The Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Centre has published an analysis of classified documents it says provide a rare window into the brutal day-to-day operations of the country’s secret security institutions.
The report, ‘Walls Have Ears’, takes its name from the well-known saying in Syria that decribes how, over decades, the Syrian Government has woven together a multi-layered web of security-intelligence agencies in order to permeate citizens’ daily lives and snuff out dissent through targeted detentions, torture and executions.
The report also lists the names of officials ultimately responsible for atrocities, an order from the National Security Officer to tap a French-Lebanese journalist’s phone and a look into the repression of the Kurdish population.
The authors of the report say that because security sector officials have methodically documented decisions to monitor and target certain individuals and groups, there’s a paper trail.
They analysed a sample of 5,003 classified documents smuggled out of the country by human rights activists, choosing to focus on how the security sector operated during the early years of the current conflict and the years leading up to its oubreak, in 2011.
“From the use of live ammunitions against peaceful protesters in 2011, to mass arrest campaigns, torture, and disappearances, the security sector remained an integral part of Bashar al-Assad’s attempts to suppress dissent as the conflict evolved, and their practices are shown widely in the documents contained in this analysis,” reads the report.