes, they would also beat me while hanging. My wrist, arm, and shoulder would hurt so much, that I tried at one point to break my arm so that they would have to take me down.[107]

Basel said that after three days of torture, he could no longer bend his legs and his feet were worryingly swollen. The security forces called for a doctor to give him an anti-inflammatory injection. Basel said that he met two detainees who had had nails pulled out and many who had been electrocuted with electric batons.

Another witness, Omar (not his real name), told Human Rights Watch that some detainees were subjected to particularly brutal treatment:

Four days after we were brought to the Military Intelligence base in Homs, the guards took one the detainees, Abdul Halim [name changed] for interrogation. When they returned him to the cell two hours later, he was half-dead. No matter where you touched his body, he screamed in pain. He had black-and-red marks from electric shocks on his hands, legs, and back. They pulled out nails on his hands. The interrogators also used an electric drill on him – hehad holes from the drill on his hands, hips, knees, and feet. He was bleeding profusely. We asked the guard to give him medical assistance, but they refused.

I was moved to another facility shortly thereafter, and I don’t know whether he survived.[108]

Interrogators did not spare those detainees who were wounded during the arrest and thus particularly vulnerable. One former detainee, Wassim (not his real name), sustained a bayonet wound on his back during arrest. He said that he and other wounded detainees had been subjected to various forms of torture in the military hospital in Homs:

After the nurses stitched my wound without applying any anesthesia, the guards took me into a detention facility in the hospital, threw me on the ground, and started beating me. I told them I was injured and cried, asking them not to beat me, but they didn’t stop. They put me on a bed, and when they removed my blindfold, I saw five other detainees, all with gunshot wounds, on the beds around me.

Two hours later one of the guards came in, and beat me again. Then I saw him heating up a metal rod on a gas heater. I was terrified that he would use it on me, but instead he walked up to another man – hewas naked, and his hands were cuffed. The guard put the red-hot metal rod to his testicles. The man screamed, saying he was innocent. The guard then beat him with the same rod, and then heated it up again, this time burning his feet.[109]

Detainees arrested in Tal Kalakh said that before delivering them to the detention facility, security forces brought them to a nearby Alawite village where they encouraged residents to beat and humiliate the detainees. Wael told Human Rights Watch:

I was in a bus with about 50 other detainees. The security forces drove into an Alawite village not far from Tal Kalakh. People in the village were ready – there were about 150 of them, waiting for us. Shabeeha, who were guarding us on the bus, told them, “Come and beat these traitors, and if any of these pigs dies, just throw them away.” The villagers then started beating us with their fists and feet, and shovel handles, saying, “You want freedom – here is your freedom!”[110]

But remember kids, it’s the Interamerican Court that’s reached “los límites del desprestigio…”

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  1. But FT, have you not been reading The Guardian lately? Human rights violations are OK, for “development purposes” eso si. Fuera de development purposes ni de vaina.

  2. Barbaric is too tame a word. Al Assad’s eventual fate, even if the same as Gaddafi’s, will still be too tame. Venezuela’s transgressors, while tame by comparison, in true Criollo Tradition, will probably be allowed to enjoy their ill-gotten wealth outside the Country with no repercussions, other than total Country economic destruction accompanied by tremendous impoverishment of “El Pueblo”–Se Cansa Uno!!!

  3. Net, the difference being Gaddafi and Assad started killing, maiming, torturing and raping own people. The Bolivarians are actually careful when extracting revenge, doling punishment, silencing, and setting examples. They cut deals.

      • By letting the murder and crime rate soar, Chavez has killed, maimed, tortured, and raped the Venezuelan people. Chavez supports tyrants who massacre their own people. I fear for the Venezuelan people in October because Chavez has promised violence.

  4. the regime was worse in the beginning than now. Many times, “se les fue la mano”. Nobody wants the attention. However, everything and anything goes at the end

  5. The eventual justice, Mr. Net, is up to the new goverment and the kind of deals they negotiate with the incumbent regime. In my book, there should be a wiesenthal type of investigative , locating and targeting of all the people responsible. They need to be brought back and their assets confiscated as best it can be done. The message that it is ok to steal, lye down and then come back needs to end….

    I am with you on this, Wishfull thinking.

  6. Before any trials and punishments for corruption, Chavez has to be removed from office. I am sure Chavista officials are moving their assets to foreign countries. Chavez and his family must have billions in countries such as Syria, Libya, Mozambique, Switzerland, North Korea, etc.

    For now, let the Chavistas believe they can get away with theft. They will not fight as hard against Capriles. After Chavez leaves office, the trials can begin.

  7. Ronaldo: Unfortunately, there are two problems with recovering the stolen wealth and punishing the criminals.

    One is that when the chavistas leave office they will destroy all records. Several years ago, I read of a high-rise office building in Nigeria which was burned down to destroy records that were evidence of embezzlement in the government agency housed there.

    The other is that a very large part of chavista looting was done legally, through CADIVI and other mechanisms. There’s an old aphorism about this sort of thing: “The real scandal is not what goes on that is illegal, it’s what is legal.”


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