Amnesty International's latest report on mass extrajudicial killings in Syria is fake news.
According to former British ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, the report would not survive scrutiny.
On February 7, the organisation issued their “explosive” report titled ‘Human Slaughterhouse, Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydhaya prison, Syria,’ alleging that Syrian authorities were responsible for killing 13 000 opponents of President Bashar Assad at a prison near Damascus.
In an interview with Sputnik, Ford pointed out that the allegations made by Amnesty are completely false and put into question the credibility of the human rights organisation. Amnesty International has already been accused of spreading misleading information and acting as an instrument of propaganda and information wars in Russia, China and the US.
Apart from the fact that it was based on interviews with anonymous witnesses and doesn’t provide a hint of evidence, the nameless sources were wrong on the most “basic information” at the Saydnaya prison.
The retired British diplomat had visited Saydnaya numerous times as he served in Damascus from 2003 to 2006. According to Ford, the prison was too small to contain ten to twenty thousand prisoners at one time, casting doubt the veracity of other claims.
“Ten to twenty thousand is a fair-sized town,” Frod explained. “The building which I saw at Saydnaya could not possibly accommodate more than ten percent of those numbers.”
The human rights group also quoted its sources as saying that Saydnaya became the main political prison in 2011, another falsehood. “It was already, when I was in Syria in 2006 and many years before then, Saydnaya was the main political prison.” Ford clarified. “When they get this level of detail wrong I find it very hard to believe anything at all.”
Amnesty relied on anti-Syria NGOs for names of individuals to interview, but if presented in a judicial proceeding as so-called evidence of government crimes, its undocumented report would be thrown out of court straightaway.
The former ambassador called the organisation one of “the spearheads of liberal interventionism”, because of Amnesty International’s “sensationalist” reports of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
“Amnesty said that they had verified that claims that Iraqi soldiers had stolen incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals and left babies on the floor to die. Turned out this was a total fabrication…they were gullible and they used it and it helped to justify the Iraqi war.” Ford said.
“This is the new way of picking up the white man’s burden — you go around changing regimes that you accuse of human rights abuses.”
In 2013 the International Business Times wrote that in the past Amnesty received funds from the European Commission, from the governments of the Netherlands, the US, Norway and, in 2009, it received 2.5 million euros from government entities.
“Amnesty is well known in the NGO community for being very aggressive, for being sensationalist and for being focused very much on its own fund-raising.” Ford said.
“They have become part of the liberal, elite establishment; part of the vanguard of liberal interventionism. They have lost their way. And this latest report will do them no credit.”
It is interesting too that the report was released after the Syrian city of Aleppo was liberated by the government forces two months ago, as well as after successful negotiations in Astana as Syria edges closer a political solution for the ongoing conflict.
“It’s very strange after this report has been over a year in gestation — you have to ask, why now?” Ford remarked, suggesting that the release was no coincidence.
Syrian President Bashar Assad also blasted the report as fake news and suggested that the human rights group simply made up evidence.
“That report, like many other reports published by Amnesty International, put into question the credibility of Amnesty International, and we never look at it as unbiased,” he told Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff in an interview on Friday.
“It’s always biased and politicised,” he added. “And it’s a shame for such an organization to publish a report without a shred of evidence.”