»Die syrische Armee und die syrischen Sicherheitskräfte begingen Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit«

Bericht von Amnesty International zur Lage im syrischen Tell Kalakh, 7.6.2011

As part of the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa region in recent
months, relatively small demonstrations in Syria in February developed into widespread mass
protests in the country from mid-March.2 These spread across the country after the security
forces used excessive force to suppress what were largely peaceful demonstrations. On 14
May, a devastating security operation began in Tell Kalakh, a town in the western governorate
of Homs near the border with Lebanon. According to Amnesty International’s findings, scores
of men were arbitrarily arrested and tortured, including people already wounded, and at least
nine died in custody. The security operation prompted thousands of people to flee to
Lebanon, some of whom were shot at as they fled.
The security operation began the day after a large demonstration in the town’s central Abu
Arab Square called for the downfall of the regime. During the protest, 12 members of the
ruling Ba’th Party announced their resignation as junior officials to a cheering crowd.
Protests had begun in Tell Kalakh in late March 2011 after security forces violently
suppressed demonstrations in the southern city of Dera’a. The Tell Kalakh protests initially
called for the release of some 250 local people believed to be detained, most of them
incommunicado, by Air Force Security, one of several security forces operating in Syria. Air
Force Security had reportedly arrested them in batches in late 2009 or early 2010, mainly on
suspicion of smuggling goods to and from Lebanon.
In April and May 2011, according to reports, around 70 detainees held by Air Force Security
for months without charge were released.3 However, the protests in Tell Kalakh continued
and began to call for the downfall of the regime. They were largely peaceful apart from one
incident, as far as Amnesty International is aware. The incident happened on 27 April after
Sheikh Osama al-Akkary, an influential local cleric who preaches at a mosque in Tell Kalakh,
was arrested at the Immigration and Passports Directorate in the city of Homs when he was
seeking to renew his passport. His arrest sparked violent clashes in Tell Kalakh between his
supporters and security forces, resulting in the deaths of two members of the security forces.
Amnesty International has not been able to establish whether the cleric’s supporters had
firearms nor whether the subsequent security operation in Tell Kalakh was linked to the two

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