Over the last five years, more than 10,000 people were hanged at Syrian prison Saydnaya. A new report released by Amnesty International indicates that once, sometimes twice a week, 50 people at a time were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death.

The mass hangings aren’t the only atrocity. Reportedly, detainees were tortured and kept in squalor.

Pulled from their cells in the middle of the night. Prisoners were beaten and then transferred to another prison building before being hanged to death.

Saydnaya is an extralegal “prison” rightly dubbed a “slaughterhouse”.

From Amnesty International:

Hangings at Saydnaya are carried out once or twice a week, usually on Monday and Wednesday, in the middle of the night. Those whose names are called out were told they would be transferred to civilian prisons in Syria. Instead, they are moved to a cell in the basement of the prison and beaten severely. They are then transported to another prison building on the grounds of Saydnaya, where they are hanged. Throughout this process, they remain blindfolded. They do not know when or how they will die until the noose was placed around their necks.

“They kept them [hanging] there for 10 to 15 minutes. Some didn’t die because they are light. For the young ones, their weight wouldn’t kill them. The officers’ assistants would pull them down and break their necks,” said a former judge who witnessed the hangings.

Detainees held in the building in the floors above the “execution room” reported that they sometimes heard the sounds of these hangings.

“If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes… We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then,” said “Hamid”, a former military officer arrested in 2011.

As many as 50 people can be hanged in one night. Their bodies are taken away by the truckload to be secretly buried in mass graves. Their families are given no information about their fate.

As bad as the mass hangings are the prison conditions. Detainees are beaten, raped, forced to rape others, and often killed. What little food they’re given is often tossed on the floor where it’s mixed with blood — the result of brutal beatings.

Survivors of Saydnaya also provided spine-chilling and shocking testimonies about life inside the prison. They evoke a world carefully designed to humiliate, degrade, sicken, starve and ultimately kill those trapped inside.

These harrowing accounts have led Amnesty International to conclude that the suffering and appalling conditions at Saydnaya have been deliberately inflicted on detainees as a policy of extermination.

Many of the prisoners said they were raped or in some cases forced to rape other prisoners. Torture and beatings are used as a regular form of punishment and degradation, often leading to life-long damage, disability or even death. The cell floors are covered with blood and puss from prisoners’ wounds. The bodies of dead detainees are collected by the prison guards each morning, around 9am.

“Every day there would be two or three dead people in our wing… I remember the guard would ask how many we had. He would say, ‘Room number one – how many? Room number two – how many?’ and on and on… There was one time that… the guards came to us, room by room, and beat us on the head, chest and neck. Thirteen people from our wing died that day,” said “Nader”, a former Saydnaya detainee.

Food and water are regularly cut off. When food is delivered, it is often scattered over the cell floors by the guards, where it mixes with blood and dirt. The very few who leave Saydnaya often do so weighing half the body weight they had when they arrived.

Saydnaya also has its own set of “special rules”. Prisoners are not allowed to make any sounds, speak or even whisper. They are forced to assume certain positions when the guards come into the cells and merely looking at the guards is punishable by death.

If these reports are accurate, there’s no denying egregious human rights violations as well as crimes against humanity.

13,000 people murdered. Their bodies dumped into mass graves for peacefully protesting a bloody regime. The horror is almost imaginable.

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