A Devastating Decade: Report by Russian HRDs documents violations during the war in Syria


Report by Russian Human Rights Defenders documents violations of human rights and humanitarian law during the war in Syria

The first-ever report by Russian human rights activists on the armed conflict in Syria was released marking the 10th year anniversary of what has become one of the largest humanitarian disasters of our time. The report analyzes violations of human rights and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict including the Syrian government; armed groups of Syrian opposition, terrorist organizations; Russia and the international US-led coalition. It reveals the unprecedented scale of violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity over the last decade.

The report has been prepared by the organizations Memorial Human Rights Center (HRC); the Civic Assistance Committee; Alexander Gorbachev, a lawyer of Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg the human rights group; and Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM, the organization announced that it stopped its activity as a network in 2020).

The authors analyze the main phases of the conflict and document major violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law including arbitrary detentions; enforced disappearances; torture and inhumane treatment in prisons; extrajudicial executions; unlawful attacks including the use of indiscriminate and prohibited weapons; and the use of sieges, starvation, sexual violence and denial of medical care as methods of warfare.

The report draws on interviews with over 150 witnesses and survivors. Unable to enter Syria, the authors conducted interviews with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Russia. Eye-witness testimonies are corroborated by materials from various United Nations agencies, international non-governmental organizations, Syrian human rights activists and international experts.

By telling the stories of civilians caught up in the armed conflict, the report seeks to fill the information vacuum in Russian society regarding the conflict in Syria. Since Russia’s direct entrance into the war in 2015, thousands of Syrian civilians have been killed, dozens of towns and villages have been destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of families have been displaced.

“The reality of the conflict in Syria, including the human rights violations, has largely escaped notice in Russian society, despite the fact that it is one of the most tragic episodes in the recent history of mankind. More than 20 million people have been affected by the war. The number of dead and wounded is incalculable, and the brutality shown in the conflict has exceeded all possible bounds of human decency,” say the authors of the report.

The report is available in English, Russian and Arabic at the following link.


Photo credit: AP Photo/UNRWA